Customer confusion and a slow 1st-party release has slowed Wii U sales. Plus, Nintendo won't have an E3 press conference.
Should Nintendo feel intimidated right about now? Back in February, Sony made its initial hardware reveal of the PlayStation 4, showcasing the new controller and a number of games. Microsoft plans to do something similar next month with the next Xbox. Once E3 2013 launches in June, both players will finish what they started during their press conferences and likely focus on first and third-party software and services.
Nintendo, on the other hand, has already revealed its next-generation hardware – all it has now is new software to promote. That said, Nintendo doesn't plan to have a press conference this year, but instead will launch a number of smaller events that are specifically focused on the company's software lineup for the U.S. market.
"We decided not to host a large-scale presentation targeted at everyone in the international audience where we announce new information as we did in the past," said Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata. "[Instead] there will be one closed event for American distributors, and we will hold another closed hands-on experience event, for mainly the Western gaming media."
Iwata said that during E3 Nintendo will focus mainly on Wii U titles that will be launched this year and early next year. For the Japanese market, the company will use Nintendo Direct to deliver E3 2013 information regarding to software that will launch in Japan. The company will do something similar for territories outside Japan as well.
Earlier this week, Iwata admitted that Nintendo needed to spend more time in recreating the momentum the console saw during the holiday season. He partially blamed customer confusion for the current lack of sales, saying that many believe the Wii U is merely just a Wii with an additional tablet-like device. However he claimed responsibility, saying that Nintendo did not try hard enough to show customers that it's an entirely new, next-generation product.
Of course, the Wii U name probably only adds to the customer confusion… just saying.
"Wii U might still have no such captivating game title as Wii Sports for Wii, with which people immediately comprehended its product value, but it surely has a lot of factors appreciated by users," he said. "We would like to take time to work thoroughly for its penetration, by making various efforts to have many people understand its product value as well as enriching the software lineup."
The Wii U's lineup is also to blame. He admitted that the release intervals of first-party key titles have been longer than anticipated. But that is scheduled to change starting with Pikmin 3 which is slated for a July release.
"We will intensively launch our key titles to give sales momentum to the platform," he said. "As a decisive factor in buying a console is that you cannot play a much-anticipated title without the hardware, we will do our best to have you feel from this summer to the end of this year that there are plenty of great games for Wii U."
So that is Nintendo's E3 story for 2013: head into the convention armed at the teeth with top-notch, previously unannounced software. Will it be enough to pull eager gamers away from Microsoft and Sony's new hardware and software lineup? We'll find out in less than two months.