E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is still the big thing in gaming. Every year, developers, publishers, journalists, investors, and fans go to Los Angeles for an event that is all about gaming. Games and consoles are announced over the internet. Leading up to the event, fans speculate about what they might see. After the event, people talk about why they are disappointed or what they are looking forward to. All the while, journalists are frantically typing to try to convey everything there is to know. Honestly, it’s not a great system and Nintendo has proven that.
A few years ago, Nintendo started doing its own thing with its Nintendo Direct events. These occur multiple times throughout the year, including during E3. They are informative, entertaining, and, most importantly, of a more immediate relevance. You see, the games that appear during these events aren’t distant dreams. Instead, they are games that are right around the corner. This is because Nintendo, as a first party developer, has a lot going on. They possess an unrivaled amount of popular franchises and the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch are both extremely appealing to indie developers.
It all creates this feeling that Nintendo respects the time and attention of its fans more. There’s not much reason to place a tiny seed of information in the back of someone’s head, and then slowly drip feed them information for a few years. Worse, the games might come out years later or just end up canceled altogether. Nintendo Directs seem to work around this problem.
The events also feel more exciting, even though they are also more common. Between events, fans talk about what they want and what they are excited about. It’s almost as if Nintendo is listening and, when the company has something to announce, it knows just how to tease and reveal it. These Directs also seem to contain more information than traditional events. I struggle to think of times where I’ve learned as much about a game as I have during the Nintendo Directs for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even when the events are basically a string of trailers, there’s still enough information given for each title that it is relatively easy to write a news post about them.
Other publishers have this ability. At the very least, Microsoft and Sony could be doing something similar. It isn’t like they don’t have good games of their own, even if they don’t have a handheld market resembling Nintendo’s and their two platforms are pretty similar. Truthfully, I’m not sure why they don’t. Is it because six years of Crackdown 3 updates would get grating?
The thing is, these Nintendo Directs are fun for everybody and seem clearly beneficial. Following the September 2018 Nintendo Direct, game sites were full of Nintendo stuff. That coverage continued into the week after. Then, ahead of the next Nintendo Direct, we’ll see more buzz. With these events, Nintendo has basically created days where fans get to celebrate the company and its systems. They give people at GameStop something to talk about. There’s something that feels fun and exciting about it. There’s something that feels similar to how E3 or Nintendo Power coverage used to feel. There’s something remarkably innocent about the big business that is Nintendo, and that’s good for gaming.
Beyond just the benefits for Nintendo, the Directs also offer opportunities to third party publishers. For indie developers, this is especially nice, as they get a special focus on their game that is removed from the noise of something like E3. It also makes sense for companies like Square Enix, who likely don’t mind a good platform for talking to a large audience of gamers. A ton of Final Fantasy news was announced at the September 2018 Nintendo Direct. Some of this news was exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, but a lot of it also applied to the Xbox One. Regardless, a lot of the conversation and coverage focused on Nintendo.
I know there are a lot of gamer events in a year. I know Sony has its own yearly thing, too. I know the companies are always competing for attention. I know there are fanboys who are going to ignite the comment sections at every bend. But there’s something to be said about separate events for separate fans. The focus then becomes about the games and not the competition, even if competition will always be intrinsically present. So come on, guys. Be fun like Nintendo.