GamesBeat

Nintendo’s E3 2012: Reactions show hardcore gamers lost faith in Wii U (graph)

NeoGAF, one of the Internet’s most popular video game message boards, received over 16,000 posts during the three major Electronic Entertainment Expo press conferences. Now that E3 is over, we can take a look back at how these hardcore gamers reacted and draw interesting conclusions on what they thought of the industry’s biggest trade show of the year.

We’ve already seen how NeoGAF reacted to Microsoft and Sony’s press conferences, but what did the gaming community think of Nintendo’s? The below chart scores the members’ reactions, as posted in real-time:

NeoGAF reacts to the Nintendo E3 conference

Above: Click for a full-size version. For a more detailed explanation of how we analyzed this data, please see the explanation at the end of this article.

What NeoGAF liked about the Nintendo press conference

Only three games registered as positive. The forum members received Pikmin 3 very warmly, and they gave it the highest reaction score of the press conference, while New Super Mario Bros. U and Scribblenauts Unlimited received largely positive comments for a very brief amount of time.

Otherwise, NeoGAF absolutely loved Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s legendary game designer, and Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America.

The only other item that received a positive score was the announcement that the Wii U will support two GamePad tablet controllers at the same time.

What they didn’t like

NeoGAF reacted poorly to just about everything else. Posters lambasted established franchises such as Paper Mario and New Super Mario Bros. They dismissed revitalized and new intellectual properties such as Luigi’s Mansion and ZombiU, respectively. They outright destroyed any talk of motion-controlled games such as Wii Fit Plus and casual titles like Sing and Just Dance 4.

In fact, after Reggie Fils-Aime acknowledged the popular meme “my body is ready” in the 34th minute (which everyone thought was good fun), Nintendo did not generate a positive score for the rest of its morning press conference.

The worst individual minute occurred during the trailer for Sing, reaching a score of -117, which is extraordinary. To put this in perspective, I performed this same study in 2009, and the infamous Wii Vitality Sensor introduction scored only a -80. Sing’s lowest point was the worst E3 2012 press conference moment, beating out even Sony’s Wonderbook (though that scored lower overall due to it being a much longer demo).

Perhaps more interestingly, while the scores for the other conferences went up and down and back up throughout, Nintendo started very strong and then steadily went down from there. One could argue that this was just a result of what they showed and when they showed it. The 6,000+ posts of the NeoGAF thread on Nintendo made it clear that, as the press conference progressed, gamers were becoming increasingly disillusioned by the Wii U. By the end, the majority had lost faith.

This may have major ramifications for Nintendo. The Japanese company lost a big opportunity to court hardcore gamers during this press conference with a console many hoped would engage that very audience. With predicted new console launches next year, Microsoft and Sony could learn valuable lessons from Nintendo’s conference if they want to get core gamers excited.

That could be a big “if.” Video game consoles are much more versatile entertainment devices, engaging a much wider audience. Perhaps, as many members of NeoGAF fear, E3 is not for the hardcore gamer anymore.

Next year’s E3 press conferences should prove very interesting. With the possibility of new game systems, will Microsoft and Sony seek to please hardcore gamers? Or will they continue their momentum in search of more casual audiences?

The most valuable lesson they can learn here: Don’t try to appeal to gamers — as Nintendo repeatedly claimed to do throughout its 70 minutes on stage — and not deliver. As we’ve discovered, hardcore gamers are very hard to impress.

For more on how NeoGAF reacted to the E3 press conferences, check out the Microsoft and Sony studies.

How the scoring works

NeoGAF hosts a single message board thread for each press conference, where dozens of members comment throughout each show. I graded each comment as positive or negative, giving them scores of 1 or -1 respectively. Then I totaled the sum of these reactions for each discrete minute and plotted in the above chart. A high score means that the NeoGAF community liked what they saw; a score close to zero represents mixed reactions; and a low score means that they were not enjoying the show at that moment.

Some notes on how I scored each response:

  • I made no distinction between really positive or somewhat positive comments — likewise for negative comments. Each was given either a score of 1 or -1.
  • While I made every effort to understand the various memes and inside jokes that make up a large part of the responses, if I could not understand a response, I would not score it.
  • In the event that a comment employed obvious sarcasm, I scored it to reflect the original intent of the commentator. If the sarcasm was not clear, I relied on the literal meaning of the comment. Fortunately, the very expressive NeoGAF community rarely employed subtle sarcasm.
  • When comments included positive and negative observations, I accounted for the more immediate reaction to preserve a more real-time response. An example: “I liked the game that was shown at the beginning of the show, but this game now is bad” would have a negative score.
  • Many comments weren’t scored as they offered no opinion. These included clarifications, questions, discussions between members unrelated to the press conference, and inquiries into whether one game or another would be shown at a later time.

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