Skipping an E3 reveal for the Nintendo NX is the wrong move

Chris Stead 2 May 2016

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Nintendo has declared it will not provide a big reveal for its next console at this year’s E3 video games trade show in Los Angeles. That could be a big mistake.

I was at E3 in 2005 when the Wii was announced. The GameCube, its predecessor, was seen as a failure and – in comparison to the 150 million-selling PS2 – it was. As is the case now in 2016, Nintendo went to the 2005 show needing to rebound from a dud console generation with something that would bring the company back into the industry discussion. Make it relevant again.

I was blown away by the Nintendo Wii on first sight. Miyamoto and co played Wii Sports on stage and everyone just sat there with jaws on the ground. Twilight Princess was then played and grown men cried - seriously. And the ridiculous Sony conference from the day before – which announced the PS3 via a floating duck - was a painful memory drowned out by cheery Mario tunes and mushroom delights. The next day, the next week, the next month, the next year, everyone was talking about the Wii. By the time the console released at Christmas the following year, it was the hottest ticket in town.

There are plenty of other reasons why the Wii got off to such a great start – namely the global financial crisis hit and the idea of buying a relatively cheap $400 Wii that worked on your existing CRT TV was appealing when compared with the $1000 (in Australia at least) high-end PlayStation 3 that demanded an HD TV and a surround sound system. But the point is, it all started at that E3. That is where the momentum began.

This year, Nintendo will not show the Nintendo NX at E3 as it did with the Wii over a decade ago. It will show at least one game coming to the console in the new Legend of Zelda, but considering the hardware will remain top secret, we can only assume it will be the Wii U version on display.

So why hide the console? Only 10 months out from the intended release date, it’s time to make a splash and to ensure the company is relevant during a period where PlayStation will push its virtual reality platform, and Xbox will push the HoloLens.

Does Nintendo have no faith in the product? Is it worried about crippling Wi U sales (too late for that!)? Does it actually have nothing significant to show-off and announce? Why would you not use arguably the biggest platform the industry has to reveal a console – a platform with a strong tradition that has served Nintendo well in the past? Why not be proud and assertive about its new hardware?

Skipping an E3 reveal is a bad look for third-party publishers wondering whether to support the format. It’s a bad look for consumers wondering whether to drop some cash on a PS4 with VR bundle or wait for anNX. It’s a bad look for retailers hoping to gauge fan reaction and to decide how much to stock ahead of launch. It’s a bad look in general.

If you have a better platform than E3, Nintendo, then tell us what that is and when we can experience it; give us a reason to love again.

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