Nintendo at E3 2013: Going Humble Rather Than Big
While the two modern day big guns slugged in out on the battlefields of E3, Nintendo went down a much smaller and humble route; there were no big stage shows, just a stream direct from Nintendo–nothing flash. This route felt relevant to what Nintendo had to show everyone, and it felt like a showcase of games for their fans rather than for the gamer masses. Sure, they showed off some of the third-party support–which must have been weakened by the closure of THQ–but for the most part, the limelight was on Nintendo’s franchises.
This E3 was always going to be about Microsoft Vs Sony. It’s undeniable. Two rival companies launching their new systems on the same day is rare, and when it happens the buzz is electric. Nintendo did themselves a favor by stepping down and doing their own thing in their own way. Where Sony and Microsoft were loud and proud, Nintendo were quiet and humble. Some will say Nintendo chickened out; others will say it was a good decision to stay away from the main stage.
Nintendo’s stream at E3 was a mixture of games that pleased the fanbase, but at the same time left some longing for more. It’s no secret that the Wii U is failing to convince the majority of people, and Nintendo addressed this by announcing a new Smash Bros title, along with Mario Kart 8 and a new Donkey Kong. While these games gained the attention of Nintendo fans from around the globe, they did little to draw the interest of non-Nintendo fans. (Yes, that’s right, not everyone is a Nintendo fan.) But perhaps they weren’t really aiming to grab the attention of everyone else. Perhaps they just wanted the attention of the Nintendo fans.
While it may be short-sighted in terms of Wii U sales, it is proof that Nintendo have not forgotten the system. Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros made the impact I imagine Nintendo were seeking. Fans both young and old reacted to the reveals with a sense of giddiness that only Nintendo franchises seem to create. The new Super Mario World was an expected reveal because let’s face it, Mario is often rolled out at major events. But is that a bad thing? Not really. Mario games have always faired well and mostly provided top-notch entertainment. There was a sense of resentment from certain circles over yet another Mario title, but from a personal perspective, it would’ve been nice to see another Nintendo franchise on the Wii U other than Mario. Metroid, for example, is screaming for a Wii U début.
Nevertheless, away from Nintendo’s first-party games was Bayonetta 2 and the new IP from Platinum Games, The Wonderful 101. The latter seems like the obligatory ‘zaney’ title in the Wii U’s line up, and while it may not look totally original (let’s face it, it looks a lot like Pikmin), it does have a sense that it fits in well with the Nintendo ethos. On the other hand, Bayonetta 2, to this day, feels like such a great coup on Nintendo’s part to make it an exclusive. While it may not be an exclusive franchise, fans of Nintendo have seemingly taken in Bayonetta as their own. Unlike their competitors, Nintendo has avoided pointing out that Bayonetta 2 is an exclusive ’til they are blue in the face, and perhaps the way in which Nintendo has talked about Bayonetta 2 has helped this warmth from the fans towards the game.
Some left Nintendo’s stream feeling rather disappointed. Others–mostly people who have something of a love affair with Nintendo–left with a sense of optimism. Like it or not, Smash Bros is a killer app for many. It’s a franchise that is firmly in the hearts of many thanks to its simplicity and fun, and the reveal of Mega Man as a playable character is a testament to who this game is for: the old-school video game fan who wants fun over anything else. Those fans tend to be humble in how they approach most things in video games (bar the occasional rabid fan boy/girl), and Nintendo reflected this in how they approached E3; one for the fans, rather than the majority.
Did Nintendo do a good job of attracting the masses to the Wii U? Maybe not, but they did do a good job of enticing Nintendo fans looking for a reason to pick up a Wii U. While the rivals went to war, Nintendo looked after their own, and that’s alright in my book. The majority may see Nintendo at E3 being rather lacklustre but let’s face it, they intentionally weren’t going big this year, and for good reason.