Can you hear it? There’s a faint rumbling in the video game community. The tremors you feel can only be one thing: E3.
For the uninitiated, E3 is basically the video game world’s county fair where every company goes and shows off their biggest tomato. Most recently, Nintendo announced their annual financial results, and explained that their upcoming console, codenamed the NX, will be released in March of 2017. This is fine and dandy, but they also explained that the NX will not be making an appearance at 2016’s E3, but rather later this year.
Having the new console be shown later in this year is not necessarily a bad thing, but, at first glance, it is likely not the best course of action that can be taken. While there are other large video game expos, E3 is the one that garners the most interest and media coverage to the general population. Of course, much of the general population may not avidly play video games, but marketing is invaluable nevertheless. The Wii U is a testament to this.
It’s no secret that the Wii U has been a financial failure, despite being mostly well-received by critics; good games aren’t enough. One major problem with the Wii U, besides its confusing name, was its marketing. Look me in the eyes and tell me you remember the day the Nintendo Wii U was released. It’s not likely you did, because there were hardly any advertisements for it anywhere. Its launch was quieter than Samus.
On top of that, the concept of the GamePad was poorly differentiated, making it seem like more of a peripheral for the Wii rather than an all-new console. Showing off a system and explaining its capabilities and features is immeasurably vital to a gadget’s success. Otherwise, people won’t find a reason to purchase it. Word-of-mouth is very important too, but it’s not enough.
For its first year on the market, the Wii U went largely unnoticed. As a result, third-party developers slowly shimmied away, leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths and leaving first-party games to give people the only reason to purchase one of the systems. While Nintendo has expressed that plenty of third-party developers are on-board to develop for the NX, it won’t do anyone any good if it’s not shown off to as many people as possible.
Quite frankly, advertising is a necessary evil. Of course, it can be obnoxious, but it can also save a company. The Nintendo Wii had charming commercials to help bring wide-spread appeal, and it wound up being the fifth best-selling video game system of all time. Its innovation in motion control technology contributed to its allure, but the majority of consumers needed to know about it before they bought it. While it’s still unclear what exactly the NX will be, one can only hope that it will be flaunted for its sake.
This isn’t to say that not showing the NX off at E3 will dig the console its own grave, because it very well might hold its own, but it can use the push. With a 61% dip in profits in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, they can use all the help they can get.
As awkward as it sounds, the NX’s release for next March could work wonders. It’s a heavy but bold hit to miss the 2016 holiday season on top of missing E3. With that extra time, the system can launch with a bevy of titles to choose from, which, in turn, can mean new titles to advertise.
Nintendo seems to be taking a lot of risks, and that might be a good sign of their confidence in the device. The Wii U released just in the time for the holiday season, and its weak launch line-up could very likely be attributed to the strong possibility that there was a lot of pressure for the console to be released in time for days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Basically, at first glance, it looks like Nintendo is doing the opposite of everything that made the Wii U falter.
Avoiding E3 will also give the NX the benefit of avoiding the possibility of being overshadowed by whatever Sony and Microsoft may reveal at the expo. With the NX being shown off on its own later this year, it can have the stage all to itself, perhaps gaining even stronger media coverage than it would at E3, drowned out by the hundreds of other announcements. The NX can easily be a success without help from E3 2016, but not without making waves elsewhere.
Yes, Nintendo, get that stage all to yourself. We hope you will be the prettiest girl at the debutante ball. Let’s see you be the belle of the quinceañera. Get loud. We want to see the pros outweight the cons. Forget E3, honey, you need someone that will treat you right. You deserve it after these rough few years. Treat yo self.