Nintendo And The Communication Barrier

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Posted September 2, 2016 by Spencer Birch in Video Games

Yesterday morning, Nintendo had a treat in store for us in the form of a brand new Nintendo Direct presentation! This one was 3DS focused and had a lot to offer. From the looks of things, the 3DS is around to stay—at least through 2017. Nintendo Direct presentations have been fairly commonplace since the end of 2011, coming around every three months or so to give us news, release dates, and previews of new games and products. The show generally features Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils- Aimé, and Senior Product Marketing Manager, Bill Trinen, in silly montages in between announcements and Nintendo news. The streams are informative, convenient, and in the very special Nintendo way, very fun. It seems very normal to us now to get most of our Nintendo news from these Directs every few months, but this was not always the case.

When Nintendo began speaking directly to fans via Nintendo Direct, the gaming industry was still joined at the hip with gaming media. If you wanted to hear about upcoming news from your favorite publisher, then you were going to need to go to a gaming outlet to get that. This is still very much how things are now, though the tide is shifting. In 2011, it was not unheard of for a developer or publisher to make their own presentations directly to fans, but outside of large conferences like E3 or TGS, it was mostly up to journalists or press releases to get us that info. Nintendo, for reasons only they know, decided it was time to skip past the middleman and speak directly to fans; not only at conventions a couple times a year, but every three months. In addition to this, Nintendo opened the vault in the form of Iwata Asks, a semi regular Q&A between the late Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata, and members of development teams within the company. These often gave us some much craved insight into the design process of games that we love, and were a real treat.

Since then Nintendo, along with many others, have been slowly backing away from the standard model of press conferences at conventions, opting for more personalized experiences (usually still scheduled around the big shows). Some are even creating their own conferences, such as Sony with the PlayStation Experience held annually in December. This of course leaves conferences like E3 hanging out to dry, but it will be some time before the traditional model of the press convention goes away completely.

Why is that?

Nintendo has found great success speaking directly to fans every few months, and even Sony has began taking part in this in the form of regular blog posts about upcoming products and news. Why, then, do so many companies, especially larger publishers, not adopt the once a quarter presentation directly to fans? This is a great way for companies to keep on top of news and leaks, and get consumers the most important information directly, in the exact manner they want. Nintendo Directs are incredibly fun and goofy, but in that special Nintendo way, they really work to enhance the brand and appeal to a huge group of people, including those who may not even own the current console. Presentations directly from the source are an excellent way to manage your brand, highlight the most important parts of your announcements, and get the news out to everyone.

There seems to be some odd barrier preventing publishers and developers from producing this sort of content, and people who know much more than I do about this are calling that shot. Sure, the semiannual conference that is chock full of announcements is a super fun way to go, but in between those shows is a long waiting game as news and leaks slowly trickle out from sites like this one. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to quell that and give your fans what they want to know directly? I don’t know for certain, though I think it would. Nintendo has always been a bit ahead of the game, and though many of their ideas aren’t fully realized, they often pave the road for things to come. From the radical design of the earliest Nintendo controllers to the second screen experience of the DS, each of these innovations had their own issues but ultimately sparked adoption and innovation from other companies in their own products. Could Nintendo’s communication directly with fans be the precursor to the end of press conferences and the start of a new way for publishers to communicate with us? It’s not a terribly important thing to consider right now, but for years Nintendo has slowly been moving the entire industry from traditions decades old into something new, and it may be interesting to keep an eye on things.

What do you think about Nintendo Directs? Do you wish publishers would adopt a model similar to that for their own announcements?


About the Author

Spencer Birch

I dislike long walks on the beach actually, sand gets everywhere and the sun makes it hard to see my screen. Follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/spencermbirch