News Article

Talking Point: Nintendo's Innovative E3 Approach is a Breath of a Fresh Air

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Going its own way

As this article goes live Nintendo's Treehouse team will be well into its second day of live demonstrations, showing off projects and titles revealed in the Nintendo Digital Event. It's an approach from Nintendo to offer rolling coverage and continually seize attention, while the company has fulfilled an obligation for a major live event with its Super Smash Bros. Invitational; let's not forget that Best Buy stores in the US and Canada are hosting Super Smash Bros. for Wii U demo booths, too.

In contrast to past years, when the opening day — or day before in the case of various press conferences — was the main event before the focus shifted to sampling demos and interviews, Nintendo is maintaining its efforts with continual live coverage. As in past years it's also planning additional reveals of previously unannounced projects, with a new 3DS title due today. Whereas closed door press meetings have been the norm in the past, however, this year it seems Nintendo is keen to target gamers at home; the pitch has been that it's bringing E3 to everyone.

To start with the Nintendo Digital Event, in some respects it was only different to a Direct broadcast in style and branding, though the principle remained the same. It wasn't an 'event' in the sense that it was anything other than a video presentation, as there were no interactive aspects such as Twitter hashtag voting to determine content, for example. That said, the brand change made sense as it was a very Western broadcast in tone; gone was the 'Direct' gesture and formal tone seen in some of those broadcasts, and in their place were humorous animations from Robot Chicken and that fight scene between Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata. It was typical Nintendo, or at least standard of Nintendo once it loosens up.

It was a slick presentation, in any case, with the pre-recorded nature allowing for plenty of post-production and polish, which was a veneer inevitably lost with the switch to live broadcasting immediately after the event. There were some fairly embarrassing early hiccups, with pre-prepared videos not loading, dead time and some peculiar camera angles. It wasn't disastrous, though it'd hardly be described as smooth.

To Nintendo's credit, and the team running that Treehouse open studio, in general the broadcast has been relatively well organised for a live event. As a team we've been a little divided over the approach of zooming out and showing the workings of the broadcast between segments, showing the camera operators and technicians rushing around between sets. The flipside is that Nintendo is being good to its word in helping us get a sense of the 'E3 experience', as these shots give a solid perspective of the layout and size of the booth.

Wherever you stand on the style of the Treehouse broadcast, its very existence can surely be argued as nothing less than a success. It is, after all, the vast majority that follow E3 from home, and it's given terrific insight and footage into titles far beyond what the standard trailers can offer. On top of that, at the time of writing, there have been guest appearances from Shigeru Miyamoto to show off his GamePad projects, Eiji Aonuma for the Hyrule Warriors demo and an appearance from Reggie Fils-Aime. There have been many others too, mainly developers from the games in question, including some of the spotlight being reserved for indies.

As for the Super Smash Bros. Invitational, that was also an impressive event. Despite some empty seats in the arena and some typical live-show slip-ups, it was a terrific opportunity to see a variety of stages and challengers in action. It was a lengthy event, but the enthusiasm of the crowd was infectious, while seeing the Mega Man Final Smash, for example, was hugely exciting. There was the perfect finale, too, with an intense battle over the championship.

When you combine this rolling, always-on approach to broadcasting E3 with the diverse range of content, we'd suggest that Nintendo has found a near-perfect method for presenting itself in the best light. Microsoft and Sony, for example, are widely acknowledged to have delivered solid presentations, yet it's been the usual all-in-one effort of the live conference, in addition to the fact that a number of reveals were titles for 2015 and, in many cases, shown in the form of cutscenes. That's exciting in its way, but in comparison to that approach and mature genres such as shooters and driving titles, Nintendo's offerings are full of colour and, it must be said, offer notable diversity in gameplay.

The Wii U, in particular, has been the focus, with the GamePad getting a major push. Regardless of whether you agree that the system's controller has been given a stronger case at E3, the range of experiences on offer is certainly promising. We have creativity in Mario Maker, a fun twist of online shooter action in Splatoon, a breathlessly expansive RPG in Xenoblade Chronicles X, platforming, puzzles, fighting and more. Nintendo's point, eloquently made in a surprisingly impassioned speech by Fils-Aime in the Digital Event, is that the company is focused on fun above all else.

What its E3 approach has succeeded in doing is sharing that fun. The company's not following the template demanded by rivals and — it should be said — aspects of the press, and is putting players first. This E3 has been shared in a way like no other.

Based on the reaction to titles like Splatoon and some positive buzz from gamers and media alike, it seems Nintendo has won over many with its approach. Bucking the trend has been brave, so perhaps fortune will follow.

From the web

User Comments (67)



Knuckles said:

This is very enjoyable to watch, can't wait to watch tomorrows Treehouse as well.



smikey said:

I much prefer the way Nintendo have done e3 this year I've never been that bothered about the conference's of the past it's all about the games and videos anyway.

I wouldn't be surprised to see sony & microsoft follow suit in a couple of years

Didn't watch much of the tree house for various reasons yesterday had it on the tv for 3 hours today and enjoyed most of it Yoshi in wool form is finally the game that has made the wife to be so desperate to play video games! (though she's done a fair few hours on Nintendo land to be fair)



Emblem said:

"As a team we've been a little divided over the approach of zooming out and showing the workings of the broadcast between segments, showing the camera operators and technicians rushing around between sets. "

I actually love this as i know if this was any other company the 60-90sec breaks would be filled with non relevant adverts and i HATE adverts.



JumpnShootMan said:

I thought the presentation was great, and the Treehouse demos gave such a better in-depth look at the titles instead of leaving us with teasers. If anybody felt like the decision to go without a press conference was a mistake last year, I think Nintendo proved this year that their approach was right in concept (if not in execution). They nailed it this year from content to presentation.



she_gamer said:

If it had just been the Digital Event, I would have been mildly disappointed. The follow up with live Treehouse is genius. Games that didn't hook me in their reveal in the Digital Event certainly made a fantastic second impression in the Treehouse Demos. I really hope Nintendo sticks with this format for future E3s.



sinalefa said:

Well, besides the eagerness to see Nintendo's games, there is a reason why I watched their conference and just read recaps of the other conferences.

I hate Sony's and Microsoft's conference approach, all seriousness, and very predictable. Thanks Nintendo for reminding us of the wild, colorful and funny side of gaming.



MagicBox said:

I can't say enough kind things about the Digital Event. It wasn't even the games (which were great); the presentation was what won me over.

This format is so much better than doing a press conference. No dry, awkward moments or hiccups in pacing. I get that some people love the press conferences because "anything can happen while it's live," but I just... don't like seeing things get messed up. It's awkward, it's not entertaining, and it stops the flow of information. What Nintendo did was pretty much everything I was hoping for. Following it up with the in-depth Treehouse streams was perfect; you've got constant coverage while not messing up the pacing and momentum of your main event.

The Digital Event was entertaining, funny, very informative, perfectly paced, and most importantly, it was SELF-AWARE. I hate it when company reps come onstage and it feels like they're talking in their own little bubble, completely unaware of the outside world (which was kinda the vibe I got from Sony's conference). The little Robot Chicken sketches gave them a perfect opportunity to address their most common criticisms ("Oh, great, another Mario game! What about Star Fox?!") while poking fun at those fans who are just never happy. How is it that the only conference not in front of a live audience managed to be the one that seemed to best understand its fanbase?

I think, even if you don't like Nintendo's franchises, one should still praise them for their presentation and focus. They came in, showed nothing but games, paced it perfectly, and got out. Never a dry moment, no boring statistics, no fluff. Just all business. I can't say that about any other press conference this year. I'd love it if the rest of the industry followed suit.



Nik-Davies said:

I can't lie. I REALLY loved the Robot Chicken moments. It was good to see that Nintendo could make fun of themselves. "Oh great, another MARIO game" XD
I do have a complaint about the Zelda reveal though. I wish they showed the gameplay first, just unexpectedly and then had the interview.



mostro328 said:

it was awesome I watched sony and microsofts events and I found myself really bored and I am happy Nintendo chose this direction to go in

game they Im very excited for every game they showed, its too bad 3rd party were no where around, but only Nintendo can bring it like they did with only 1sr party titles



Nik-Davies said:

Oh and Nintendo, blood will be spilt if you don't release a collector's edition of Yoshi's Woolly World with that Yarn Yoshi toy. He was adorable



jariw said:

The Treehouse Live is fantastic!!! Games get announced in one way or another anyway, but to actually see long gameplay sessions while the developers discusses the games is absolutely brilliant.



k8sMum said:

i still miss the old days when E3 was open to the public. coverage was fun to watch then. now i hear so many talking but not saying much. it's better, but i loved the 'now' moments when it all felt more real.



Yorumi said:

What I'm liking about the treehouse stream is it's decently unscripted. They're just kind of playing games and talking about them as well as adapting the show to responses on the internet. Obviously there's some plan but it has a fairly natural feel to it. And they're not trying to hide things, the zoom out is cool between sets, smash froze today on them and they didn't miss a beat. Pretty much just "oh well we broke it, it's pre-release software" and kept right on talking about the game.

Need to do the live stream every year and more tournaments, not just smash but mario kart, pokemon, anything that has a competitive scene should have a tournament. The energy in that room while the smash tournament was going on was palpable.



MajinSoul said:

I think the combination of the Direct and the Treehouse is what makes this E3 so special to me. It's amazing to see developers showing off their games live which have been previously shown off in the Direct. I hope they keep on doing it for the future E3s. I'm actually glad that they focused on WiiU. It's nice to see that Nintendo still believes in the WiiU unlike Sony who pretty much pretended the Vita to not even exist.



Mahe said:

Yeah, I certainly felt like I had to breathe some fresh air when watching Nintendo's showings. So exclusionary and conceited.



Sir_JBizzle said:

@MagicBox kudos! You said just about everything I was thinking and said it better than I may have had! I 100% agree!

Hopefully next year (or even in years to come) as they get comfortable with this format that they open things up to the wider viewing audience by what the article briefly touched on: polls, live tweeting, taking select questions from viewers at home ect... I think Nintendo is on to something big here and it can only get better!



Sir_JBizzle said:

@Blast right! I've watched it live before, but only passively... This is the first time ever I was glued to coverage and not wait to read recaps!



Sakura said:

Do wish they would release some EU special miis though! Other regions have loads more. That would have capped off my E3 nicely. As it is I'm disappointed even though there's a lot of great stuff to come.



Hotfusion said:

Reggie vs annoying guy in audiece then Iwata v Reggie on SSB set the perfect beat for the presentation.



Spanjard said:

I really enjoyed the presentation. That intro with Iwata and reggie was awesome!



Action51 said:

Despite the best efforts of the usual naysayers, it's really hard to say Nintendo's E3 presence this year was short of remarkable and generally well executed.

It's like Nintendo decided to throw caution to the wind, roll up their sleeves, and toss off their (red DK) ties. Barring the occasional awkward moment, the whole thing felt friendly, casual, and welcoming.

I only wish I didn't have to work and could have caught a little more of the treehouse stuff. For all those who doubted or misrepresented Nintendo going in, I think they more then exceeded expectations.



MrGawain said:

I think it's obvious why Nintendo do a pre recorded show: they are a Japanese company staffed by Japanese people who speak Japanese. Traipsing them out on a Californian stage to recite a pigeon English speech or to be slowly translated to death is a great disservice to their passion and intellect. By subtitling them, you could get a more natural feel from the developers. Also I found that Microsoft and Sony's events were homogenised into a 'mainstream American primetime advert cool', which really didn't do any favours in making game from game any different to each other (which they weren't). Sony rarely embraces its Japanese heritage. Japanese culture is far more eclectic, with a lot of historic Japanese culture mixed with pop culture from the US and UK, With real life and cartoon merged, which gives a lot of different art styles. No 2 games looked alike- even the 2 Zelda games looked poles apart. This really benefitted from the mixture of game footage, real life people, robot chicken animation, and manga mix- it was like channel hopping on satellite where the visual style changed so you didn't get bored.



Action51 said:

@Mahe - I know that you are entitled to your opinion, but I have to suspect that you are just trolling and being contrarian here.

Exclusionary? - come on now! What did you expect? Did you expect them to hand over the events to random passersby or competitors? Do you think they should have let Sony or Ubisoft representives run their events?

The "'conceited" thing you noticed is probably your misguided anger assigning them self importance to rationalize your feelings when seeing them succeed when you desired failure. What can I say?

Did you even think your statements through?



Nik-Davies said:

Off topic and I'm not sure if this was said at the Invitational or the Treehouse or whatever, but I was looking on the Smash Bros website and it said you customize headgear and outfits on the Mii characters, so giving the costumes and stuff. Pretty cool..... If you guys already knew, I don't care, because I just found out and I thought it was cool.



Noonch said:

I watched 3 hours or so today. It's something to do. I was convinced yesterday that Bill Trinen is either a big jerk or a robot. He looks evil. I'm still looking forward to Shovelknight even though $14.99 seems a little steep. I feel like it was a disappointment with no Metroid/FZero and Star Fox at LEAST a year away. I'm not into Smash or Zelda so it looks like I'll have to wait till next year.



kyuubikid213 said:

I've not watched any Treehouse, but the Digital Event was GREAT. That's definitely a thousand times better than any E3 press conference I've ever seen.

I got goosebumps with the Reggie and Iwata fight. At the same time I was laughing. I still think it's pretty great that they had Robot Chicken animation in there. Not so kiddy now, eh?



JaxonH said:

This year was a Nintendo BLOWOUT.

Loved the presentation format- I hope this is the new standard every year going forward. Quick and concise- the pace was incredible!

I watched both Microsoft and Sony's presentations, and while much was exciting and some goodies are definitely on the way, they couldn't touch Nintendo with their long, drawn out formats. I got pretty bored during both their presentations, but during the Digital Event I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole time, occasionally jumping for joy and screaming like a giddy schoolgirl lol...

This E3 was shaping up to be a pretty big disappointment games-wise, then Nintendo stepped up to bat and gave the best E3 presentation I think I've ever seen. They just nailed it in every regard.



Mahe said:

@Action51 It's my honest opinion. While some fans are quick to praise whatever Nintendo does, their E3 showing was very troublesome, and does not bode well for the future of the Wii U.



Gerbwmu said:

Really loved the treehouse follow up and extras. Really gave depth to a lot of what was shown. Hope they use this concept going forward because the main presentation can only show so much. Kudos to Nintendo for allowing everyone a chance to experience their portion of E3. I think you will see Sony and Microsoft using this approach next year.



creative92 said:

This is way better than the traditional conference. The regular conferences are just too overly scripted and are more of a cheesy sales pitch now from some guys at the top of the podiums telling us to buy their games.

This Treehouse approach is great, actually giving players a glimpse into the game content and letting us become more engaged.

But E3 still sucks for 1) Not letting the public attend anymore, and 2) Every game mentioned is delayed...(until the next E3...and even then add another few seaons). Don't show me something that is still 1-2 years away from release. If E3 is during early summer, the latest releases we should see are for content from now until the "winter" holiday release.



R_Champ said:


I totally agree. The Treehouse follow-up was a great idea to the amusing and polished, yet limited, digital event. Games like Xenoblade Chronicles X only had a mediocre trailer, but the the Treehouse segment on the game was amazing! And I wouldn't be surprised to see Sony and Microsoft follow suit in the coming E3. Let's just hope it isn't as poor a copy as PS Move



cheleuitte said:

Thanks nintendo, for the first time you bring the e3 to me, I felt like I was there!!



siavm said:

Nintendo definitely did it right this year. Someone on a message board or forum said it kind of the best to me. "A desperate nintendo is a great nintendo for e3" or something like that. When they were winning there press conferences were not the best. But when their backs are against the walls we get new ip, old favorites, and awesome e3 moments.

That smash event was awesome. I just hope like with Sony last year this is the thing that brings good fortune to them this year.
And I loved the robot chicken in the event. I know not to ask Reggie about mother 3.



SKTTR said:

Fantastic E3. Best presentation Nintendo ever did.
The Wii U lineup is incredible. And it's not even over yet.



billychaos said:

I really love the treehouse live feeds. I've been watching/listening to it non stop since it went live. I love it! I hope Nintendo continues to do such things. Up till now e3 seems like it was more for journalist. I love how Nintendo brought it straight to the consumers...finally!!!!



BoobooMama said:

AND they still have a new IP to announce! Nintendo didn't just dominate E3, they invaded.



Aqueous said:

I'm loving the style of this, its a great idea and I'm happy to see it, hopefully it'll be done again.



Blue_Guy said:

@she_gamer I totally agree with you. The digital event was ok. But if it wasn't for all the gameplay we saw after, i would've been disppointed. I got interested on the Captain Toad game, Splatoon, the new Yoshi game, and the new Kirby game. They talked about so many good stuff about those games that they actually got me interested.



aaronsullivan said:

Yep, not sure how much work I'm going to get done tomorrow being home with the Treehouse feed going continuously. I did notice that highlights are showing up on YouTube and there is a spot on Nintendo's main E3 page for highlights. I was worried they weren't going to post them after.

I was realizing today how much actual non-scripted gameplay of unreleased Nintendo games I've now seen. Having followed Nintendo since the first days of NES it's sort of mind blowing.

I'm also noticing the continual pushing of non-Miyamoto developers to the forefront. Some of these guys were unsung heroes for years. It's great to get to know them more. I'm already looking forward to whatever the Splatoon team does next!



Trikeboy said:

I was already interested in getting Hyrule Warriors based on footage from Nintendo Direct and the Digital Event however the Treehouse presentation made it jump right to the top of my Must Buy list. Nintendo may have single handedly changed E3. Remember the year it was cancelled because it had gotten stale? Nintendo, as usual, has shown how it can and should be done. The bland, dark and samey titles shown over at Sony and Microsoft just cannot compare to what Nintendo brought to E3 this year.



Trikeboy said:

They do need to upload all the segments though. Living in Asia, I'm asleep while most of Treehouse is running.



Plutonian said:

Today was the first chance I had to watch the big event, and I got to enjoy several hours of tree house as well. I loved it. The treehouse is a great addition that makes it much better than last year's E3. Hopefully I'll be able to watch a little at work tomorrow.



oatmeal-warrior said:

As a primary PS user, I realy enjoyed nintendo's E3 showings this year. I love my 3DS and can't wait for smash.



Shambo said:

They made me laugh a lot with self referential Robot Chicken stuff, put me on the edge of my sofa laughing and rooting for -well- both Reggie AND Iwata, showed off breath-taking images of games I'm REALLY excited for, gave new reasons to look forward to the future of Nintendo, brought some unexpected (Devil's) Third party stuff like Bayonetta 1,... and made a grown man with a low bass voice squeek like a dog toy, a non-believer say 'oh my god' in disbelief of the beautiful -albeit very short- preview of Zelda U. And still teased some more. Brilliant. They won a couple of E3's all at once!



Farmboy74 said:

This year Ninentdo have done E3 really well. The Direct broadcast was genius with the comedy moments and I'm loving the treehouse format as well. But the important thing here is they have turned up with games and it's looking like my Wii U is going to be busier than my PS4, wasn't expecting that a few days ago



Klunk23 said:

This years E3 is fantastic on Nintendo's part. The Digital Event contained a nice amount of info, and the whole presentation of it was great. And thanks to The Nintendo Treehouse new info and gameplay footage is constantly coming in. And the Smash Tournament really showed the game off great, while at the same time being as fun as ever to watch.



Specters said:

I absolutely loved the Direct and the live Treehouse has been incredible. Had it on for 4 hours or so today and a couple yesterday. Got to see Yoshi, Smash, Kirby, Zelda, SPLATOON!, and all the great indie titles--Affordable Space Adventures looked ultra fun and I had no idea what it was till the Treehouse event. I think they nailed it on the head this year by learning from last year's E3. The Direct + Live Treehouse is a winning combo.



LoveSugoi said:

With this E3 Nintendo showed while they can be stubbornly traditionally and old school with certain things, they're remarkably progressive in others. E3 has gotten dull since they closed it from the public and the conference format along with it. The Digital Event + Treehouse format is very digestible for me, got the big reveals with the finesse then was able to just pop into the stream throughout the day to get all the footage/additional info then post my reactions on Tumblr (or NL). I think it's a perfect combination for the social media era. I wouldn't be surprised if Sony and Microsoft eventually followed through with similar formats.



NintyMan said:

I think this E3 is the grand culmination of Nintendo's first attempt at an integrated online approach from last year. They apparently learned from their mistakes from that year's expo and now greatly expanded on it and improved it in every way. The Digital Event was far more entertaining then the dry E3 Direct from last year. The Treehouse demos are a huge step up from the simple Developer Directs that were just uploaded to Youtube while these Treehouse demos are streamed throughout most of the day with segments uploaded to Youtube after their appearance in the stream. If you have at least decent internet, this E3 for Nintendo is incredibly simple and integrated to navigate and learn from like never before.



andreoni79 said:

Great job, Nintendo! I planned to buy a PS4 in 2015, but it seems I won't need it at all! Now I hope they create for next Christmas a WiiU Classics collection, with games like Lego City, Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3 for €25/30, filling the gaps between Hyrule Warriors and 2015 for newcomers.



MegaWatts said:

I think the biggest success of the Smash Bros. Invitational was that it gave us viewers a very natural overview of the game that wasn't determined as it usually is by pre-approved footage and stylised shots.

Not to mention that the Grand Final was a spectacularly close match featuring highly skilled players who had already worked out some key elements of the gameplay mechanics. A refreshing insight, even if we probably all knew what the game was going to be like.



Kirk said:

I enjoyed the first 30 minutes of Nintendo's "Digital Event" immensely. Beyond that I've not been convinced quite as much.

I'm not too bothered with the whole Treehouse Live and Smash Invitational things but I have no issue whatsoever with them existing for those people who are interested to follow them. They just seem like a little bit too much extra work to get all the information that basically could have been covered or at least touched on in that one "Digital Event", like all the other companies basically did, imo. If I want to see/know more, then as long as it's all basically covered in the main event, I can choose to do so at my own leisure and pace by visiting whatever sites I personally choose to visit etc.

I just wish the "Digital Event" went on for about another 30 mins, had about five or six additional big titles shown and ended on a game other than Splatoon (ignoring the final Smash Bros footage to play things out and that mostly worthless bit with Miyamoto at the end).



Luffymcduck said:

This was a great E3 for Nintendo. It was all about games and Robot Chicken, gotta love that.



geozeldadude said:

treehouse live has been awesome, although the presenters tend to be a bit bland. disappointed they didn't have more news on things we're all waiting for (like SMT x FE) or concrete dates for things coming out this year.



element187 said:

@sinalefa The live press conferences of Sony and Microsoft is strictly for the press and gaming media.

The media sees themselves as the purveyors of information in the gaming world. In their world everything must be delivered to them and they will tell the fans.

Nintendo bucks that trend and goes directly to their fans. And the media hates it... hence all of the nasty articles towards Nintendo we have seeing the past 24+ months. I think Nintendo has the right approach, regardless to how intense the spoiled temper tantrum of the games media is.



Action51 said:

@element187 - It makes sense too.

The gaming media is largely hostile, cynical, and lazy when covering Nintendo...they have a tendency to treat Nintendo like a non contender, then ask why Nintendo isn't acting like a contender in nearly the same breath...

Good on Nintendo. They have successfully taken their message to the gamers without burning any bridges that the gaming media wasn't already torching by themselves.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...