E3 2008 Nintendo Media Briefing Breakdown

By Eli Green
July 15, 2008 - 17:00

This year's E3 Nintendo Media Briefing started with a considerably smaller bang than last year's YouTube video and news clip filled fan fest. Instead, this year's Briefing began with a montage of people playing various games on Wii and DS, both from various promotional events and advertisements. There was one thing everybody was doing in the montage though, aside from playing games of course. They were all smiling. The montage ended with the quote “We promise to keep the world smiling...”, and Cammie Dunaway, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nintendo of America (NOA), came out on stage, accompanied by a huge smile and the kind of perky attitude that could make you twitch after watching her too much. Quite honestly, she looked like she belonged on a kids show.

Moving on to more important things though, Dunaway started of by talking about all the reasons the people at Nintendo have for smiling these days, talked for a few seconds about being a mom and working at Nintendo, and then made an oddly personal segue, including a story that could have easily been a pitch for Stephen Colbert's

Shaun White rides the Wii Balance Board
WRISTSTRONG campaign, to introducing Shaun White demonstrating Shaun White Snowboarding . They talked for a bit about how Ubisoft used his input for creating the game for Wii and optimized it for use with the Wii Balance Board. Then Dunaway got on the Balance Board herself and tried out the halfpipe for a bit, after which she announced that the game will be releasing for Wii by the end of the year. She announced that the game was coming exclusively for Wii, which was quite interesting, considering the fact that the game has already been announced for Xbox 360, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, PSP, PC and Nintendo DS. So, clearly, she meant the Wii version is coming exclusively for Wii. Hmm.

Continuing on, Dunaway introduced Nintendo's Global President, Saturo Iwata, who spoke for a bit about Nintendo's reinvigoration over the past five years, since his first time addressing E3 as President of Nintendo in 2005. “I must admit that that even Nintendo employees could not have imagined that five years later the market would have responded so quickly that we could be selling millions of bathroom scales (speaking of Wii Fit and the Wii Balance Board) around the world.”

Iwata continued to talk about a paradigm shift in the video game market, saying that there are now a number of video games that are able to be popular for not months, but years, becoming “evergreen”; a term defining a product that stays continually fresh or interesting to consumers, including the Brain Age franchise, Nintendogs , Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros. Moreover, Iwata focused on how much Nintendo's user base has grown to all kinds of different consumers, of all different ages, from kids to seniors. In other words, age is

Iwata went on to discuss sales statistics for Nintendo DS, starting with mentioning how video game systems were originally considered as only a gift item for mainstream consumers, purchased during the holiday season. Now, systems are being purchased by individuals, for their own personal use, at all times of the year. He went on to say that in Europe, consumers are purchasing over 200,000 Nintendo DS units per week “as if every week were a holiday week.” In North America, over the last three months, people have purchased an average of 700,000 Wii consoles, numbers not usually achieved outside of November and December.

Bathroom Scales
He continued to speak about how, last year, he said Nintendo's desire was to break down all psychological barriers that exist between gamers and non-gamers. He pointed out Wii Sports and Wii Play , saying they were a good start, but not enough to really show off a trend. Mario Kart Wii and W ii Fit were better, but he pointed to Guitar Hero III as the best example of this shift. He made sure to point out that, while it is true that the game is available across most platforms, the Wii version is still selling the best.

Iwata then went on to make a very interesting point, one which many people have been thinking about since Wii launched. “Even if it is revolutionary, sooner or later, people will become tired of a new form of entertainment,” he said. “This happens faster when others try to reproduce the initial change. Then what seemed fresh inevitably will be lost. For all of us in the video game industry there is danger in standing still.” I find this to be very insightful and reassuring, because it means that Iwata, as the President of one of the world's largest video game manufacturers, knows that they can't just rest on the current popularity of Wii and Nintendo DS, but that the company must push what those systems can do even further. This means that the way people use these systems should not simply be a novelty, but the standard and should continue to be improved upon.

Iwata then left the stage and a video with Katsuya Eguchi, creator of Animal Crossing , came on, introducing a new Animal Crossing for Wii, called Animal Crossing City Folk . This latest addition to the franchise will be very similar to the previous games, in that they will include the real time world where things are always happening, even when players are not playing the game. There is also a city area where players will be able to purchase items, put up items for sale and change their avatar's fashion or looks. Communication will also be a major part of City Folk , including WiiSpeak, which Eguchi calls a “community microphone”. It's not a headset, but rather a microphone that sits on top of the sensor bar. The game can also give you an insight into other players' personalities, as they can visit their towns and see how they designed them.

After the video, Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO of NOA, came out on stage and announced that City Folk will be releasing for Wii by the end of the year. He then continued to talk about more sales statistics, including the accomplishment of reaching the milestone of 10 million Wii units sold back in May, the sales of Nintendo DS units surpassing 20 million units (though its lifetime sales are around 70 million now) and the combined sales of just the two consoles, not including software, amounting to over $5 billion in the U.S. alone.

He went on to show the lifetime global hardware unit sales, which the DS topped, and said that Nintendo expects the total sales of Nintendo DS to reach 100 million units by March of 2009. He went on to show how sales of the DS have continued to rise steadily each year since its launch and said that, even though 2007 was expected to be the peak year for DS, the handheld's sales are 12% ahead of last year's record. He continued by saying that the key franchise for DS this year was Pokémon , specifically the combined Mystery Dungeon games.

Fils-Aime moved on to talk about the advertising campaign Nintendo launched back in May, featuring Liv Tyler, Carrie Underwood and America Ferrera, specifically targeting women, and how, within weeks, unit sales for the previously mentioned “evergreen” titles at least doubled. He went on to say that once NPD releases the June sales figures this Thursday, Nintendo would not be surprised to see Wii come out as the best selling console in this generation, in America. He then showed how Wii's software sales have continued to grow since the first year.

He then talked about third-party publishers, showing a number of the popular publishers who have had some of their titles surpass 400,000 units sold on Wii, and then showcased only three particular upcoming third-party titles, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (out this holiday season), Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (out this fall) and Call of Duty: World At War.

Female Nintendo DS Recipient Stats
Dunaway then came back out on stage to talk about Nintendo DS stats and third-party titles. She showed how much the DS's female user base has grown, showing how the number of females who own a Nintendo DS has almost reach parity with the number of males. A video then played, showing off Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades and Spore Creatures .

She then came back out on stage to talk about the next Pokémon title, Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia , which will be releasing in North America on November 10 th and announce that Grand Theft Auto will be coming to DS in a new game called Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars . The game is being built from the ground, up for DS and will be set in Liberty City, still featuring the free roaming gameplay style players of the GTA know so well.

Dunaway then moved on to talk about how the DS could potentially be used for travel information and can already be used at SafeCo Field in Seattle to check box scores for other baseball games and order food. Cooking Navi is also coming to North America in English this November, bringing a digital cookbook with local and international recipes to kitchen across North America.

Fils-Aime made his way back out on the stage to introduce Wii MotionPlus. Now, we already introduced Wii MotionPlus to you yesterday, explaining how it finally introduces 1:1 motion response to the Wii Remote. We also posed our concerns about it, and we're happy to note that it will be packaged with an extended Wii Remote jacket as part of the next iteration of Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, available next spring. Of course, they will be available separately, but nobody said how much they will cost

individually. At this point, we're going to guess either $14.99 USD/CAD or $19.99 USD/CAD. Honestly though, both prices are too high for something that should have been a part of the Wii Remote from the start.

Fils-Aime, Dunaway and Bill Trinen, from Nintendo's Treehouse Group, then demonstrated the Disc Dog (frisbee throwing), Jet ski and Sword Duelling games from Wii Sports Resort . The good news is that, while demonstrating the Jet ski game, Fils-Aime showed off how the Nunchuck will attach to the Wii Remote while Wii MotionPlus is in use.

They then left the stage, the room went dark, and the lights slowly came up on a single personal, sitting on a drum stool, with a drum kit showing on the screen. Before it zoomed in, it looked like he was playing with the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit, but he was actually playing with the Balance Board, Wii Remote and Nunchuck. After a short drum solo, a curtain lifted, a Shigeru Miyamoto came out on stage playing his Wii Remote like a sax. He officially introduced Wii Music , originally introduced back at E3 2006, for release this holiday season.

Ravi Drums plays a solo
Wii Music will be different from regular music games. It won't require players to match note sequences. Instead it will allow players to play just through motion and their own timing preferences. Miyamoto continues on saying he doesn't know how to play sax, but he does know how to play guitar, but Wii Music allows him to play whatever instrument you feel like. In fact, Wii Music will allow players, up to four simultaneously, to play over 50 instruments. After showing off various instruments, other Nintendo employees came out to play the Super Mario Bros. theme. Fils-Aime and Dunaway returned to the stage to do a recap of the the Briefing and make the closing statements.

Overall, I'd say the Briefing was a success, however, I'm starting to wonder whether Nintendo has gone accessory crazy or not. At the very least, a number of the software offerings look very exciting, and they didn't even mention a number of games that have already been announced.

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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