Games Industry International has gathered together a group of industry analysts to find out whether Nintendo is making the right call by not participating in a press conference at this year’s E3 event in June. Industry analyst Brendan Sinclair says that the company isn’t having a press event this year simply because it knows it can’t compete against the next Xbox from Microsoft and the PlayStation 4 from Sony. Here’s Sinclair’s thoughts.
“Yes, Nintendo bailing on the Big Three press conferences is an admission that the company doesn’t have faith in its ability to go toe-to-toe with Sony and Microsoft’s new system unveilings. But that’s just being realistic at a time when Nintendo can ill-afford to blow money for the sake of keeping up appearances. But I think the more interesting thing this move tells us is not how Nintendo feels about its own efforts, but how it feels about the relevance of the gaming media in general, and E3 in specific.
“By putting its announcements into a series of Nintendo Direct videos, Nintendo has realized that its fans want big, eventful news, but they don’t actually need a big event to deliver it. All they need is a pre-recorded streaming video of announcements and a countdown clock. If Nintendo can provide that, gamers will show up in droves, because it delivers on the things they value (excitement, immediacy, and actual news, in that order) while eliminating things they don’t value (an expensive venue, the uncertainty of a live event, and the media’s function as a filter of information).
“As for E3, it’s clear the show doesn’t work for everyone; it’s just too big, too busy, and too expensive. The industry tried adapting to those realities in 2007 when it had a radically downsized E3 in Santa Monica. The show received a mixed reaction from attendees and publishers alike, and was returned to the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center the following year. But the gaming industry was still growing in 2007, just a year ahead of its all-time peak. If the Santa Monica experiment were held this year, it’s hard to picture the same support for moving the show back to essentially the format that everybody complained about in the first place. It’s doubly unlikely once you consider the products E3 was designed to promote–packaged retail games–are no longer the focus of the industry. Times are tough, and companies are increasingly pragmatic when it comes to expenses of any kind.
“Nintendo’s move is simply an acknowledgement of this, and an attempt to optimize its limited resources, putting them where they will do the most good for business, not image. It’s an approach you can expect plenty of other companies to follow, which should be more concerning for the gaming media and E3 as a whole than it is for Nintendo.”