|Some people seemed to think this is a Wii peripheral.|
Really, one of the best ways to tell how they did is the audience response, from an audience predisposed to like them (the audience that cheered when Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage at the beginning of the conference): At the end, Nintendo got a polite 'golf clap." And not much of one at that.
Look, I think Pikmin 3 looked really nice, but that was clearly the best thing they had. And it's not even necessarily a launch title, they only said that about NintendoLand. Is Pikmin 3 going to make anybody other than the most passionate fanboy run out and drop $300 (probably) on a Wii U? No way.
Third party support was weak. EA who? Activision what? No Grand Theft Auto? Really, if the best you can show is Batman (which is what they lead with), it's a weak lineup. Ubisoft is nice, but they don't pull in the hardcore.
Half of Nintendo's presentation was about sports, fitness, dancing and singing. For the hardcore gamer, you got a zombie's head exploding... a few minutes of hardcore action in all.
Nintendo spent a lot of time on NintendoLand, and their whole E3 booth is built around it. It's basically a set of minigames that use iconic Nintendo characters. See, we have Zelda on Wii U! Well, a little archery range in NintendoLand with a Zelda theme, that's pretty much the same as a Zelda game, right?
They did show Super Mario for the Wii U... it's basically an HD Super Mario. No differences in game play were highlighted, nothing that showed a reason for the gamepad. They didn't even spend much time on it.
Look, it's pretty clear Nintendo had a very weak lineup because they spent so much time on pointless things, like introducing execs from other companies. If you have a ton of games to show, you spend time doing that, not having execs smile and wave and crack dumb jokes.
Once again Nintendo has gotten hardware to market well in advance of software. This looks like the weakest starting software lineup of any Nintendo launch I can remember, and I remember all of them back to NES.
Nintendo still has time to make some corrections to their launch plans. They haven't announced a price yet. They haven't announced a ship date. They could still pack NintendoLand in with the hardware rather than trying to get you to spend $50 or $60 on a collection of minigames.
I think the reaction of investors is pretty telling, though. Nintendo stock dropped 3% after the press conference. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of their announcements. I think Nintendo's headed for another bad year, perhaps exceeding the scale of last year's debacle.
Microsoft and Sony must be pretty happy. They don't have any new hardware this fall, and they won't need it. Perhaps a bit of a price drop here and there (PS Vita, I'm looking at you) and they should do just fine. Nintendo is going to need to pull some large rabbits out of somewhere to have a happy Christmas.