When Nintendo announced they wouldn’t hold a press conference at this year’s E3, the video game industry’s showcase event, it was more than just an effort to focus their dwindling resources on something that might show a tangible return.
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For Nintendo, this is the white flag. They are officially out of the next generation race.
Nintendo has always gone its own way, for better or worse. Their first party characters like Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi have maintained their kid friendly-ness while Sony and Microsoft have become known as the place for more mature titles like Call of Duty, The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher. Yes, Xbox Live is also known as the home of douchebags who harass women and the PlayStation 3 is known for getting late, sloppy ports but outside of increasingly expensive high end PCs there is no other place to play those kinds of games.
With the Wii, Nintendo made a tremendous amount of money selling consoles to people who had never bought a game console before. What they failed to consider is that the lifeblood of the video game industry is people who buy many games in one year. The average Wii owner was content to play whatever came packed in with the system and the occasional Mario Kart game.
As the sales of the Wii U, the Wii’s successor, continue to stagnate the results of Nintendo’s strategy are becoming apparent. All those people with a Wii don’t see a reason to buy another one when the first one still plays Wii Sports Resort. As for harcore gamers, they’ve given up believing Nintendo when they say that third party developers will bring the kind of games they want to the console in a timely fashion. It didn’t happen on the Wii and outside of the occasional Bayonetta II or ZombieU is unlikely to happen on the Wii U.
And if Nintendo can’t compete, it certainly doesn’t want to be on stage drawing inevitable comparisons to Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles. The company says it will be on the show floor showing its goods to journalists and will be using its periodic Nintendo Direct web seminars to keep fans up on all things Nintendo.
But those channels are for Nintendo loyalists. The E3 press conferences by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were the companies chance to get their latest gizmo onto the evening news in front of people who don’t read video game web sites but might have once owned a system.
By not participating in the E3 press conference, Nintendo is saying that they’re only going to talk to people who were already interested in them. And that’s a rapidly shrinking audience.
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