E3 is starting to pick up momentum with Microsoft, EA and Bethesda among the big names to have made their pitch so far. Like every other year the reactions have been mixed - there have been some positive reveals and there have also been cringe-worthy moments. So far we've only seen a couple of glimpses of Nintendo content, too, though that's likely to change when Ubisoft has its show and, of course, Nintendo kicks off its full three days of coverage.
- Nintendo Spotlight, Treehouse and Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational - starting 13th June at 9am Pacific / noon Eastern / 5pm UK / 6pm CEST
- Nintendo Treehouse, Pokken Tournament DX Invitational and ARMS Open Invitational - 14th June starting at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern / 6pm UK / 7pm CEST
- Nintendo Treehouse - 15th June starting at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern / 6pm UK / 7pm CEST
The Nintendo Spotlight is going to be about 25 minutes, and the Treehouse broadcasts will also contain some reveals and details (especially in the first hour, apparently). It'll be interesting to see how it all takes shape with such a short runtime for the Spotlight show, but there's plenty to look forward to.
We'll do our usual 'what we expect' article ahead of the Spotlight broadcast kicking off Nintendo's E3 (with predictions on games, announcements and so on), but having seen a few press conferences already we thought we'd put together five key areas around presentation that, if done well, could help Nintendo have a strong E3.
Be Concise and Confident
To be fair to Nintendo, this is an area where it's been a show leader for a few years. While some companies continue to be parodies of themselves with clunky, over-long events, Nintendo pre-records its main showcase every year so it can be effective and slick.
At just 25 minutes we certainly don't need to worry about the company being concise with its Spotlight, so the question is about confidence. Nintendo is on a positive run at the moment with strong sales and publicity for the Switch, so it has an opportunity to take that momentum forward. It'll certainly push Super Mario Odyssey as the must-have game for the Holiday season, and needs to find a good balance in its broader Spotlight show of humour and also assertive self-belief. Nintendo has IPs and a history some other companies would buy for billions of dollars, so it needs to use those assets.
Of course, beyond the spotlight we'll have hours and hours of the Nintendo Treehouse and Invitational events for Splatoon 2, ARMS and Pokkén Tournament DX. When it comes to the Treehouse it's a case of carrying on the usual format, and though there'll be inevitable hiccups in the live shows hopefully the presenters can stay bubbly and enthusiastic. Nintendo of America is now also experienced when it comes to filming and running small-scale competitive gaming events at expos, so needs to bring those skills to those multiple events.
Give 3DS Some Love, But Focus on Nintendo Switch
We certainly wouldn't suggest that the 3DS shouldn't get some attention in the Treehouse broadcasts. We're likely to see some Hey! Pikmin gameplay, and assuming the sign-off has been given by The Pokémon Company a high profile segment could be more footage of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. We're also likely to see a bit of the latest Kirby game for the portable.
Our hope, though, is that the Switch gets the bulk of the demonstrations from the Treehouse team, to supplement the Spotlight focus and those Invitational events. The 3DS doesn't need as much of a push as Switch, heading into its twilight and boosted this year by the natural attention that'll come with the New 2DS XL and those Pokémon titles. The Switch, while in a decent spot right now, still needs to maintain that positive momentum and earn some attention among the noise of Xbox One X and whatever Sony has up its sleeve for its event.
There should be plenty to demonstrate with the Switch, too. Super Mario Odyssey, of course, and we're hopeful of a showing and 'out now' moment for the first expansion to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Other games like Fire Emblem Warriors will surely get an airing, and perhaps Xenoblade Chronicles 2, while there will - of course - be surprises. It would also be a pleasing surprise if Nintendo does deals with some third-parties to show games. A good look at the likes of FIFA 18 or NBA 2K18, or perhaps a game like Sonic Forces, would add a little extra excitement.
Generate Buzz for the Switch Invitational Events
When Nintendo has hosted 'Invitational'-style events they've sometimes struggled to get fans' blood pumping. The Smash Bros. Invitational a while back was certainly a success, but this year Nintendo is hosting its events in the smaller booth setting (rather than a big theatre) and is doing three of them.
The challenge is giving Switch owners a reason to watch, beyond those of us that'll be watching every minute of the Treehouse streams regardless. A downside is that much has already been revealed around ARMS and to a degree Pokkén Tournament DX, with the former out at the end of this week and the latter already having some details confirmed for its Deluxe outing. The exception could be Splatoon 2; Nintendo's Tumblr page and social media accounts have been showing lots of new weapons, but there's scope to unveil a brand new multiplayer mode in the competition.
The Splatoon 2 contest, featuring champion teams from North America, Europe, Japan and Australia, should offer quality play, so that's the angle to push. With the other events Nintendo will no doubt try to leverage the social media followings of the various streamers / influencers that are taking part. Ultimately, Nintendo needs to find hooks that stop the Invitationals from being that bit of the Treehouse stream where we stretch our legs and get some fresh air.
Give the Treehouse Team Full Support
Some in this community can be rather critical of the Treehouse live streams, but this writer will continue to defend and vocally support their efforts. In putting the localisation team front and centre of Treehouse Live, Nintendo prioritises genuine knowledge and enthusiasm over hired presenters. Based on some truly shambolic guest 'presenters' that EA used this past weekend (one said "I'm a YouTube creator" over and over again while showing no actual presenting skills), we'd suggest that's a very good decision.
With 7-8 hours of live streaming every day there will be little technical hiccups, but Nintendo of America should give the Treehouse team the best chance of giving a good show. If you wonder what the heck we're talking about, we'd highlight how the shortened Treehouse presence of two days at E3 2016 was also typified by an evident lack of resources. In previous years there'd been a small army running those streams, but last year it was a smaller crew that was clearly a little stretched. In addition there'd been a bit of turnover with a few prominent Treehouse hosts leaving the company, and it meant that the team couldn't quite deliver to the standards of 2015 and before.
Treehouse has run a few streams since then, allowing some of the team to get more comfortable as hosts, and Nintendo of America has clearly opted to go 'all in' this year at the show. Hopefully that means the Treehouse group will be back to a larger compliment of hosts and technical staff. If so, then we're sure they'll provide plenty of informative game coverage in the coming week.
Win the Battle on Social Media
Every year we get emails and information from companies that analyse and report upon social media trends during E3, pinpointing which brands and games have generated the most interest online. Last year Nintendo did extremely well thanks to the impact of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, helping the company stay in the conversation despite the limited scope of its show.
This year there'll be plenty of competition. Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X and soon Sony will respond, and of course we have the usual big-hitters like EA, Bethesda and Ubisoft seeking headlines. Nintendo has a chance to compete, though, because for the first time in a couple of years it's carrying strong momentum - it has new Pokémon games coming to 3DS, and importantly a still-shiny Switch not long in stores. Early interest in the system has seen demand outstrip supply, but Nintendo needs to keep its foot on the pedal to maintain that enthusiasm for the system.
Word of mouth, then, will be key. Much of what we've outlined above will contribute to online buzz, traffic and trends. This scribe also wrote recently about some potential 'quick wins' as announcements that could be modest in effort for Nintendo but get fans and press talking about the Spotlight and follow-up streams. Reveals, a few surprises and heavy promotion from the various streamers and 'influencers' following the big N's E3 could all help in boosting the company's overall profile in E3. Generating buzz, after all, is the main goal of the LA event.
Those are some areas we think can be key to Nintendo's success or otherwise at E3. Ahead of the Spotlight on 13th June we'll share our expectations on reveals, before hosting and live blogging all of the live action as it occurs. So, are you optimistic about Nintendo's E3?