The silly season of rumours has been underway for a while now with the Nintendo NX, and some have recently focused on how the system will be revealed. It's a welcome change of pace from figuring out what the system is, admittedly, and it's raised an interesting question - how should Nintendo unveil the NX?
Prompting this train of thought are loose rumours that have circulated around supposed leaks regarding Nintendo's plans to unveil it. In truth we've not been confident enough in the sources in question to report them ourselves, and some of the rumoured approaches don't seem feasible. Some chatter has been around an imminent and sudden unveiling with no real build-up, catching everyone off guard; it's possible, sure, but seems like a longshot.
Well, let's consider some key ideas for how Nintendo could unveil NX, assuming the target is to do so later this month or in early October.
A Major Press Event / Conference, Streamed Online
This is the conventional way to do things. Console manufacturers (Nintendo and its rivals) have often - depending on timing - used both E3 and then a separate event to unveil different aspects of systems. Nintendo doesn't have that luxury this time having avoided the topic at E3, but the format of a live press event / conference is well known to long-term gaming enthusiasts.
Typically a handsome host city is chosen, perhaps somewhere like New York or Los Angeles, and mainstream press big-hitters like TIME magazine et al are invited along with some fans to do plenty of cheering. Also streamed online for fans, it takes the form of a presentation with flashy videos, sizzle reels, devs on stage saying how amazing the system is, and executives (such as Reggie Fils-Aime and Shigeru Miyamoto, perhaps) declaring it to be the future of gaming. The venue can be a stylish medium-sized location, or alternatively the big N could go big with a sizeable theatre; big screen demonstrations and a whooping crowd would add to the positive vibes for those watching online.
It would seem sensible for a major reveal event like this to be in the US, in order to have the greatest impact online and with global media.
Pros: A key part of this approach is getting press coverage from the broader media. Assuming Nintendo wants NX to be a major success with a wide audience, it'll need as many non-gaming publications and viewers producing coverage / tweets as possible. The online stream naturally has the benefit of getting fans at home excited, as events like this generate a huge amount of interest on social media. The bigger the event and the more hype applied, the better.
Cons: These events can be drier than the Saharan desert when handled poorly, and Nintendo is well out of practice having ditched live press conferences at E3 over the last few years. The script and reveals are everything in this format, along with slick production and a confident overall level of presentation. To see how it's not done, remember Microsoft's obsession with TV apps and content in its big Xbox One pre-launch event, annoying a lot of watching gamers in the process. Sony, for its part, goes on far too long on some occasions, so nailing the flow of these events is certainly a challenge.
A Nintendo NX Direct
Among dedicated Nintendo fans there are few occasions as hype-building as a Direct broadcast. Typically (but not always) announced just a few days before broadcast, they offer anything from 20-40 minutes of reveals and excitement. There is little doubt that dedicated fans would be fully engaged and enthused by an NX Direct.
The Direct format, naturally, allows for a fully scripted and professional presentation. Though streamed live online, Nintendo would have little pressure when it's broadcast, simply lining up its accompanying trailers and press releases to follow shortly after it's aired. This option also allows regional variations in Japan, Europe and North American to run concurrently with no issues.
Pros: Keen Nintendo fans would be all over this, naturally, and it can be argued that the mainstream press would follow and report on the reveal regardless; after all, a new system from Nintendo is big news in the entertainment industry. The Direct format would ensure a highly polished presentation, and a strong chance of delivering the right messaging and pitch to viewers.
Cons: There could be the perception that it'd be a 'small time' reveal, if the press event / conference 'game' isn't played for the mainstream press and less dedicated followers of the company. Though a Direct is arguably more efficient and slick than the first option above, it arguably wouldn't carry the same perception as a grand occasion.
Go Viral With a Sudden Reveal
Marketing has changed a lot in recent times, and the exposure and power of essentially going 'viral' is intoxicating for any corporation managing big brands. The explosion of Pokémon GO is testament to this, with a fairly modest pre-launch marketing campaign becoming almost irrelevant once the app had started trending and spreading like wildfire on the internet.
It wouldn't be the first time Nintendo dropped a system reveal in unexpectedly, as the New Nintendo 3DS initially appeared out of nowhere as part of what we thought would be a game-focused Japanese Nintendo Direct. For some, the view is that Nintendo should simply release a range of enticing co-ordinated posts and trailers on social media (plugging hashtags, of course) and let the online world create the story.
Pros: If the approach works the benefits can be incredible, with the web abuzz with chatter and word of mouth boosting awareness to an extraordinary degree. It would be the easy logistical option for Nintendo too, simply preparing the announcement posts and dropping them online.
Cons: There are quite a few negatives. Going viral is not a science, for one thing; it's unpredictable, and is an extraordinarily risky strategy. It also means little control over the message; that alone makes it an extremely long shot as Nintendo would be unlikely to welcome those sorts of risks. There are good reasons why systems aren't announced with sudden and unexpected social media posts.
Ignore All That and Just Send Out a Press Release
We won't even bother breaking this one down as it's such a bad idea, but it's not completely inconceivable. We'll never forget when Nintendo casually sent out a press release with a few images and a trailer for the Nintendo 2DS. It was a case of "hey, listen, new console variation, share with your readers if you feel like it..." This is like the viral option but without the neo-marketing savvy.
Not the way to reveal NX, so let's assume it won't happen. Surely not...
Putting personal taste aside, this writer hopes to see the first option. Much of the modern consumer world is all about perception, and the image of being at the cutting edge of the news and social media cycle. Nintendo would benefit from making a splash with NX, and a major live conference would give the concept and system the best possible chance of reaching a lot of people. Nintendo needs to keep dedicated fans on board, naturally, but as the Wii U has demonstrated the enthusiast crowd isn't big enough on its own - the broader gaming public needs to hear about and be excited by the NX.
Which approach would you like to see for the big NX reveal? Let us know in the poll and comments.
Here's hoping that the method of the unveiling won't be a mystery for much longer.