Skip to main content

E3 2010: Winning E3 - Exactly how Nintendo did it

Nintendo has won E3. Fact. And the real Nintendo is back. But the big N's glorious E3 victory wasn't just a case of unveiling a powerful newhandheld and some brilliant-looking core franchise games. There was a lot more at play than that.

So now that I've stopped reeeling from all of last night's conference excitement (okay, so I still am, but I can at least write in sentences now), I've decided to pull things apart, bit by bit, to look at exactly how Nintendo pulled it off. Trust me, the more I think about this, the more it seems to be the crescendo of a whole series of fiendish long and short-term plots. Starting with...

The old bait-and-switch

Nintendo are clever bastards. Fiendish, Machiavellian, very clever bastards. They’d segued into the casual market. They’d learned how hard it is to keep your hardcore fanbase happy when doing that. They’d seen that their biggest two rivals were about to do the same thing with very similar consequences. The best move Ninty could make? Turn back into their old selves with a slew of ‘proper’ Nintendo games and provide a refuge for all the hardcore gamers MS and Sony were about to disenfranchise.

It’s the sharp, one-step-ahead thinking that’s typified Nintendo since Iwata took over. Nintendo saw the potential of the casual market before everyone else, and now that (I suspect)they're seeing its limitations, the big N are getting out before their two rivals over-saturate it to death. The fact is, whatever Reggie says on the face of it, the casual market is fad-driven and has no brand loyalty. Whether by a fear of its distraction by MS and Sony’s shiny new toys, the knowledge that the market can’t sustain three motion controllers with the essentially the same game line-up, both, or even more, Nintendohave spotted that the time is right to get out, andare doing it in the cleverest way possible and a good deal richer.


Nintendo are famously the most watertight company in the industry when it comes to E3 announcements. But in the run up to this year’s show, we got three major leaks. The 3DS’ capabilities were revealed. Retro Studios’ Donkey Kong Country was outed. We found out about Goldeneye Wii. Three big deals, three keystones in Nintendo’s make-up letter to the hardcore. And Ninty just let them slip by accident? It’s possible, I suppose…


Above: And yes, looking at the polygons on Chris' elbow, we reckon this is in-engine. Do not pinch yourself. This is really happening

If you want a memorable E3, you need to bring the surprises. Whatever the rest of your line-up, unexpected additions are what really matters at an event this big. Have a great conference with a completely expected line-up, and you’ll be forgotten by the time everyone hits the bar (1.38 minutes on average). Throw in a few curveballs, and that bar will be toasting you all night.

Above: And so is this

DKC, Kirby, Goldeneye, Resident Evil, Super Street Fighter IV, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Metal Gear Sold 3, Driver, Shin Megami Tensei, Starfox, Mario Kart, Ridge Racer, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Super Monkeyball, Sonic, Assassin’s Creed, Saints Row, Kingdom Hearts, PES, Pilotwings… Between the Wii and 3DS, Nintendo churned out surprise games to rival the total numbers of everything mentioned at their competitors’ conferences. And while we’re on the subject…

And it gets even cleverer on thenext page...

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.