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m0zart I'm a software engineer professionally and a student of Objectivism on the armchair who loves capitalism and one of its most worthy aesthetic products, the video game industry.

Title: E3 -- Nintendo *fails*
Posted: July 12, 2007 (10:47 AM)
This iswritten off the cuff, more as a rant than anything else.It isn't as well organized as I usually write, but that's to be expected. I just need to get this off of my chest about the recent E3 performance, particularly how Sony performed this year vs. Nintendo and how that contrasts with previous years' performances.

Judging Sony's presentation strictly as a show, it was SO much better than what the other two companies put out there. It was energetic, fast-paced, wasn't built on a numbers game, and showed new things I hadn't really seen before. I know the PSP redesign isn't fantastic, but I really liked it personally. I like its smaller design, that they kept the screen size, extended the battery life, and added a feature to use it as a console so you can play the games on your TV while at home. Given that that's the way I prefer to play any handheld (except for the DS), I really appreciated that feature. Hell they had Chewbacca, and that simple PSP game they showed where the physics of your environment changes based on the player's viewing angle -- I almost had a nerdgasm for those two things alone. But the biggest thing is that, unlike last year's Sony show, this year's didn't work as hard on offending my sensitibilities with viral marketing ads. Regardless of whether or not you liked or were impressed by what Sony showed, they very clearly took charge and made the experience one of strictly showing what they had to offer rather than endlessly talking about numbers.

My worst memory of the Sony show from last year was that stupid and needlessly long montage video of "real people on the street" talking about how great Sony was. It stinks of treating gamers like dumbies who can't identify a viral marketing ad when they see one. It had a huge negative reaction from gamers similar to the reaction from that dumb "I want a PSP for Christmas" website they set up which came back to bite them in the behind only five months later. This year I think they learned their lesson, but Nintendo seems to have failed to learn it by observation. I honestly hated that Nintendo had to follow suit this year and put those dumb youtube-esque video montages up -- not just one mind you -- every time that Reggie wanted to take a break, there was yet another low-IQ commercial popping up there full of viral marketing hype. It was so Sony-from-last-year's-E3 -- they almost made me feel played to. I think just by removing those dumb things they could have improved their presentation -- that's how much of a negative I think they were.

I love Nintendo's direction. I really do. It's my favorite console this gen. so far. I don't like being negative about Nintendo. But that conference was simply underwhelming, with the only thing saving it from being a total loss being that they showed clips from some of their anticipated upcoming games, showed some new peripherals and games that looked interesting, and gave a real timeline for online play experiences. Even then, the gameplay they showed of Zelda DS and Metroid Prime 3 was so short and full of talk, that it was hardly noticeable -- it almost seemed like an ad for that couple's "hardcore gaming website" more than a glimpse of those games. I doubt the time they spent showing actual gameplay during those segments was as long as even one of those youtube-esque video montages. Now obviously, the "hardcore gaming website" couple were brought on stage and featured in a video because Nintendo is concerned that they might lose that group of people. But you don't do that by adding more wallpaper to your marketing presentation -- you do it by SHOWING us what you have coming up that caters to us.

I believe that this year Sony had the best presentation. They may not have "stolen the show" overall the way Nintendo did last year, but their presentation was the most enjoyable and did the least to insult my intelligence. And even after all I said about Nintendo's show, I could easily say much more negative about Microsoft's, which I thought was even worse with all the dubious number throws that were intended to prove to me that Microsoft is "driving the industry", while targetting becoming the new Wii with a Disney sign-on. Obviously I still think Nintendo has the better overall direction, at least from a business standpoint, and my comments here are strictly related to the show they put on at E3. But that's really what E3 is anyway -- a show, and the level at which a particular company talks down to its audience in their part of that show has always been one of the biggest factors for me.

I think what I am looking for in that kind of show is excitement -- a clear, compact, and fast-paced presentation of exciting things to come in the future. In the past, Nintendo was clearly on the prowl in their shows. They intended to steal the show, and they did it, even though they weren't sure at that point they would win the market. They had no marketshare to lose and could only really go up rather than down. There was this energy to it that the other two didn't have. Now it seems like it's been reversed. Nintendo almost seemed like it was in protectionist mode, like they were doing their best to protect their new marketshare from intrusion rather than keep it by demonstrating it was viable for the future. As someone who really believes it is viable, I find the failure to demonstrate it on stage to be almost inexcusible. I wish they remembered from before that the best way to do that is by showing us real things that are coming up in thick, long segments that concentrate on them as new content to be excited about, instead of viral marketing displays and number crunches.

In the vast scheme of things, it's better that Nintendo has actually gained marketshare this time around and lost the E3 performance rather than the inverse condition, which has been prevalent for the last couple of years. But Nintendo needs to remember that E3 was one of the biggest vehicles for their current success. It was at trade shows like E3 that they were able to demonstrate their direction and generate the interest they are currently enjoying. It got their ideas out there and showed they were viable. The best approach is not to tell us your numbers and how viable you are from a financial perspective -- let us, the buying public worry about that. Instead, show us what you have coming down the pipeline. Convince us that you have things worth taking a look at, things that are coming in the future, things we won't want to ignore. We don't need another hard sell at our door with you wearing your Sunday best and handing out quasi-religious pamphlets about the Kingdom of God. We want to see the Kingdom in action.

honestgamerUser: honestgamer
Posted: July 12, 2007 (11:03 AM)
The Wii is very much a system that is successful because of the viral campaigns we've seen over the last year. Nintendo pretty much had to show those videos, not for the gamers but for the casual news media and for shareholders. Those were the people those bits were directed at. As much as I hated the montages--and I did hate them--I did recognize their absolute necessity.

Nintendo's show was underwhelming compared to Sony's (which focused on glitz and glamor in an ongoing effort to make the PSP and PS3 exciting), but it also nailed the points it needed to. The biggest disappointment was a lack of even more gameplay video. That's what the core audience wanted to see: the same stuff they've been downloading and watching for months.

People will remember Sony's conference for a long time to come, but they'll mostly be talking about things they shouldn't, like Chewbacca coming on stage. That was epic... and did nothing to increase my interest in any Sony hardware. Sony put on a good show from the showmanship perspective (better than Nintendo did), but it didn't prove anything. All it did was hold off Microsoft, something it wouldn't have done if Microsoft had managed a competent show.

The real loser was clearly Microsoft, which focused only on things we already knew about (with the exception of two new casual games), but that doesn't mean there was a real winner between Sony and Nintendo. Someone needs to bring back the old E3 format for next year.

m0zartUser: m0zart
Posted: July 12, 2007 (01:05 PM)
People will remember Sony's conference for a long time to come, but they'll mostly be talking about things they shouldn't, like Chewbacca coming on stage. That was epic... and did nothing to increase my interest in any Sony hardware. Sony put on a good show from the showmanship perspective (better than Nintendo did), but it didn't prove anything. All it did was hold off Microsoft, something it wouldn't have done if Microsoft had managed a competent show.

Chewbacca was an anchor -- an anchor that will allow people to remember things they SHOULD remember but maybe wouldn't have without such an anchor. And Chewbacca did that because he was entertaining.

Compare that with Nintendo's viral marketing vids shown at the show, which will only be remembered in the same vein as Sony's "on the street" vids from last year's E3, and their pathetic "I want a PSP for Christmas" website written in dawg-speak. These things cannot be compared with Nintendo's rather viral public campaign, which is excellently done and keeps people interested, such as the "Wii Want to Play" commercials. No, these are dividable into two completely different classes of effort and effect.

A year from now, I think many are going to remember Nintendo's videos with a smirk, and not a good smirk at that. But are they going to remember the games and direction that Nintendo intended to use them to anchor into? I doubt it. I don't think people are going to forget that Sony came in with nothing and showed a lot of stuff worth seeing, and by that time, that most of it wouldn't come until 2008 will be a non-issue. And that's the difference between a good show that gets its point across in an entertaining fashion, and one that bores the tears out of you, or worse even makes you feel a good bit talked down to.

I actually think Microsoft and Nintendo made similar mistakes this year. They both had a LOT to show really, things that could have really caught my interest, and to some extent they did, but not to the extent they could have. They mired so much of their presentation in a flawed campaign to sell me how great they were in the market -- each one trying to convince me that they are the driving forces. They could have done that much better with less figures and more gameplay footage.

Heck, think of what a great set of games that Microsoft and Nintendo have for the remainder of this year that they could have made a bigger focus -- and instead I am left giggling at the show overall and barely remembering the gameplay footage I saw. The awkwardness of their presentations was also a factor. Seriously, if Reggie says "I know what you guys are thinking" in that sarcastic chagrin while doing that quote/un-quote thing with his hands one more time, I am going to throw a Wiimote at him.

EmPUser: EmP
Posted: July 14, 2007 (04:20 AM)
To be fair, Nintendo and Microsoft can drop the ball as often as they like and they're still going to thrash Sony. Likewise, Sony can be faultless from now on, but their problems lie a million miles away from pumping out perfect promos and more in their actual product and how nobody wants it. I may not like being spoken to like I'm a gullible idiot from firms, but it's not going to stop me from buying products I think I'll enjoy from them.

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