Nintendo’s Increasingly Tight PR At E3

As of this writing I’m still not sure how Nintendo’s decision to yet again forgo a big E3 press conference will affect the company and its products going forward. Nintendo’s obviously in a different position from Sony or Microsoft these days and there are probably advantages to taking a different approach, but does Nintendo have them right now?

My first thoughts upon seeing Nintendo’s E3 2014 plans — releasing a pre-recorded PR video, holding a tournament for the new Super Smash Bros., bringing that game to Best Buy kiosks, and holding E3 livestreams with developers, was sheer hype regarding Smash. You can believe I’m gonna try to be at Best Buy that week, and that might be enough to keep me hyped for Nintendo. It’s also probably Nintendo’s best chance to sell me on the Wii U version of Smash for when it comes out months after the version for the 3DS I already own.

The main criticism against Nintendo’s current PR path is that it amounts to restricting the company’s messaging to extremely narrow, controlled channels. The E3 press conferences themselves however are already very much controlled channels. They’re really more press briefings than press conferences since people don’t ask questions there.

The difference between that and a Nintendo Direct in my opinion though is reach — I haven’t seen any proof Nintendo’s pre-recorded online streams actually reach anyone outside games journalists and hardcore fans. E3 conferences reach mainstream news publications and through them mainstream readers, and I’ve seen that effect play out. Will Nintendo get the message out to general audiences about Smash Bros. or any other software it might show at E3? I’m having a hard time imagining that happening. Tech sites will eventually report it, but all I’ve seen coming from mainstream news about Nintendo recently are stories about lagging sales.

Nintendo’s games will still be playable at E3 and we’ll probably get great impressions of those from industry journalists. Have you ever read preview impressions from anyone outside that group though?

One reason this E3 is really important for Nintendo is because the release schedules for 3DS and Wii U for later this year are kind of barren. Nintendo loves to announce games at E3 that are less than six months from launch, but how many can it really give us in the span of essentially one Nintendo Direct?

Giving a heavily controlled presentation at an expo can work if you bring the right message. I just don’t know what kind of message Nintendo can bring at this point outside the usual games. If Iwata really means to redefine Nintendo, he might try to make a pretty big statement at E3 this year, but who knows.


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