Nintendo’s strategy for E3 is changing this year. Traditionally one of the studios to showcase their wares on the big stage, Nintendo is taking to smaller events that will fit on the show floor, and only for select people. The console maker believes the reach of their recent “Nintendo Direct” videos is making their message clear enough.
The move is an interesting one, showing a lessening purpose to the event, but also Nintendo’s own change in structure and advertising angle. The Wii U is not a powerhouse, so why go up against giants like Microsoft and Sony who will be debuting mesmerizing new software? Why take the hit from a transfixed gaming media who can only focus on the next gen while Nintendo sits back with (technologically) outdated hardware?
What’s odd is that Nintendo NEEDS the exposure. More than ever with the Wii U struggling to gain a foothold, and mainstream eyes are what they need. Major papers are not reporting on who “won” E3 – that’s meant for enthusiast sites – but delivering a message to an outside audience, the same crowd who lapped up the Wii in record numbers. The games will come and the hardcore crowd will be found; Nintendo seems to have lost the more casual audience they relied on just a few years ago. Those people are not watching Nintendo Direct videos, nor do they know of them.
Take a stage and dominate outside of technology, pushing the library of games we know the first party can produce. It doesn’t matter if the gaming press knows of your upcoming releases already; that’s not who you need to be speaking to. Let people know, the casual Wii owners, that the Wii U can do the same… only better. Push a marketing message so CNN’s tech section can define what the Wii U is, and USA Today can slap Mario on the front of the entertainment section. Not only do masses need to know what separates the new hardware from what they already have (and don’t play), they need to know why, in this era of tablets and smartphones, the Wii U deserves their attention.
So far, that message has fallen on deaf ears. That E3 stage seemed like their chance.