It’s no longer becoming an enjoyable experience to view a Nintendo Direct or a Sony State of Play, even an XBOX Showcase. It’s a chore, and can be somewhat painful when each company can’t respectively deliver the goods. No, I was not expecting Mario Kart 9, or Breath of the Wild 2 today, and sure there were some great showings from the Big N that included Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and the return of critically acclaimed pack-in title for the Wii, Nintendo Switch Sports. But let’s call it how it is; underwhelming, and it’s a trend that continues to plague these presentations. As the meme goes “this could have been an email”, but I would expect these digital showcases to continue in hopes that studios and manufacturers can appease their stakeholders, because they aren’t speaking to the devout.
Let’s look at it from where Nintendo skewed from the traditional E3 on-stage showcase to what would push a new format throughout the industry. When the Big N were struggling to push Wii U’s out the door, they ultimately had zero reason to show up to the big event, birthing their own presentation for an intimate look into what was coming for the polarising hardware. The genius of Former Global head at Nintendo, The Late Satoru Iwata proved to be not only a great mind within development, but an entertaining figure that spearheaded these digital exhibitions to success. Heralded for their choice to go “one-on-one” with their userbase, Nintendo had struck gold, a recipe for an ongoing series that would definitively become the norm in 2020 – this of course being a forced outcome due to the ongoing global pandemic.
After Iwata’s untimely passing, questions were raised as to how Directs’ would continue without the leader’s guidance or creativity. Well, we’re at a stalemate with new showcases simply dumping subpar gaming titles that would be appreciated more as trailer drops on social media, or pressers. Sure, it does help smaller titles get more eyes, but the influence is much the same so I’m not too sure where the gain is. Digital impressions are important, and that’s where the numbers for each showcase tell a tale of Nintendo’s dubious traits, holding out for major reveals and release dates late in the game. I will say that it’s a positive that the Big N do hold out on revealing any definitive dates, unlike their competitors giving the risk of constantly announcing delays, much as they did with last generation titles Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World just to name a few.
Former Global President & CEO of Nintendo, The Late Satoru Iwata (Credit: Nintendo)
But we’re here in 2022, in “endemic mode”, with the world opening up and the gaming industry ready to boom once again, but the need for a digital showcase this early on in the year is unnecessary. There were three major announcements if anything from today that escalated any excitement, but in a total of two minutes. Then, some mid-tier titles to keep up busy or distracted for a while, but the rest are forgettable. I’m not trying to insult anyone, which is why I’m leaving names out here, but it’s insulting to an audience of gamers to project a fresh display of content when a great portion of your show was simply rehashes and ports. These presentations should be touted as special events that excite the industry for fresh intellectual properties, new ideas in hardware and games that awe and excite. Not random trailer drops, which is widespread within each respective brand.
Iwata’s vision for exemplary deliveries, and sparse displays that grant quality for fans has been watered down for pressers that simply give gamers “a quick fix”. PlayStation have somewhat improved their showing by bringing out the big guns since the announcement of the PlayStation 5 release, while XBOX have refined theirs with an “in-studio” like program, accompanied with a host of interviews with each developer, and an extended looks into their ever-growing acquisitions. After today, Nintendo no longer lead these digital exhibitions for quality, rather quantity and most of the time that means rarely anything. What qualifies for a Direct these days is a blip on the radar, rather than earthshattering announcements. From what I’m gauging, it’s not about making waves throughout the industry, it’s now an effort to appease the shareholder or apologist.
When E3’s digital rollout premieres in June, we’re either coming in to expect lukewarm announcements to buffer and bottleneck each trailer thread, because at this point it’s incredibly obnoxious of each company, or either absurd of us gamers to expect any more. A news article or simply a plain press release no longer holds its weight, rather a need for that big red screen to shine bright in our faces, with that magic word “Direct” to only disappoint. I implore the ‘big three’ to hold back on these sparse presentations instead of rolling out a teaser that says “Don’t come and expect Breath of the Wild, or Mario Kart 9” which they basically did on twitter last week, yet still a large portion of its viewership tuned in to expect news on both of those titles, only to walk away empty handed. I on the other hand, observed as someone with critique in how the show was structured; poorly.