Feature: What We Expect From Nintendo's E3 Direct

Quite a lot, actually

So after plenty of build up and waiting for all the other presentations to finish, the E3 Nintendo Direct is now a matter of hours away. It's a diversion away from the live presentations of past years, but as a pre-recorded and scripted video it has the potential to be a well-paced extravaganza; we hope it'll seize the day for Wii U not just within our community here on Nintendo Life, but with the media and consumers around the world.

And Nintendo knows what it's up against. Sony and Microsoft have both pitched their new systems, with intriguingly mixed results. Microsoft focused on games, which is clearly important after its TV-centric reveal weeks ago; yet, it came in with a whopping retail price of $499 to accompany its various controversial DRM features. On Sony's part, it revealed that DRM and always-online wouldn't be an issue — as if that's even a feature — and undercut Microsoft with a price of $399.

What's unlikely is that Nintendo will directly respond to what's happened elsewhere, particularly the sub-$400 PS4, as it may be a largely pre-recorded affair. With that said, there's scope for Nintendo to have a live segment somewhere in the stream, with all three major figureheads — Satoru Iwata, Reggie Fils-Aime and Shigeru Miyamoto — at E3 to do the rounds with the media and show a presence at the booth. Nintendo, as is often the case, has been very careful with the information that it's revealed about what's coming, so in truth it's difficult to know how it'll be structured.

We do have some certainties, however, so below is what we expect to appear in the Nintendo Direct broadcast, along with a few of our hopes. You may notice we're focusing exclusively on Wii U, meanwhile; ideally Nintendo will make this a Wii U-only broadcast with a follow up 3DS equivalent on Wednesday or Thursday, but we'll have to wait and see if that comes to pass.

Games, games, games, and games

So yes, games. Wii U's struggles to date can't be pinned on one reason, but we can safely say the the software to date has been a major contributor to what's been a launch well below Nintendo's own expectations. Despite some titles that are undoubtedly of a high standard, none so far have been significant mainstream system-selling success stories, which is what Nintendo aims to deliver in the coming months.

And deliver it will, it seems. In the coming weeks and months we have dates for New Super Luigi U, the long awaited Pikmin 3 and the exciting Platinum Games title The Wonderful 101; Fall is also expected to bring The Wind Waker HD and a number of third-party efforts — despite the disappointing lack of additional multi-platform games supporting Wii U so far at E3.

Our hope is that games just around the corner will be advertised as such, with a snappy sizzle reel to remind us of what's coming before promptly moving on. It seems safe to assume that most really want to see more of games either teased or briefly shown before. Top of the list, two of which are anticipated to arrive this year, are Super Mario 3D and Mario Kart, while footage of Super Smash Bros. is likely to be a major high-point despite a 2014 release, at the earliest. Whether one or both Mario titles arrive this Holiday season, they'll be hugely important in driving festive sales, so the footage will need to have a wow factor that shows not only the Wii U graphical power at play, but perhaps more importantly how the GamePad will be utilised for a unique gaming experience.

There's a long list of other games that could be shown, some of which may arrive this year and others likely to be in 2014. We're may not see them all, but examples such as Yarn Yoshi, Monolith Soft's X, SEGA's Sonic Lost World and Platinum's Bayonetta 2 would all be welcome in some form, as they're all exclusives and full of promise.

And then there are surprises, or so we hope. One priority for a number of Nintendo gamers must be to see the next project from Retro Studios. Its work has been tightly under wraps, so it's unknown whether it'll be a new IP or another new take on an existing franchise. It's not officially confirmed that Retro Studios will feature, but the time seems ripe after over two years of near silence. We also hope for at least one additional third-party exclusive — that may seem unlikely after the Wii U's near-total absence in EA and Ubisoft's presentations, but we'll stay optimistic for now.

The arrival of the 32GB Wii U Basic Model and more accessories

This seems like a foregone conclusion, with it already confirmed for Japan and it being a logical step, so we expect this to be formally announced. Recent revelations suggest that the role of the Basic 8GB model will become much less; it may not be a full product recall, but stock levels are likely to be lower with a greater focus on the Deluxe.

Japan is also receiving a GamePad battery, so that seems likely to be localised, and if affordable will help to address a common complaint with the controller. We may see some extra Wii Remote + Game bundles, too — the Nintendo Land offering in Japan is unlikely in the West as it's a Deluxe pack-in, but an option with New Super Luigi U and/or New Super Mario Bros. U would make a lot of sense.

And one more thing

We do feel, with the pricing of Xbox One and PS4 at $499 and $399 respectively, that it would benefit the Wii U Deluxe to be $299, necessitating a $50 price cut — making the Basic $249. It would look appealing on a retail shelf to see the Wii U a full $100 lower than its nearest new rival, especially if a bombardment of major releases will signify, symbolically, a second launch for the system.

A price cut, combined with Mario titles, was a significant success for 3DS in the Holiday season of 2011, so applying the same logic again wouldn't be surprising. If Nintendo does plan a price cut, what's uncertain is whether it would be announced today, or delayed for a future announcement in a few week's time, as was the case with the 3DS in reaction to Sony's Vita pricing announcement at E3 2011.

This is speculative, of couse, and Nintendo may decide to stick the course with its current pricing, but it seems like a logical possibility.

So that's some of what we expect in today's E3 Nintendo Direct. We also expect, most of all, that it'll be hugely exciting. The last time Nintendo went all out with a Wii U Direct in January it caused waves around social networks and among Nintendo fans; if it can capture some of that magic today, it could be memorable.

So what do you expect and hope to see? Let us know in the comments below.

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