While Microsoft and Sony duked it out at E3 2013 for coverage of the Xbox One and PS4, respectively, Nintendo was much more reserved this year, canceling its normal press conference at the Nokia Theater and instead holding a much more intimate event inside its E3 booth. Nintendo’s event began with a brief presentation, then gave those in attendance a chance to get hands-on with Wii U and 3DS games before the show floor actually opened. In an interview during the show, however, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata shed light on one of the reasons his company may have been so much quieter than in years past: he admitted Nintendo made some mistakes when introducing the Wii U.
When Nintnedo introduced the original Wii, it took the unprecedented step of announcing its name and some key functionality weeks before E3. Its logic at the time was to let immature gamers get all the “wii” name jokes out of the way so Nintendo could showcase the actual gameplay on the show floor. That E3 went on to see Nintendo absolutely own the event, and the Wii came out of the gates as the generation leader. (Things have since changed a bit — read the first entry in our PS4 vs. Xbox One series.)
This year, with the Wii U already on store shelves, Nintendo could’ve said it was being quieter simply to let “the other guys” battle it out for publicity. But in an E3 interview with CNN, Iwata-san acknowledged some missteps during the Wii U launch that may have contributed to the company being a little gun-shy when it came to PR and promotions at the annual trade show.
Iwata admitted the company made missteps with the introduction of the Wii U. But he remains convinced a strong lineup of upcoming Wii U software will get gamers excited about the living-room console. … “But the fact of the matter is Wii U has yet to prove what is so unique (about it),” [Iwata-san said], “unlike how … with a first glance, people were able to understand how different Wii was.”
One source agrees there were missteps with the Wii U, but it may not have been simply a matter of functionality. According to Max Parker, video game columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he says Nintendo’s mistakes early in the Wii U’s lifecycle may harm the chances of the console’s sales recovery.
“Nintendo did a poor job in marketing the Wii U. Sharing part of its name with its predecessor was a misstep,” Parker explained. “The public was unsure if the Wii U was a new console or a peripheral of the Wii. Nintendo didn’t make it clear in their marketing that the Wii U was their new home console to replace the Wii.”
Either way, Nintendo and Iwata-san are laughing all the way to the bank now that the 3DS is selling well. In spite of that handheld’s depressingly slow beginning, the system’s now selling quite well and expected to continue doing so through the end of the year. During the week of E3 people have been snapping up their PS4 pre-order and/or Xbox One pre-order, but over time perhaps the Wii U will follow a similar trajectory, even if Nintendo did make some mistakes launching its new console.