As you may be aware, Nintendo hasn’t had a live E3 conference for a few years now, and have instead focused on releasing a Nintendo Direct video on their Youtube channel, followed by a Treehouse session where they show live gameplay. Many argue that this format is better for Nintendo because they are not good at doing conferences, and that is a valid point. However, Sony and Microsoft have also had their share of bad conferences, but the main difference with them is that they learn from their mistakes each time, and come back better.
Whilst the Nintendo Direct is free from mistakes, because it has been heavily edited, there is another issue that we need to be aware of; smoke and mirrors. When the companies are on stage, we, as gamers, can scrutinise all the games shown and can also get an idea of how far along the game is in the development cycle. For example, remember E3 2009 with Peter Molyneux’s Milo for Project Natal? Or Sony’s trailer for RiME at E3 2013? Or the Kinect Star Wars demo at E3 2011. At least we could see that something wasn’t quite right in these scenarios. However, in a pre-recorded video, we can’t surmise anything other than believe what is shown, similar to the RiME trailer and the several appearances of No Man’s Sky (I knew this game would be bad *smugface*).
Another aspect of having a Nintendo Direct is that it threatens to undermine the integrity of E3 as a whole. I mean what if all the companies started doing it? We’d all have to sit watching these digital events with no ability to see what’s real and what’s not. Could an entirely digital E3 even work??? E3 as a concept only works because it is organised by the ESA, and was originally a show for trade and retail partners, and there are thousands of attendees paying for tickets to cover part of the cost. There are probably advertising deals and other ways they make money also. However a digital event just would not work, and would potentially ruin E3. For example, there’s a big difference in watching a football match live in person, watching it live on TV and watching it when you’ve recorded it. With each format change, the atmosphere and the excitement lessens, despite the fact that you are watching the same thing. The crucial difference in the gaming world would be that the pre-recorded versions could be full of smoke and mirrors, and we wouldn’t be able to tell.
To some, this story might seem like a PlayStation fan bashing the competition, and everyone is entitled to that belief. However, I would like to think that at E3, we all want to be convinced by the software and hardware developers into purchasing their products. This year I want to see Microsoft convince me to buy an Xbox One or a Scorpio, and I want to see Nintendo prove to me that there will be hardcore games for the Switch other than Mario (Zelda already looks great, but I can’t justify purchasing the system for one game).
E3 works in it’s current format because it is hardcore gaming, concentrated into 4 or 5 days. It’s the biggest event in the gaming calendar, it’s exciting because the hardware and software developers know that consumers, trade, retail and stakeholders are keeping an eye on it. You won’t find a gamer that isn’t excited for this event, and despite Nintendo’s failings in previous live conferences, I still believe they should be putting their best foot forward at E3, because showing up and taking part on par with your competition matters. However, I will say that the Treehouse events that Nintendo have, do mitigate the risk of people being skeptical about what is shown, and they do get the gamers involved, so it’s not all bad.
However, Nintendo won’t do anything because they do their own thing no matter the cost to themselves. *sigh*