Hey Nintendo, perception is everything
I love my Wii U. But it annoys me that for the second straight year, Nintendo will not have a traditional E3 press conference; instead, they'll be having another digital event and hands-on displays across the nation at Best Buy retail stores. This E3-focused Nintendo Direct is described by Nintendo as "a new kind of program that will reveal and provide further detail about the gaming experiences on the way for Nintendo platforms in 2014 and beyond." That's fine and all, but I think Nintendo is missing the point...
E3 press conferences are all pomp and circumstance. It's all about showing off, being what everyone is talking about for 90 minutes, and having a big stage all to yourself. All of the other big players have them -- EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony -- and while Digital Events and Nintendo Directs are nice supplements, they're not a good replacement for an E3 press conference. Here's a couple of reasons why.
If you want to sit with the cool kids, you have to at least dress the part. Right now, everyone thinks less of Nintendo because of their failing Wii U console, and it's not helping that they're not treating themselves like a major player in the industry. If you go to a car dealership wearing a dirty shirt, shorts and sandals, people look at you and think lesser of you, maybe showing you a Kia over something higher-end. Wear something like Ralph Lauren, or even a nice, tailored suit, and they'll treat you better, probably showing you nicer cars like BMW and Mercedes (before running your credit, of course). The point is, it's all about how people perceive you. By not having an E3 press conference -- again -- it's coming off as a shorts and sandals move. However comfortable it may be, sometimes it's better to endure some pain to look better. You're f*cking Nintendo... dress the part.
Another issue with the Nintendo Directs are the promises that come with them. They don't give us any more information than an E3 press conference would; they're just less expensive. Everything they share in a Nintendo Direct they can share onstage at E3, and for bigger titles -- like a new Zelda game, Smash Bros. Bayonetta 2 -- information from Nintendo has been few and far between. I've been a huge supporter of Nintendo and the Wii U, and it's still the most-played console in my house, but if I'm being honest, there's been a lack of detail for everything thus far on the console. That doesn't give me great optimism for clarification and transparency on the experience Nintendo fans can expect for the rest of 2014 and beyond. I didn't want a Wii U before I saw it up on stage at E3. It was that press conference that got me excited to buy one. The bells and whistles of a press conference could possibly do that for other gamers at a time when Nintendo desperately needs a shot in the arm.
By the way, I'm also a little annoyed that President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime is used as a prop by Nintendo. It's a little disturbing. He's the President of Nintendo of America, not a prop to create laughs. Laughs aren't going to solve the Wii U's problems.
The only thing I'm really excited for is the Super Smash Bros. Wii U invitational tournament that will take place during E3 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. I like that it's not just media that can see it; fans can go and even watch a stream of it. But I've long maintained that Nintendo's best moments are from when they get their good games in people's hands. By having Super Smash Bros. U at Best Buy locations around the nation, they're doing exactly that, and it's a smart move by them.
I'm still holding out hope that Nintendo can right the U.S.S Wii U and keep it from sinking. They've taken baby steps in doing that over the past few months. That said, while I'm a supporter of the console, there's nothing to be gained from skipping an E3 press conference. Like I said, it's all about perception. Treat yourself better and others will too.