Yesterday, on the same day that rival Sony launched PlayStation Vita in Europe and North America, Nintendo hosted three online broadcasts designed to reveal and publicise upcoming services and titles. It was the second time Nintendo Direct had taken place, though the timing and execution of this second run showed that the company was stepping it up in terms of marketing, communications and generally building hype.
One criticism levelled at Nintendo in recent years is that it has failed to truly grasp modern networking means of advertising. Nintendo has often, with some justification, relied on the quality of its brands and products to do a lot of the work, while rivals in the gaming industry have been more aggressive in grabbing attention through any means necessary.
We’re not suggesting that Nintendo hasn’t invested heavily in advertising: substantial television campaigns and hands-on events were held for the launch of 3DS, as an example. Conventional tactics of advertising in print publications and on websites have also been common, while the company isn’t shy of sending out regular press releases to websites to encourage internet exposure. Nintendo has always worked hard on advertising, and can boast of recent marketing success stories contributing to phenomenal sales of Wii and DS consoles.
Nintendo Direct, however, represents a welcome modernisation of the company’s efforts to raise awareness and excitement around its products. The timing of the latest broadcasts clashed directly — and intentionally — with Vita’s launch and the presentation by Satoru Iwata, then translated and updated for the European video, contained a well crafted range of details, reveals and teasers.
Nintendo Direct represents a welcome modernisation of the company’s efforts to raise awareness and excitement around its products.
Iwata’s presentation provided greater detail on Kid Icarus: Uprising, a release date and information for Mario Tennis Open, a juicy trailer for Fire Emblem: Kakusei and confirmation of a Europe release in 2012, and an announcement of a new Dr. Kawashima title coming to 3DS. That wasn’t even all of the news that came out on the day, but provides an indication of the fine balance between promoting upcoming titles and teasing others that are further away.
Reggie Fils-Aime once again presented his own broadcast for North America, though after the shiny-chinned appearance last time, this presentation was altogether slicker and more interesting to watch. Although not quite as content-heavy as Iwata’s message, and also a fair bit shorter, this version did focus on news of particular interest in the region: the blockbuster announcement was that The Last Story is on the way. This video also showed a couple of different areas of Nintendo of America’s HQ, with a teasing glimpse of Nintendo Treehouse, home to localisation teams.
Not only were all three Nintendo Direct broadcasts useful and attention-grabbing, but it was interesting to see how big an impact they had online, particular on Twitter. The social networking site was flooded with tweets reacting to every announcement as it came, with quite a few games journalists in particular being distracted from the shiny new handheld that had just hit stores. Nothing gets games writers’ juices flowing like release dates and teasers, so Nintendo Direct was getting plenty of coverage around the 'net.
On the subject of Twitter, this week also saw minor landmarks for Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo UK, both setting up new accounts on the site. It seems incredible to say that these regional sections of the company had no presence on such a major social networking platform until now, but it at least shows that both are willing to battle for gamer’s attentions as they tweet about their days. Not only that, but we saw the first signs of Nintendo making greater use of its own messaging service, with marketing messages due to be sent to 3DS owners through Nintendo Letter Box, or Swapnote as it’s known in North America. The broadcasts themselves were announced through this app, with gamers able to marvel at the slightly scruffy handwriting of Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime: a charming personal touch.
We certainly appreciated the appearance of Nintendo Direct here on Nintendo Life, with the news day having the feel of a mini-E3. There’s also the feeling here that Nintendo didn’t use all of its big announcements in one session, with upcoming 3DS releases such as Paper Mario, Luigi’s Mansion 2 and Animal Crossing, not to mention the looming Wii U, totally absent. More Nintendo Direct is undoubtedly on the way, and we can’t wait.
Nintendo will no doubt continue to employ marketing through traditional means, such as TV, print and website advertisements, while we’d expect Wii U to have similar hands-on events to those that took 3DS on the road in 2011. It’s through internet buzz and hype, however, that Nintendo can take these efforts to another level. Whether writing or reading about video games, there’s an undeniable enjoyment in events like Nintendo Direct, serving as a perfect reminder to us all why we love gaming as much as we do.