Nintendo plans a low-key E3 for 2013 and beyond

This year’s E3 expo is gearing up to be a major battle between Microsoft and Sony as the two companies share more details about their next-generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles. With nothing quite so exciting to announce as its rivals, Nintendo has opted out of convening a major press conference at the June gaming show.

Nintendo at E3

“We decided not to host a large-scale presentation [at E3] targeted at everyone in the international audience,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said during a financial results briefing Thursday. “At the E3 show this year, we are planning to host a few smaller events that are specifically focused on our software lineup for the U.S. market.”

That will also be the case beyond this year’s E3, as Iwata says Nintendo will go its own route for future product announcements. Instead of relying on E3, the company will host its own events and broadcast them online using the company’s Nintendo Direct series of Web broadcasts.

Part of the reasoning behind Nintendo giving up on major product releases at E3 is that it allows the company to more precisely target future announcements at different audiences such as gamers, or investors and market analysts. “We feel that we will be able to deliver our messages more appropriately and effectively by doing so individually based on the various needs of different groups of people,” Iwata said.

Giving up on a major E3 reveal also means Nintendo doesn’t have to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft and Sony, whose gaming platforms target a different demographic than the Wii lineup. It also lets Nintendo choose its own schedule for product releases instead of having to come up with an awe-filled presentation year in and year out. Nintendo’s E3 2012 presentation—in which it detailed the Wii U—was largely considered to be a flop, with Microsoft winning most of the E3 hype thanks to its Xbox SmartGlass demo and a Halo 4 preview.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo may not be planning a big show for E3, but the company says it will still have plenty of game announcements during the show, including its lineup for the rest of 2013 and into early 2014. In that sense, E3 can’t come a moment too soon for the company. In recent months, Nintendo has struggled to win over gaming fans with its Wii U console, which went on sale in late 2012. The company recently announced it had sold just 3.45 million consoles worldwide, falling short of its short-term goal announced in January to sell 4 million consoles. Iwata has blamed the lackluster results on a lack of great titles for the Wii U. The expected Wii U games from Nintendo include a 3D Mario game, a new version of Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.

Nintendo’s decision to forego an E3 press conference is just the latest decision from a major player in the technology industry to go its own way. Apple famously split from Macworld Expo after the 2009 show to host product announcements on its own terms. Sony announced the PlayStation 3 at E3 in 2005, but hosted its own event to announce the PlayStation 4 in March. After more than a decade of keynote presentations at CES, Microsoft decided not to give a keynote at the 2013 installment; it didn’t even have a booth at CES 2013. Instead, Microsoft hosted its own events in 2012 for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Despite its CES no-show, Microsoft is still using E3 2013 as a chance to detail its next-generation console. Similar to how it introduced the Xbox 360 in 2005, Microsoft will hold a separate event on its own and follow-up several weeks later with more details during E3.

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