Nintendo right to be unhappy?
For those of you who saw or read about Nintendo’s E3 press conference a couple of months back you’ll probably know that it got mixed reactions from the general public and those within the industry. For those who did miss it, here’s a run-down I wrote at the time, which I should forewarn is a little bit of a bashing in places. I’m not a big fan of Nintendo these days, so apologies for the high level of unprofessionalism for want of a better word.
The Nintendo conference was, in my opinion, crap. There were one or two good announcements for the non-casuals including a new Metroid game, Mario Galaxy 2, a Final Fantasy and Resident Evil spin-off and some sort of Dead Space prequel but nothing else of any relevance. The people speaking mainly talked about stats and selling figures as predicted, stuff like “1 million DS’s sold” and “Wii is top of the console sales” were mentioned frequently and the Wii motion plus was briefly discussed. A gentleman took centre stage with really broken English and spent quite some time talking about getting more people involved in gaming and that was their target for the year, more or less saying “we’re sticking to casual crap because it’s making us a lot of money.” There were a few shovelware games demo’d along the way like Wii Sports Resort (which apparently was showcased last year), some archery mini-game to add to that and a basketball hoop shooting game, in fact almost everything else consisted of brief trailers that gave no indication of what the games were actually like.
The crowd was totally dead through most of it as well with the exception of a sarcastic cheer when fashion design game Style Savvy was announced for the DS, the biggest applause came after the Metroid announcement right at the end and the whole thing was much shorter than expected at about an hour and ten minutes long. Considering Microsoft’s conference went on for over 2 hours (as did Sony’s afterwards) and announced three times as many things it really wasn’t good for Nintendo, to summarise it sucked.
I still stand by what I wrote on the whole, Microsoft and Sony absolutely wowed me but Nintendo offered very little. Mario Galaxy 2 and the new Metroid were certainly good pieces of news to fans of those respective series, but otherwise it was all talk about statistics and a promise of… more of the same really. Anywho, the good folks at GoNintendo have reported that Satoru Iwata (president and CEO of Nintendo) is far from pleased at Nintendo’s showing at E3.
“As for the media briefing at E3, of course we had many internal discussions after that. Honestly speaking, none of us at Nintendo thought that our presentation at E3 was as good as it could have been. It is apparent that we could not fully convey the charm of our products. In the past, Wii Sports and Wii Fit were naturally able to convey their appeal on stage since it was something no one had ever seen or imagined before. People seemed to capture the appeal of Wii Sports instantly and although there was some initial confusion with Wii Fit, its appeal did get through to the audience afterwards. This year, however, with the New Super Mario Bros. Wii, four people lined up with Wii Remotes was not a scene that no one had ever seen. Those who actually had the chance to play understood how the game would change with four people playing simultaneously, but we could not address that fun sentiment at the media briefing. Now we strongly feel that we need to look into finding a better way to demonstrate the products’ appeal better at E3 in these times where more people are watching it online via web cast not only in the U.S. but all around the world, than the number of audience who actually watch it in the theatre. In that sense, we learned many lessons from this year’s E3 show. After the media briefing, we had a domestic trade briefing in Japan. There we disclosed the black Wii console and red Nintendo DSi, which made a big buzz among game fans. It is also an important lesson for next year.”
He can blame the way each new showcased product was presented at E3 all he wants, Sony and Microsoft had no difficulties showing exactly how good some of their upcoming products were. One of the biggest differences for me was actually seeing games like Modern Warfare 2 and Alan Wake being played by one person on stage while another gave running commentary, whereas most (if not all) of the Wii titles were nothing more than pre-made demos or trailers. Not to mention their Wii Motion Plus technology could well be blown out of the water by what its competitors offered, plus far too much talk on games nobody gave a damn about combined with meaningless figures regarding housewives, old people and pre-teenage children buying the Wii/DS in their millions made for an altogether horrendous conference. To me it had nothing to do with the way everything was being presented, it’s the fact that what was being presented simply wasn’t all that interesting. While quality looking games like God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, Forza 3 and of course the aforementioned Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 were getting video game fans across the world excited for the future Nintendo chose to show the best they had to offer with games like Wii Sports Resort, a couple of spin-off titles and a fashion designer title. Fair enough, the two first party Mario and Metroid titles look pretty good, but the conference was already dead in the water by the time they were mentioned. And we were only treated to trailers and glimpses of gameplay footage as well. That is where Nintendo got it wrong, they showcased upcoming titles and hardware that simply wasn’t interesting enough.
Rightly so, Iwata is looking to learn from the mistakes made at this years E3. Despite what he’s said above he surely knows deep down that he needs to showcase working titles and video games proper gamers are interested in rather than casual nonsense and dull trailers with little actual gameplay footage, but there’s only so many chances he’s going to get to prove that the Wii in particular is a gaming console and not simply a toy. Despite a horrific conference it was infinitely better than what they came up with last year when Wii Music was literally laughed at for being so crap, so really the only way for Nintendo to go now is forwards. For their sake let’s hope so.