Nintendo Uses E3 To Regroup, Focus On Its Wii U Diversity
June 10, 2014

Nintendo Uses E3 To Regroup, Focus On Its Wii U Diversity

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Nintendo found itself playing catch up at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and managed to poke at itself at the same time during its Tuesday morning digital event. It began with a stop-motion animated introduction produced by the crew behind Cartoon Network's hit series "Robot Chicken" that mocked past Nintendo press conferences. This was followed by several polished pre-produced video sequences, which suggested that the company wasn't going to take any chances when it came to getting the message out.

Nintendo has found itself on defense since the launch of the Wii U – the follow-up to its smash hit the Nintendo Wii. While the Wii found an audience with casual gamers around the world the Wii U has largely been embraced by only the hardcore gamer fans since it was released in November of 2012. Even with a full year head start the Wii U has failed to match the sales of Sony's PlayStation 4 and only slightly remains ahead of Microsoft's Xbox One.

Instead of focusing on casual games the company doubled down with its core titles, beginning its digital event with a demo of Super Smash Bros., and this followed an introduction of a new toy tie-in for the title. Dubbed the amiibo, it is part of a new toys-to-life category, offering unique features for the game via a special chip that is recognized on the Wii U gamepad. These toys allow a character's data to be downloaded to the Wii U and then uploaded as characters level up.

"This is no ordinary toy," said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer at of Nintendo of America. "The figures data changes as you play."

Nintendo introduced several other core games including Yoshi's Wooly World, which it claimed was not a sequel to Kirby's Epic Yarn yet had a similar look; Splatoon, four-player online paintball shooter with squids; and Mario Maker, an 8-bit game that allows players to go old school while designing their own Mario levels; the side-scrolling Kirby and the Rainbow Curse; Skylanders Infinity, which also utilizes the amiibo figures to change character data; and even a new Legends of Zelda title.

It was clear that Nintendo doubled down and looked to seriously regroup.

Nintendo also went beyond its signature colorful characters and upped the ante in its offering by showing footage of Bayonetta 2, and Hyrule Warriors – both scheduled for fall releases – while the anime-looking Xenoblade Chronicles could see a 2015 release. No doubt all three are part of Nintendo's attempt to showcase the diversity of the Wii U.

Despite the variety in its first-party offerings Nintendo could still face an uphill battle as it lacks serious third-party game publisher support.

Last year Electronic Arts (EA) pulled the plug on Wii U support while Ubisoft is reportedly holding back releasing more titles for the Wii U until its install base increases.

"We did adapt the number of products to the level of quantities that the machine did," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told the gaming news website Polygon this week. "So we will have Just Dance again which is well suited for the machine. We'll have Watch Dogs. We have another couple of products that we are waiting to launch, specifically we have one game that we wait for the machine to be more mass market to launch."

According to the Polygon story, Ubisoft has at least one completed game that is sitting on the shelf already. While Guillemot did not say how long the freeze of completed games would last, he did suggest that Nintendo's dedication to its core titles could help grow the install base. "Nintendo is really coming up with fantastic games," he added to Polygon. "They could, with the right price and very good games, help the machine start selling."