Why Skipping E3 Was Nintendo’s Smartest Move In Years

40878389033Okay so this analogy might be a long shot, but I’ll give it a try: If you are a big Quentin Tarantino fan like me, you have watched the deleted/alternate scenes bonus feature on your Pulp Fiction collector’s edition DVD/Blu-ray. In my favorite scene, which never made it to the theatrical release, Uma Thurman’s character, Mia Wallace, asks John Travolta’s character Vincent Vega if he is an, “Elvis man or a Beatles man.” I remember thinking how interesting that question is because of course one can like both (and I’m sure most people do), but everyone I know inherently likes one over the other.

The gaming world is a lot like this; you might own an Alienware computer, an Xbox 360, a PS3, and a Wii, but you almost definitely like one company over the others. Not only do you like Sony over Microsoft or Nintendo over Sony or any combination of the Big Three, but also you are willing to argue the finer points of contention comparing these companies among your peers on the world’s greatest troll machine, the Internet. Just spend 5 minutes on any of the major video game industry blogs like IGN or Kotaku, read the comments regardless of the topic, and you’ll find out just how much someone can hate a company. Hint: its not because a representative of Microsoft or Sony or whoever fired them, or took away their pension, or something else terrible, it’s because their newest console looks a little different, or requires you to have an Internet connection, or doesn’t have a game they expected.

To be clear, I understand why people argue about this stuff. For some, video games are a fun way to kill time, for others it’s a much more important activity that promotes teamwork, encourages self confidence, improves motor skills and critical thinking, provides an escape from the parts of life we don’t want to deal with, or can even represent your community of friends, to name a few. Your favorite console is like your favorite sports team, you follow them in good seasons and bad; more importantly, you trash talk any opposing team. Just so you know, my team is Nintendo and it has always been, but I’ll have more on that in a bit.

xlargeThere is no time where this sentiment holds truer than now, while we are in the thick of E3. For those of you who don’t know, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 as I’m sure you guessed) is the world’s largest, most important video game industry event. It’s where the most exciting developments in video gaming are revealed, and if you could “win” at being a video game developer, manufacturer, or visionary, this is where it would be. Here’s another thing you should know about E3: it’s been over 6 years since the gamer masses have had a new console to play with. This year, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have all announced and revealed the “next generation” of consoles. Needless to say, there is a lot at stake here, and your presentation at E3 can make or break the future of your console business. Here’s the final thing you should know about E3 this year: Nintendo has opted out of the traditional, flashy, and over the top press conference, which have become the trade mark of E3, for a more unconventional, direct approach at reaching its fans.

Nintendo’s decision to forego a big press conference for their new console, the Wii U, is significant for a few reasons. Most importantly, the Wii U isn’t doing so well on many fronts: overall sales, popularity, and 3rd party support for the system are not promising. One can only speculate why overall reception to the Wii U has been poor, but my guess would be Nintendo’s lack of advertising for the console as well as a general misunderstanding of what the Wii U is and how its different from the Nintendo Wii (I think the name is the first problem, why not Wii 2, Nintendo?) Instead of a having a press conference at E3 this week, Nintendo has been streaming a series of pre recorded broadcasts on their website aptly called “Nintendo Direct.”

These Nintendo Directs are the reason why I’ve been able to stand by team Nintendo. Like FDR’s fireside chats, the Nintendo Direct connects us to the company in a profound and informative way. Nintendo big wigs, like the company’s global president Satoru Iwata will often make grand, hilarious proclamations like, “This is year of Luigi,” while wearing giant white gloves. Typically we’d have to learn about new releases, software updates, or company news from tech and video game reporting. Here’s the thing, E3 is exciting, but we primarily experience it vicariously through the eyes and ears of tech and game industry insiders. Traditionally, your every day Nintendo fan boy, like me, can’t buy tickets, and he can’t get in, and he certainly can’t demo new games, but Nintendo is changing the rules.

Wind Waker looks pretty great.Nintendo is bringing E3 to your home, your office (if you don’t get caught) and your city. Not only are you getting Nintendo news first, straight from the source through the several-scheduled Nintendo Directs this week, BUT many of the games that Nintendo have announced already and will announce are playable at hundreds of Best Buy locations in the US. Right now…. I mean, after work, I could go play the HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker at the Best Buy closest to me, or the new Super Smash Bros! This is something that Sony and Microsoft are definitely not offering, unless of course you can go back in time, start a video game themed blog, become popular, and then register for E3 attendance.

So here is my call to all you video gamers out there as you take in the E3 festivities on your favorite blogs and news sources: Take some time to go try out new games that won’t be available for some time. You can find a list of Best Buy locations here. Be an insider and remember, It’s dangerous to go alone! ^Jitin

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