Published on June 8th, 2012 | by Adam Vjestica1
Nintendo’s 2012 E3 Press Conference Thoughts
On Tuesday, June 4th, 2012, Nintendo did its upmost to shake the foundations of the house of Mario until it almost crumbled into a pile of rubble. Diehard fans were left seething, journalists confused, and the rest of the viewing public, unconvinced.
On what was supposed to be one of Nintendo finest hours in their illustrious history, Tuesday’s E3 conference turned out to be one their worst. Glaring mistakes littered the tedious presentation, combined with disappointing omissions and perplexing decisions.
Somehow, even though Nintendo had the world eating out of the palm of their hand – buoyed by the self-generated excitement that only a new console announcement can provide – they completely failed to captalise on their own momentum in spectacular fashion.
Start As You Mean To Go On
Everything began so well, though by the end of the conference, the beginning seemed like a long, distant memory.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda series, took to the stage to a typically warm applause, consisting of deserving respect but importantly, expectation.
Thankfully, Miyamoto-san didn’t disappoint, announcing that another one of his ingenious creations, Pikmin, was finally making a return to Nintendo’s new home console in the form of Pikmin 3.
The game oozed Nintendo’s trademark beauty and charm, with the unique gameplay of the Pikmin series looking just as enjoyable as it did eight years ago. Nonetheless, cracks were already starting to show.
Although the game looked fantastic (it was definitely a moving moment to see a Nintendo game finally running in High Definition), the utilization of the Wii U’s innovative GamePad was barely worth talking about. In fact, Miyamoto-san spent the majority of the achingly short video discussing how to play the game using the Wii’s Wiimote and nunchuk instead of the Wii U’s fancy new GamePad.
Nevertheless, the announcement of Pikmin 3 was a notable highlight. And one that should have ushered in a wave of must-have software and succinct explanations of the questions that were on everyone’s minds. How much will the Wii U cost? What are the technical specifications of the console? When will it be released? Which first-party games are in development? Sadly, simple questions such as these were left unanswered.
From then on, the conference plummeted to dreary depths in a dialog heavy slog of disappointing reveals and tame announcements. Nintendo of America’s president, Reggie Fils-Aime, took to the stage in a predictably bullish and confident way. What followed was a well-rehearsed, yet lifeless performance as he proceeded to spout corporate lines of rich promises and bold statements; however, Reggie’s monotonous and almost arrogant speeches didn’t inspire. If anything, they only served to delay what everyone had come to see: the Wii U and the games. And thankfully, we did get to see some games.
3rd party support was reasonable, with Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II and Assassin’s Creed 3 all heading to the Wii U shortly after launch. The problem, however, is most of the games on show had either been in circulation for quite some time, or will be released before the Wii U even hits the shelves. Ultimately, the question arises as to whether gamers will be compelled to buy another copy of a game that they’ve already owned, or one that has been out for nearly a year. Time will tell, but the Wii U GamePad integration in Batman Arkham Asylum: Armored Edition was at least promising (no integration was shown for the majority of games); but for some, that still won’t be enough.
Ubisoft seemed to be the most forthcoming in their championing of Nintendo’s new home console, with exclusives such as Rayman Legends and ZombiU taking full advantage of Nintendo’s next innovation. (Sadly, once again, with the exception of ZombiU, the conference failed to truly highlight the potential of many of the 3rd party titles with notable omissions such as Platinum Games’ excellent Project P-100 not even shown.)
By this point we still hadn’t seen any killer, must-have games, nor had we seen any ingenious use of the Wii U’s GamePad. Nintendo’s E3 conference was supposed to convince people to buy a Wii U, but it was falling well far of its goal. It was time to call for a plumber.
Predictably, due to the demos we saw last year, New Super Mario Bros. U was announced as a launch title for the Wii U. Having a Mario game to push the console at launch is a big plus for Nintendo, but much of the fanfare was dulled because we simply knew it was already coming and perhaps strangely, we already kind of know that it will be excellent.
Granny’s Taken Care Of
What proceeded for the rest of the conference was a stark reminder of the other side of the gaming world: the lucrative casual market. Nintendo showed extensive footage of Wii Fit U, Just Dance 4, SiNG (working title), and the mini-game compilation Nintendo Land, bloating the majority of their conference with over-enthusiastic, plastic families and party time experiences. It’s exactly what the hardcore Nintendo crowd were dreading and we saw far too much of it.
We can guarantee that the audience of the so-called casual markets weren’t huddled around their laptops, watching live-streams of E3 with a gaming t-shirt on – running on a lack of sleep because they’ve over indulged themselves on gaming news. In fact, we’d be surprised if they even knew what E3 signifies.
Thus, it was frustrating and alarming that Nintendo chose to dedicate the second half of their conference to these very individuals. Oh, and the fact that Nintendo continually plugged their social media channels instead of actually using the limited stage time to present was also laughable. We’d have hated to be the poor soul tasked with relaying some of the Twitter reactions back to Nintendo; believe us, it wasn’t pretty.
And then, almost graciously, the end of the conference approached; surely, the perfect opportunity had arisen to right many of the wrongs of the last hour and to provide a tasty teaser for the Nintendo faithful. But no, they even messed that up. A couple of failed confetti fireworks and another look at Nintendo Land was all we were given. It felt like a final slap round the face – almost scolding us for our prior excitement – leaving us deflated and dejected.
What Just Happened?
When the lights came back on, one of the weakest smatterings of applause we’ve ever heard after an E3 conference said more than words ever could. The attending audience left in their droves, seemingly as absentminded as we were.
Sadly, we were left wanting. Explanations of what the Wii U could do were overly complicated – no more so than when Eguchi-san attempted to explain an extremely simple concept in Nintendo Land for around 10 minutes – with poorly conceived vid reels doing little to correct the problem.
Key information was scarce, must-have titles were missing, and the resurfacing of old demons such as an over reliance on the casual market appeared.
The Wii U is clearly an excellent proposition, but it’s difficult to convey this message through words alone. And that’s the problem that Nintendo ultimately face: how to convey the brilliance of their new controller – and it is undoubtedly brilliant – to a broad audience who struggle to understand the creativity and opportunities it will provide.
The Wii had Wii Sports – a perfect introduction of the Wii’s capabilities. You picked it up, played it, and straightaway, you got it. The Wii U has Nintendo Land, which in our opinion, has to be bundled with the console without fail, otherwise, we fear Nintendo’s message may go unheard for some.
Wii Can’t Quit U
After the anger subsided and the feelings of disenchantment eventually faded; positive hands-on previews emerged, more information came to light and further explanatory videos began to surface.
The potential is there and developers will have be given more time to implement their ideas before the Wii U arrives. The launch line-up, even though peppered with older titles, is incredibly strong. The Wii U’s retail price will obviously be the tipping point for many, and, if Nintendo make the same mistake as they did with the Nintendo 3DS’s price, it could be disastrous.
Nintendo clearly has the ability to capture the market like they did with the Wii, and naturally, many gamers will purchase the console simply because they possess the best 1st party franchises in existence. And, even though Nintendo’s conference was by all means, terrible, at least there was innovation and ingenuity on show, rather than mere graphical grunt and extensive entertainment packages (though Nintendo will be revealing these shortly). As they say, gameplay will always be king.
Still, to say that they could of done a better job is an understatement. Lessons must be learnt, and hopefully, Nintendo’s 2012 E3 Press Conference will seem like an insignificant blip come this time next year. Unfortunately, the damage may be irreparable for some.