Nintendo skipping E3 media briefing again

Nokia Theatre to be used for Wii U Smash Bros. tournament as new game news saved for "Digital Event"

Nintendo has laid out its E3 2014 plans, and it appears the Wii U maker will stay the course it first charted in 2013. For the second year in a row, Nintendo will skip the traditional live media briefing in favor of an online unveiling for its new games and announcements.

The lack of a media briefing isn't the only part of Nintendo's E3 2013 strategy to return this year. The company is also reprising a joint marketing effort with Best Buy that will see the upcoming Wii U Super Smash Bros. game playable at a variety of the big box retailer's locations across the US during the show.

That isn't to say the company won't have a significant presence around the Los Angeles Convention Center. Nintendo may not be using the neighboring Nokia Theatre for a media briefing, but the company has still booked the venue to host a Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament with 16 players competing in front of thousands of Nintendo fans in LA, and many more online.

The replacement for the traditional media briefing, dubbed the Nintendo Digital Event, has been set for June 10 at 9 a.m. Pacific.

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Latest comments (21)

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
As much as it sucks, if Nintendo's products are that good, they should speak for themselves and garner interest. Both Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 look amazing. Mario Golf above average reviws, and nintendo consistently puts out good games. Im just hoping some news pops up regarding "X", Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tensei, The new Fatel Frame, Zelda WiiU and probably Dragon Quest XI.

Its taken a while, but Nintendo has a lineup of games worthy of a WiiU purchase.

The idea of a Super Smash bros. tournament is very cool. I know that not having a traditional press conference sucks, but if it hasnt been working for them, maybe a new approach is needed to show off their products. i do enjoy their Nintendo Directs quite alot. It would be nice if they can do this but on a larger scale. Though they just appeal to Nintendo fans. I do feel they need to do more to appeal for the mass market.

But anyway, after seeing Smash Bros and Mario Kart, I still have some hope they can turn this around. The games look very good graphically and fun. And the underpowered WiiU hardware isnt really a big deal to me considering games like bayontta look like they were running on a PS4 or XB1. The Smash Bros and Mario Kart games almost look like a pixar animated short. I can careless if the the WiiU isnt as powerful as PS4 or XB1 so long as it delivers a fullfilling gaming expirience.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 30th April 2014 3:30pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
It is the only logical consequence. Why try catering to a room full of people in hopes that their second hand reports are going to impress people, when you can broadcast to you audience without such an intermediate? Considering the connected nature of even Nintendo devices such an event should be on the welcome screen of your console as an on demand video for at least a month.
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Jim Burns Research Asisstant 5 years ago
Nintendo made the right move with this. However this time it looks like the digital stuff is going to be even bigger.
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Show all comments (21)
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
Yeah, I'm with the others. Not only do I think this is the right move by Nintendo but I'm pretty confident they're just ahead of the curve. Live announcement events will not be a thing for much longer.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
Considering the connected nature of even Nintendo devices such an event should be on the welcome screen of your console as an on demand video for at least a month.
Microsoft's been doing just that for the last few years by live streaming their E3 show on the 360. I don't mind watching Nintendo Direct from my laptop but it would be nice to have the option of streaming it on my 3DS in case I was out and about.

Anyway, I also see this as the best option for Nintendo when it comes to their E3 announcments. Their last few E3 shows weren't very exciting but this year they should have built up a nice selection of games to show off. And of course, not having to shell out lots of money for a big E3 show is a bonus for them too.
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Jim Burns Research Asisstant 5 years ago
The smash bros tournament quite possibly could bring in the biggest amount of site traffic, than anything this E3.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
I'd say the first reason they stopped, besides WiiU losses and the double 800lb gorillas of X1 and PS4, is that they were awful at it. From Reggie and his scary eyes, to Iwata's overlong speeches in awkward English, to that woman whose name scrapes me who sucked the air out if the room, their presentations were pretty universally TERRIBLE.

Some actors avoid the stage for a reason, and Nintendo is probably best off continuing to do so.

Mario and Smash sell systems to holdouts, the kind of people who watch Nintendo Direct, they know they're not gaining new customers. Half a million bucks (easy) is not a good investment in preaching to the converted, when you can spend 50 grand on some videos and accomplish 95% of the same thing. So this isn't a shrewd move so much as a survival technique in my opinion. Don't throw good money after bad.

Media briefings are also just as much about showcasing your partners, and to be blunt, Nintendo doesn't have any left. There's a lot of wheeling and dealing and politicking, up to the last minute about what goes into these shows. Exclusives own and lost for example. If one of my better sources is to be believed, at least one system selling exclusive last genre ration was locked down at the show

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeff Kleist on 30th April 2014 4:02am

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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University5 years ago
Interesting that they've dropped the Nintendo Direct branding and terminology for E3 this year. There have also been far fewer announcements and Directs from Nintendo in the run up to E3, so I think they should benefit from wider coverage this year; assuming this "Digital Event" really does differ from the usual Direct format and that they have good announcements on route. They haven't revealed a new, major title since last E3, and a lot of Wii U exclusives they have announced don't have firm release dates.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Daniel, I'd bet you a whole nickel that they're saving up a ton of news for their direct (to fan) event. Or, they'd BETTER have a lot of news, as Nintendo's press conferences in the past tended to be big announcements in spots, a LOT of drag and lag as they talked about stuff that was dull and then a big reveal at the end that might have seemed "big" to them, but wasn't to anyone who wasn't an ardent supporter.

They need to roll out a string of must-buys and keep them coming. The cute filler fluff mini-games are fun and all, but hard to take seriously if you bought a Wii U for more than indies and eShop titles.

Eh, we'll see...
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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
What this says to me is that Nintendo doesn't have a lot of big news to reveal. Some games we already know about, probably a few we haven't heard about yet. No big changes (like price cuts) and no new hardware announcements. A Smash Bros tournament and a Nintendo Direct are both only going to reach Nintendo fans, not potential new Nintendo fans. I'd like to think Nintendo is just keeping a low (and less expensive) profile until they have something really big to talk about... I just hope they will have something of that nature in the not terribly distant future.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Steve, I felt the same way last year at first. That these E3 Directs do not reach anyone but current fans. Then I considered who do the normal E3 media briefings reach? Current fans.

Who does reach the potential fans? You do. I do. The media does. Whether we report live from a media briefing or from a streamed video, reporting is reporting and they digest that news regardless of the venue we attend (or view).

For potential fans, what is the difference between a live streamed media briefing and a streamed pre-recorded video?
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Caleb Hale Journalist 5 years ago
Anyone else get that sinking feeling there's not much life planned for Wii U after Smash Bros.?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago

I'll be shocked if Microsoft doesn't announce a price cut, or bundling plans that amount to one. Price is the #1 barrier they have right now. So they'll eat the $50 on Kinect and throw in Ryse or something.

I will be surprised if you can't walk into best buy this Christmas and sign up for cable, or renew a contract and walk out with a $200 Xbox One
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Nick Wofford Hobbyist 5 years ago
Off-topic, but those price-cuts were not allowed to be advertised by the retailers. So their impact isn't quite what it would be if it was an actual price-cut opposed to an unknown deal.

On Topic:
I do think Nintendo is doing the right thing, but that's because they can't stack up to their peers right now. They need quiet.

But I would disagree that E3 only reaches the gamers. E3 is the only time of the year that non-gaming magazines, sites, and shows talk about these consoles and their impressions. And those impressions have weight, even though they are mostly unprofessional. Let me explain that point: people who don't cover gaming, but just cover whatever's trending on Twitter, will not view Nintendo favorably for ditching the press conference. They'll put Nintendo on a lower tier than Sony and MS, and that'll sting a bit amongst the non-hardcore crowd.

Nintendo's in the right here, but they do have some concerns that need to be addressed with this format, and they don't have the advantage of history to look to. It's uncharted territory for them.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
@Christian Nick is essentially correct. There's a big difference between sales targeted at enthusiasts, and the sales targeted at Mom who's getting a new console for little Johnny.

Especially backed with aggressive cable company marketing. Most people don't switch their provider, or can't, and they're already giving out $300 gift cards with 2 year contract
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Steve Peterson Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
Jim, the game media will cover what Nintendo does whether it's a live press conference or a video. E3, however, attracts the attention of mass media outlets, and I think they will give less weight to Nintendo if they don't have a live performance. Sony's presentation last year was clearly aided by the crowd's reaction to the announcements; the energy in the room helped color the stories that were reported. Nintendo loses that factor with a pre-recorded presentation, plus it makes less of an impression on non-game media.

Still, I think it's a reasonable decision by Nintendo if they don't have anything to announce that will get mass-media attention. New hardware would fall into that category, but I also think a big price cut might qualify -- but I don't expect either of those things. Nor do I expect a really impressive software announcement, like a Skylanders-style Pokemon line for the Wii U, or a major creative reboot of The Legend of Zelda for the Wii U. Or, at least, none of those things will be happening in 2014.

I don't think Nintendo feels it can make an effective impact on the audience it is targeting with a live E3 press conference, and thus will be directing its marketing efforts elsewhere. Where, and how much of an effort, and how it's targeted, I'd love to find out... and I'll be asking them.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Steve No, I don't agree. You massively overestimate the amount of mass media coverage granted to gaming for E3. E3 gets maybe 5 or 6 articles in the New York times, for example, and one of those will STILL be about Nintendo. Meanwhile, less traditional "mainstream press" like Huffington Post already have started covering the regular Nintendo Directs, and will continue to cover the ones at E3.

Meanwhile, in the background of all this, we have the negatives of conferences. Press conferences are multi-million dollar affairs. They are regularly the source of PR flubs which fuel internet ridicule (even for Sony, who managed a win last year but makes plenty of high-profile mistakes). They have common technical difficulties which are heavily covered and used as evidence against the companies. They provide a considerably worse experience for 99.999% of your audience, who are watching at home, than a pre-created live-stream event.

And on top of all this, of the 20,000 Moms who happen to click on one of the mass-media's E3 gaming stories, at best 10% will have buying decisions influenced by this (the vast majority will choose based on what their children want, and what they see in commercial marketing).

Press conferences are a dinosaur of pre-streaming technology. They're from a time when people like you and I had to be able to soak up a lot of information to "report back to our readers." Now, the readers obtain the vast majority of this information directly from the companies. Nintendo DIrects are not Nintendo's "surrender" to the pressures of E3, they're Nintendo's solution to an increasingly expensive and ineffective marketing tool of a dead era of journalism.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago

The press conferences are not only anyway to engage the faithful. The bits and bites from them get onto the mainstream media sites. The Wii succeeds because it played well on the Today show, and lured a pile of soccer Moms into it who never would have even thought about it. Likewise, the first huge swaths of the casual gaming public hears about games is in the E3 blitz. The press conferences give them flashy footage that producers like to put on these shoes.

From physical media to declaring press conferences dated, a lot of tech geeks really underestimate exactly how plugged in the average person is. For example, a startingly low number of people fast forward commercials on their DVR
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University5 years ago
@ Steve

I think it's worth pointing out, as I did with my first comment, that Nintendo have dropped the "Direct" logo and terminology for this "Digital Event". They're obviously planning something different, some kind of evolution from that approach. The major drawback of Directs (for me at least) has been that they still rely on an executive (whose delivery may not be great) talking from one point to the next. As we've seen in the latest, game focused Directs (Smash, particularly with Tomodachi Life, Mario Kart) Nintendo are dropping that approach in favour of a more distinctive, playful and entertaining approach.

The fact that they've reduced the number of Directs this year (three or four, as opposed to six or seven pre-E3 last year) is also important, as is the fact they've moved away from covering a number of titles per Direct, to talking about specific titles in each Direct. They're obviously modifying their approach. Ignoring this to concentrate on them "skipping" the traditional E3 approach heavily misses the point. I'd also argue that using a webcast is not indicative of Nintendo not having significant news; they've used Directs to lift the lid on new entries in major franchises like Zelda and Pokemon, as well as to unveil surprise titles like X and Bayonetta 2. It's a tempting argument for a narrative that chimes with Nintendo's current commercial struggles (that they're retreating from open confrontation with rivals) but Nintendo have very often, and often succeeded by, going ahead to do their own thing.

Nintendo are aware of the limits and uses of their Directs. Announce too much in one of them, fans expect too much from the next. They've responded to that by reigning in the focus of their Directs. Have too many Directs, and an E3 Direct becomes just another webcast. Reduce the number, reign in the focus, and announce a new kind of event under different branding for E3, so that Nintendo are more in line with E3 as a singular, yearly event. I'd expect the format in which they deliver their content to be much better this year, and for it to strike a chord with a wider audience. Think back to 2012 and their Miiverse announcement video, which was very well produced and very well received. Nintendo also have other positives this year that they didn't have last year: 1) No new hardware from rivals and 2) Nintendo themselves haven't already announced what will be revealed at E3.

3DS has no major releases post-June other than Smash Brothers (summer) and Monster Hunter 4 (2015). Wii U has a bunch of exciting stuff; Smash (winter), X (2014?), Bayonetta 2 (2014), Hyrule Warriors (2014), Yarn Yoshi (?), new Fatal Frame (?), Fire Emblem vs Shin Megami Tensei (?), some kind of NFC software. I'd expect several of those to feature, and to be dated, as well as a couple of new first party 3DS releases and maybe a high profile localisation (Dragon Quest?). Nintendo also said in their press release that they'll have news for releases beyond 2014. I'm honestly expecting a new Zelda title to make an appearance; maybe just a trailer and a "coming soon", but the last time they did that (2004), fans, and the wider internet, went crazy.

My point is, that Nintendo have advantages this year they didn't have last year. Before E3 last year Nintendo had announced the entirety of their 3DS line up, had revealed Wind Waker HD, Bayonetta 2, X for Wii U and confirmed that Smash, Kart and 3D Mario would be the focus of their E3 announcements. Nintendo's capacity to surprise, and to be heard (thanks to Xbox One/PS4 being out), is greater this year. Importantly, they're in the process of refining their digital news approach. It's not as if they've stuck their head in the sand and followed exactly the same approach as last year, changes are afoot. I think it's a shame that's being dismissed and this treated by some as "another Nintendo Direct".

Whatever happens, even if Nintendo are wildly successful at E3, I'm not saying that will guarantee positive results for Wii U's commercial fortunes. I do think, though, Nintendo will have a better handle of how to deliver their news this year, an approach that will receive plenty of attention. Whether or not they have some great surprises in store is up in the air, but like I've argued, the capacity for surprise is certainly higher than last year.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
But I would disagree that E3 only reaches the gamers. E3 is the only time of the year that non-gaming magazines, sites, and shows talk about these consoles and their impressions. And those impressions have weight, even though they are mostly unprofessional.
Nick, it sounds like you might be confusing the Media Briefings with the actual show floor at E3 (which they will still attend and showcase games). Impressions come from the show floor where they go hands on with the games. That's still happening.

And even if Vanity Fair and Vogue usually have someone attend the Media Briefings, what stops them from watching the streamed version? You still get the whole PR machine reminding you of the event. And better still, every media outlet can view it, not just those that Nintendo or Golin Harris (their media relations firm) gave permission to attend.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago

Because they don't have the visual and visceral impact of the live dog and pony shoe. Something that happened today is news. A tape released is not for mainstream media.
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