In case you don't remember, Nintendo skipped the E3 stage show last year. While Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and EA rolled out speakers, trailers, developers, fancy cars and celebrities to show their games in practically award ceremony form, Nintendo stayed away.
Leading up to E3, that upset a lot of people. Afterwards, I'd argue it really didn't matter.
Nintendo announced this morning that they're skipping the traditional E3 stage presentation once again for 2014. Instead, they're going with a four pronged mode of attack.
There will be a Nintendo Direct-esque presentation on June 10th. That's called the Nintendo Digital Event. It will be livestreamed, and it will boast all of the announcements and trailers we've come to expect.
Then, throughout E3, Nintendo will livestream content from the Treehouse, the Nintendo of America home of development.
Finally, there are the two ways Nintendo is handling Smash. They're holding an invitational tournament for the new game in the Nokia Theater in LA that will be streamed. They're also putting Super Smash Bros. for Wii U kiosks in Best Buys around the world. Expect lines.
The snag? People are still suggesting that Nintendo dropping the stage presentation at E3 is a bad move. I think that's just crazy.
Just… Watch The Video. It's Good.
I love an executive who doesn't take their job too seriously. Reggie Fils-Aime is obviously fine with being in on jokes, and people like Shuhei Yoshida from Sony are completely in-tune with what the gaming community at-large wants from the companies making games.
This is a really fun industry to be a part of. When company heads step off their pedestals to pretend to be Antonio Banderas or a mechanized version of themselves for the good of a joke, they should be applauded.
And, by and large, that's what's happening with the video you see above. There are a few folks who think it's lame (and it is sort of lame), but most recognize Nintendo is trying to have fun. They're doing so in the face of one of their worst financial situations in a very, very long time.
The video, of course, explains the company's E3 plans, which I outlined above. It's goofy, it's silly, it's the tip of the iceberg and it's really good.
Spare Me The Dramatics
I don't want to sound too bitter and calloused here, but I really dislike the stage presentations at E3. It's not the games or the execs that bother me. I like seeing that stuff, and the stage presentations are a sampling of the kind of interactions we have with folks on the show floor once the convention opens.
It's the stuff that has little or nothing to do with gaming that really drives me bonkers. Watching a few guys gush on and on about a fancy car on the stage of the Microsoft presser during E3 last year instead of showing us more Forza Motorsport 5, for instance, is the kind of stuff I'd rather not see.
Ubisoft sometimes takes it a step further. Remember the Flo Rida performance from 2012? I do. I was there.
Who are we kidding with this? Did that Flo Rida performance sell you on Just Dance that year? Was it the thing that rocketed Ubisoft to the top of the "Who Won E3 2012?" lists following the show? No. It was a spectacle.
I don't need spectacles during game presentations. Just bring on the titles. Show me gameplay, announce new IPs, trot out a dev or two to talk about what's big and changing, then wrap it up. I don't need a performance from a famous rapper or a comedian doing the emcee work.
I know it's one of Nintendo's taglines over the last few years, but I think it's especially true during E3: Play the game.
They Still Have A Presence
There seems to be this prevailing argument that without a stage presentation, Nintendo is pretty much not at E3 at all. First off, that's bunk.
We're skipping the hour plus stage show on Tuesday morning. Literally. We. We, as in the press normally walking, bus riding or cabbing over to the Nokia Theater. We won't be seeing a presentation live and in person.
Instead? We'll be watching from our hotel rooms, just like everyone else around the world, as Nintendo streams a presentation that would be nearly identical to what they're showing on stage. The thing that's missing? The stage.
Maybe I'm weird, I don't know. I'd much rather sit in my hotel room, sip coffee and enjoy the presentation from a comfy spot not too far from the bed I crashed out on the night before than slop over to an auditorium, struggle for internet access, wait for 30 minutes and then sit through largely the same presentation. The fact that some members of the press are actually complaining about skipping the whole thing is beyond me.
If Nintendo can meet the demand of the internet and produce a lag-free stream, the digital showing is far and away the better way to go for this thing. That's the snag, though, they need to fear the stream.
Ustream was a mess last year. The biggest problem with the way Nintendo handled E3 2013 was the lag in the stream. It was unwatchable for plenty of viewers, and that's unacceptable. Nintendo will need to address that, big time. They've since added YouTube streaming, but it needs to be rock solid.
The other stuff? Media will still have early access to the games, thus filling the hands-on preview void that would be missing otherwise. Nintendo will still have a huge booth, just like every year. I can also almost guarantee that they'll offer the same standard behind-closed-doors fare that they've had every year since I've been going to the show.
That business isn't changing. Furthermore, the way they're handling the Super Smash Bros. coverage could be an absolute slam dunk.
Bring On The Demos… For Everyone
Nintendo's take on getting folks to try their games during the E3 period remains extremely interesting.
Like I explained all the way up top, Nintendo will have an eSports-esque tournament for Smash on the Wii U broadcast live from the Nokia Theater. This is a company that's been known to almost work against the tournament scene, and here they are offering up their first invitational tournament and doing so during the grand stage that is E3.
Then they take that further. Super Smash Bros. will hit the 3DS this summer. It won't hit the Wii U until around December of this year. They're making the Wii U version of the game playable in Best Buys globally during the week of E3.
More than likely, you'll have a chance to play the same exact demo we're playing on the show floor, and that's undeniably cool. You could watch a press conference, sure. That could happen. Or you could watch a livestreamed enhanced Nintendo Direct, then head to your local Best Buy and play the game for yourself.
Which sounds better?
Personally, I don't see the appeal to the stage presentations anymore. Now that the Internet has made streaming these things so simple and easy, the need to shell out an extreme amount of money for the theater, the lights, the sound team, entertainers, dancers, emcees, ushers, catering, etc. has become almost nonexistent.
Why do those things when you can put on a better, pre-recorded showing, offer demos on a global scale and meet the demands of the core community through a first ever tournament?
I'd rather have those things then just another stage presentation. How about you?
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