With Sony’s big E3 press conference finally dated, and the Xbox 720 set to be announced soon, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan take a look at the odd man out, Nintendo. Why isn’t PlayStation’s oldest enemy planning to have a big E3 event? Is there something wrong with the Wii U? Is all lost? Find out all this, and more, in today’s riveting DR.
Seb: With Sony and Microsoft battling it out at every juncture, it’s only natural that most of our focus is spent on watching the two titans clash. But it’s also worth looking at Nintendo, the oldest of the surviving hardware manufacturers and the biggest console seller of the PSWii60 gen.
Last time we talked about the Wii U (Nintendo’s next gen-ish non-portable-tablet thingy), was two months before it came out. When discussing whether it would be a big hit, I said “This is not a mass market product. The Just Dance crowd already have their Wiis, and if they upgrade they’ll get a Kinect. The average CoD/Batman/Mass Effect gamer won’t be interested in ports or an incremental graphics improvement, and the younger kids will ask their parents for a iPad Mini this Christmas.”
Fast forward to now and the Wii U has been out for almost half a year. It has not been a mass market product. So far, the Wii U has been an epic disappointment for gamers, Nintendo and their investors. It has seen barely any titles and, as usual, 3rd party support has almost completely dried up already (it won’t even get Madden), meaning that it has joined the Wii in collecting dust in the corner.
The console gaming market is split into several segments – completely casual gamers, mainstream AAA core gamers, complete core gamers and Nintendo gamers. Completely casual gamers don’t know that the Wii U exists, or if they’ve heard of it they think it’s a peripheral due to its terrible name (that has now led to Nintendo sending pleading messages to Wii owners saying “it’s not just an upgrade”). Mainstream AAA core gamers can’t get most games on Wii U, so they’ll skip it. Same goes for complete core gamers. All that leaves is normal Nintendo gamers, but most of them were abused during the Wii generation, and they don’t even have that many games to look forward to this time around.
But wait! There’s E3, right? Nintendo can come on and play some Wii U Music until everyone loves them again! Sadly, they’re skipping the main E3 conference entirely, instead going with a few behind-the-scenes events with the press.
This is a terrible sign, with the company basically already conceding defeat and allowing the eyes of the world turn to Sony and Microsoft. With the PS4 and 720 taking center stage, the Wii U would never have been able to win when it comes to attention or hype, but they still would have received some coverage, and their show would still have been viewed by millions.
Instead, even less people are going to hear, or be excited about, the Wii U. It is going to continue to fail, with its best chance at remote success being some strong Nintendo IPs – but, at most, that’ll get them to Gamecube-level sales.
Dan: Yeah, the fact that Nintendo are not having a major E3 presser really does speak a bit about their current state. With Microsoft set to try and push the PS4 out of the public’s mindshare, and Sony looking to keep it, Nintendo, and its underperforming Wii U, are in a bad position. This is not to say that they are going to pull a SEGA any time soon, but given where they were just a few years ago, it really makes you wonder how much they understand the market they once dominated.
Skipping the big press event at E3 means that they are not only missing out on having an opportunity to speak to fans, and gaining international coverage that reaches non-gamers, but they are also missing out on instilling confidence in the future of the brand. The importance of having a major press event at the Electronics Entertainment Expo can arguably be bigger than having a presence on the floor itself, as the press conference is something easily televised, and it allows Nintendo to speak directly about their products. Since they are opting to not go down that road, even though they do have the much smaller Nintendo Direct, it must mean that they’re under the impression that they will lose more face than they will gain, or that it just isn’t worth the cost.
Simply by avoiding to have the conference, Nintendo will be able to save a bit of cash and use it in places they would be more likely to successfully compete. They have stated that “…we will launch a succession of Wii U titles and we will promote these extensively until the end of the year. Marketing activity will include TV, print, online and PR as well as comprehensive experiential and social media campaigns.” But, this marketing push is slated to begin in July, just a month after their competitors will be pushing their next-gen entries in full force. This feels like Nintendo is trying to cut corners because they don’t have anything to show, which means that they will only to be overshadowed by their much more powerful adversaries.
Nintendo is in one of two camps at the moment – either they have nothing to show of much consequence for the next year, or they do have something up their sleeve, but do not have enough confidence to show it. Sadly, whichever is true, they really have pinned themselves into a corner and are in a bad way.
What do you think of Nintendo’s current position in the market? Have you bought a Wii U? Is Nintendo not having a conference at E3 a sign of things to come? Let us know in the comments below, shoot us an email at [email protected], or use our friend-codes at Seb and Dan.