Nintendo didn't exactly have the greatest showing at its annual E3 conference last June. Arriving to the show with what was generally seen as the most leverage of the big three gaming companies, the Big N looked poised to unleash the full potential of the Wii U onto the masses. Sony and Microsoft both had no plans to reveal new hardware at the show, so for the first time in what felt like a long while, words like "technological advancement" and "the future of gaming" came to be associated with Nintendo once again.
Then the conference happened. What was supposed to be the beginning of a Wii U hype train that would carry the Japanese gaming giant all the way to the holiday season quickly turned into fanboy-exhausting derailment. Newly announced titles like Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. 2 were great, but expected, and intriguing new IP like Project P-100 were left out of the conference altogether. Re-releases like the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition came off as uninspired. NintendoLand left people confused. No release date or price point for the system was given. The whole thing came across as a bit underwhelming, and, in all likelihood, deflated many a Nintendo fan's high expectations.
Does it sound like I'm being too harsh yet?
Reggie Fils-Aime probably would think so. In a post-E3 interview with Kotaku, the President and COO of Nintendo of America was asked what, in his opinion, could have caused the largely lukewarm response to his company's conference. This is what he said:
"One of the things that, on one hand, I love and, on the other hand, that troubles me tremendously about not only our fanbase but about the gaming community at large is that, whenever you share information, the perspective is, 'Thank you, but I want more.' 'Thank you, but give me more.' I mean, it is insatiable.
"And so for years this community has been asking, 'Where's Pikmin?' Where's Pikmin? Where's Pikmin?' We give them Pikmin. And then they say, 'What else?'
"For years, this community have said, 'Damnit Reggie, when you launch, you better launch with a Mario game.' So we launch with a Mario game, and they say, 'So what's more?'
"I have heard people say, 'You know, you've got these fantastic franchises, beyond what you're doing in Smash Bros.; isn't there a way to leverage all these franchises?' So we create NintendoLand and they say, 'Ho-hum, give me more.' So it's an interesting challenge."
Personally, I think Reggie makes a reasonable point. Gamers, by and large, are very much vocal about their demand for what they perceive as high quality experiences. It's their money (or their parents' money) that's being spent, after all, so the argument goes something along the lines of 'We don't pay game makers to provide mediocrity.' Fairly high-profile releases are provided for months at a time in the gaming industry, and with the major gaming press providing a chunk of previews for each relatively major title in the months leading up to these releases, the fanbase's level of anticipation, excitement, and demand stays at a consistently high level.
For a publisher and a developer like Nintendo, it's understandable to find this constant hunger "insatiable," as Fils-Aime terms it. This industry is one that never sleeps. With the ever-increasing cost of game development these days, the risk-reward factor to making a game is greater than ever before. Add the constant pressure from a potential audience to make the game as good as it could possibly be, and you have yourself a recipe for stress.
From the development side, it's perfectly reasonable to get irked at a group of fans—most of whom probably have no insight into how complex the game making process is—that simply can't just be content what they're given.