Hardcore Gamers vs. The Big Three E3 Press Conferences: An Empirical Study Considered

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

Editor's Note: We're still trying to figure out how Brainiac here had the time to dissect the Big 3 press conferences from E3 2009 like this. Andrew's thorough, final conclusions are below (click "Read more" for the full report). And if you missed them, don't miss his individual studies, too — very interesting info in each of them. -Shoe

Nintendo press conference report
Microsoft press conference report
Sony press conference report

Click here to see the full size graph

First and foremost, you'll notice in the above graph that there are no "event landmarks." Due to the amount of landmarks across all press conferences, I've removed them from the graph, as it would be completely useless. If you would like to reference the landmarks in the above graph, please see the individual graphs below (click the image for full size):

Reaction to the Nintendo Conference

Reaction to the Sony Conference

Reaction to the Microsoft Conference

Abstract: After the totals of forum members' reactions for each one-minute interval were tallied and charted, we now have a basis on which to compare the reactions to each conference. We can also see patterns in the responses that can offer insight that will allow us to predict future responses to press conferences, or offer guidelines on how to develop press conferences that will impress NeoGAF, and perhaps by extension, hardcore gamers. If that's what you want to do (Nintendo probably doesn't, for one).

Comment Totals: "Who won E3," a consistent theme appearing in the threads studied, is beyond the scope of this informal study. Only the immediate reactions were tabulated, and plenty of discussion has occured in the week following the press conferences. But we can still take the sum total of comments for each press conference. The results are below:


Total Sums for Entire Conferences
Microsoft: 488
Sony: 33
Nintendo: -372

Click here for full size graph

Please note that the Microsoft and Sony had comparably long shows, while Nintendo achieved a significantly lower score in half the time.

Comparisons: Using the combined data, we can make a few superficial comparisons (without delving into hard statistical analysis).

Sony's conference started with the highest positive score. This may be due to the fact that it was slightly delayed and anticipation had built up. They were also able to sustain positive reaction the longest, while the other two companies quickly went to negative reactions.

The first "major high" point was during Nintendo's conference, with the announcement of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This quickly followed the first "major low" point, the appearance of Cammie Dunaway.

The highest scores are ranked as follows:

Final Fantasy 14 announcement: 85
Crackdown 2 announcement: 83
Metroid: The Other M announcement: 77
Alan Wake demo: 73
New Super Mario Bros. Wii announcement: 50
Super Mario Galaxy 2 announcement: 49

The lowest scores are ranked as follows:

Wii Vitality Sensor announcement: -80
Final Fantasy XIV revealed as MMO: -58
PSP Go priced at $249.99: -48
Cammie Dunaway's Appearance: -47
Hannah Montana PSP: -46
Motion Control Elephant Painting: -39

All conferences trended toward zero at the end of the conference, due to mixed opinion on the conference overall. Nintendo was in the positive, while Microsoft and Sony were slightly negative.

Trends: A variety of trends appeared during the study, many of which could have been easily predicted — others were revealing.

First, as rule, NeoGAF members do not like the following: montages, long speeches, motion control, ugly/male/notepad-using translators, casual titles and marketing, or canned/forced humor. They prefer candid humor, digs at the competition, demos over trailers, trailers over no-footage announcements, exclusives over cross-platform titles, and new announcements (referred to as "MEGATON") over already revealed information.

It should be noted that in nearly all instances of an appearance of a known person — whether executive, developer, or celebrity — the threads responded initially as positive. The sole exceptions to this were: Cammie Dunaway, Yoko Ono, and Peter Molyneux. It is beyond the scope of this study to conclude that either Cammie Dunaway or Peter Molyneux is the Yoko Ono of video games.

Also, interestingly, in all instances of a positive reaction to a known person, opinion quickly turned negative. All previously unknown speakers were uniformly lambasted upon appearances, unless members of the forum found the presenter to be an attractive female.

There was another trend observed in the threads. While most NeoGAF members reacted negatively to the idea of motion control, many did say that the technology was impressive. While these comments were scored negative due to the actual opinion they were expressing, there was a certain optimism found concerning all forms of motion control (Wii MotionPlus, Project Natal, and Sony's wand/camera prototype).

Suggestions for Future Press Conferences: Should a company wish to illicit a more positive reaction from hardcore gamers in future press conferences, a selection of suggestions resulting from this study is presented (although many should be obvious):

  1. Sustain positive reaction from the beginning by quickly introducing unrevealed product.
  2. Allow executives and developers who have a "hero" or cult-like status to make announcements that will appeal more to hardcore gamers (of the MEGATON variety), instead of providing known and underwhelming quantities.
  3. Limit "just talking alone" segments to 30 seconds or under.
  4. Do not use commercial-like segments featuring real-life human beings.
  5. Limit casual-focused product to a single block, preferably in the middle of the show.
  6. Avoid sales graphs and discussion.
  7. Limit each title's segment to three minutes, including all demos, trailers, and discussion.
  8. Focus on exclusive titles, whether they be known or unknown titles.
  9. Limit presentation time that focuses on product for handheld devices or online platforms.
  10. When featuring new technology (specifically: motion control), limit use of "tech demos" and incorporate the tech into known and appreciated games.
  11. Allow for candid, genuinely funny commentary instead of stiff, teleprompted humor.
  12. Allow celebrity guests to make actual announcements instead of relying on their presence for the sake of their presence.
  13. Have a staffer create animated gifs in real time for distribution through NeoGAF. (This one, not so much)


Final Word: While this study focused on NeoGAF, it should be pointed out that the express purpose of these press conferences was not to appeal to them specifically. Nintendo has proven that there are substantial profits in markets that do not, and would not, if they knew it existed, use NeoGAF. That said, the forum is the largest and most influential board on the Internet, being visited by thousands of videogame players at any given moment. While it is a small segment of the Internet, it can provide a valuable sign post to the opinions and reactions of hardcore gamers everywhere.

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