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When Nintendo announced that they wouldn’t be hosting a live press conference at E3 2013, I thought of it as the beginning of the end to what E3 stands for. While I still believe that’s the case, Nintendo sure picked a horrible year to make such a drastic change. Since Nintendo isn’t representing themselves in the traditional fashion during these tough times, they need to step up their game and make themselves known in a way Nintendo hasn’t ever done before. So the question is, what can Nintendo do to turn their console around?
Have MAGNIFICENT Nintendo Directs
Nintendo’s not airing a traditional live press conference and will opt for smaller conferences dedicated to particular audiences, with multiple Nintendo Directs aimed for gamers. That means unlike their competitors, it won’t air on Spike and mainstream media won’t report on it. Going against two console unveils, Nintendo needs to do something extremely memorable, something so memorable that it must be covered by everyone.
As long as they have enough content to support it, Nintendo’s focus is to air as many Directs as they possibly can throughout the week. This strategy forces the gaming press to stop what they are doing multiple times and listen to what the folks at Nintendo have to say. In addition, they should mimic what they did at E3 last year with launching their first announcements with a Nintendo Direct on the Sunday before the conferences.
The problem is that Nintendo couldn't excite much in the last two E3’s and those starred an unreleased console, so it’ll be tough to garner a ton of attention this year now that the Wii U is out and stagnating.
Focus on Wii U
After the last two Nintendo Directs, it’s safe to say that the 3DS is in a good spot software-wise right now. While the 3DS is trailing the DS’ sales at this current point in its lifecycle, we see Nintendo’s solution to this situation clearly: push system-selling software in a consistent timeframe. They can safely rely on Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokémon X/Y creating surges of hardware sales. With that, we can forgive Nintendo if they decide on ignoring 3DS-related announcements for the next couple months.
The Wii U however just seems to get worse every week. Big games are constantly getting announced without Wii U versions. Entire genres are going to be unrepresented on Wii U, including first-person shooters like Battlefield 4 and thanks to 2K announcing NBA 2K14 and WWE 2K14 without Wii U versions this week, the entire 2014 sports catalog. Wii U versions of released games are inferior versions. Wii U customers are constantly hounding developers on Twitter about whether DLC will ever hit their investment (Injustice is the sole success story, still nothing on Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2). Nintendo needs to address these issues and give us plans on how they’re fixing it.
The first thing that Nintendo needs to do is announce a lot of system-selling stuff. We know that the next 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. will be shown off for the first time, with the two Marios releasing this fiscal year (March 2014). We are bound to see Retro Studios’ next project and hopefully we’ll see more on the successor to Xenoblade, but even those aren't enough. Nintendo cannot supply the console with every type of game single-handedly and with their third-party partners no longer acting like partners, hopefully Nintendo announces great stuff that makes those who snuffed the system regret those business decisions.
Start a Rebranding Effort at E3
Sony shocked me when they did a complete rebranding of the PS3 in 2009. All new logos, marketing campaigns, boxart templates, color schemes and a new model of the system helped burn its awful Spider-Man font, expensive price point, and giant enemy crab past. The Wii U is in an enigma to the public, so I think Nintendo needs to do a facelift ASAP.
It feels like Nintendo is in the midst of this process at the moment because they are currently silent about the console. There are no commercials of the system at the moment and no current first-party software push since LEGO City’s launch two months ago. It feels like Nintendo is planning something to tell the world that the Wii U is a new system and not some accessory for the old Wii, I just wish Wii U owners knew what’s going on.
Show Off Big Third-Party Titles Hitting Wii U
With such a lack of third-party stuff hitting the system this year, it’s clear that Nintendo tries as much as they can to nab coverage of what they got. Two games that we know are hitting the system that they can really hype up are Batman Arkham Origins and Watch_Dogs.
Batman Arkham Origins is an easy game to focus on. With Sony and Microsoft showing off content for their new systems and with Batman only hitting the systems that are already out, there’s a good chance that if Nintendo had any chance of having some good coverage of the game, they’d eyeball WB (and vice-versa). Plus they can focus on multiple SKUs if they extend the coverage by showing off Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate on the 3DS. It would be a good time and place to discuss the title since it'll be the first time we would see anything on it since the Game Informer reveal. If Nintendo has this sort of strategy in mind, it would be smart to snag in-game exclusives like how Sony does with the Assassin’s Creed series.
Watch_Dogs, on the other hand, is tougher since it is hitting the newer Xbox and PlayStation systems. However, unlike Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Watch_Dogs is a new IP from the publisher that is consistently releasing triple-A titles on Wii U. Plus, unlike many Wii U versions of these triple-A games, the Wii U version is being developed in-house by Ubisoft Montreal along with every other version. This way, Nintendo can have a portion of a Direct focusing on the Watch_Dogs and how one may want to buy it on the Wii U versus at least the 360 and PS3 versions for those who aren't upgrading to new hardware this fall.
So Nintendo wants to revolutionize how E3 is presented to the public this year, and while that’s all well and good, I just hope they have a strategy to take advantage of this new approach and get their flailing system off the ground. While I’m extremely anxious, I know that whether they announce their content in a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct or live on the stage at the Nokia Theater, I’m excited on seeing games that I’m going to play on the Wii U in the future.