No NX: Why Nintendo’s Approach To E3 Was All Wrong

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There’s no escaping that Nintendo isn’t the powerhouse they used to be. The Wii U was a big blunder on the company’s track record, and though the console has seen some terrific first party titles, its library is weak in terms of quantity. It seems ironic that when asked about whether the upgraded power of Microsoft’s project Scorpio and Sony’s Neo, Fils-Aime stated:

“Nintendo is a content focused company. We create entertainment that makes people smile… whatever Microsoft and Sony are doing in terms of talking about new systems, that’s for them to fight out in that red ocean… So far the reaction to Zelda has been overwhelming.”

But Nintendo’s first party studios just didn’t have the manpower to churn out enough titles for the Wii U’s library, so what makes us believe that things will be any different for the NX? According industry insider Emily Rogers, her Nintendo sources suggest that might be an issue that Nintendo have potentially solved:

“The NX’s software output will blow away the Wii U’s software output” and within a year, “will build a larger library of games than Wii U produced in three or four years.”

The thing is, for the average gamer, the consumer, the person who is actually buying the product and keeping Nintendo afloat, it’s all conjecture; a muddled mess that needs clarifying. Surely, there is no better time to declare the company’s mission statement than during a major gaming event in which the entire gaming press and the whole gaming community is watching?

Nintendo had the perfect opportunity to launch the NX at E3, to show the world they’re launching a system that will propel the company back to the forefront of the industry, but instead we got an extremely boring Treehouse presentation and more fluff from both Reggie and his team of happy clappy Nintendo cheerleaders.

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According to IGN’s Daemon Hatfield, based on IGN’s own traffic stats, Nintendo struggled to garner substantial media attention during the event, even despite the popularity of Zelda’s E3 booth. Certainly, the game was a huge boon and will undoubtedly receive critical acclaim, but without the debut of the NX, the company’s E3 presence was never going to be significant.

Clearly, Nintendo are waiting for more software to be developed so they can at least vindicate their rumored claims of a more substantial first party offering for the NX, and that’s probably the correct thing to do. After all, they are going to need a decent software showing to get people behind the project. Yet, we didn’t really need a Sony style gameplay demonstration of 5 or 6 exclusive titles to generate interest in the console. Indeed, we could have quite easily been swayed with CGI trailers and short gameplay snippets.

Quite apart from the fact that several launch titles must be fairly far through development if the NX is to debut in 2017, you’d have to imagine the developers are capable of putting together a sizzle reel to get people excited. After all, if Square Enix can do it for Final Fantasy VII Remake, a game that’s likely a 2018 release; or if Kojima can do it for Death Stranding, a game that’s probably a 2019 release; then Nintendo can do the same for Mario, Metroid, Wario and whatever else they have up their sleeves for the NX launch.

Nintendo have made it absolutely clear that they don’t care about the calendared gaming events, opting to no show or only attend remotely via Nintendo directs, but that is arguably the strategy that got them in this mess in the first place. Sure, they know their audience and their demographic, but attempting to get by only with the audience they already have is naive; the NX must attract a new generation of Nintendo enthusiasts. But so far, the company simply hasn’t demonstrated that they have learnt anything from their past mistakes with their poor showing at E3 2016.

The crux of the issue is that Nintendo need to stop kidding themselves that they can exist separately from the rest industry. Yes, they are a profitable company with a substantial fanbase, but that’s largely been bolstered thanks to the success of Amiibo. At this stage, Nintendo is really a toy company, and to rebuild trust in their brand as a video game hardware manufacturer they need to go back to basics and stop dancing around the industry as if they are not part of it.