What to expect from Nintendo's surprise Sunday broadcast
3rd Jun 2012 | 17:37
"Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west", goes the phrase in Thirty-Six Stratagems; that other, less quoted Chinese book on the art of war. It means you must deceive to win.
Satoru Iwata may not look like your avid reader of ancient warfare verses, but the under-pressure Nintendo president has moved suddenly to catch his business opponents off-guard.
As Sony and Microsoft drilled their final-minute E3 preparations on Friday evening, Nintendo stole the spotlight and announced it was going to publish a pre-recorded news conference before the weekend was over.
By offering a pre-E3 broadcast on Sunday, along with its live conference on Tuesday, Nintendo is hoping to have the first and last word on the console business. Microsoft and Sony will be squeezed together on Monday in a frantic few hours of corporate theatre, each snatching at the other's thunder.
However you see Nintendo's move to bookend the E3 news conferences, either as seizing the moment or a last-gasp act of desperation, doubling its exposure to the masses couldn't have come at a more important time.
With struggles to repeat the success of the DS in the handheld market, coupled with Nintendo's first ever full-year financial loss in the games business, the company knows that its future hinges more than ever on the success of the Wii U.
And from the general response to Nintendo's prior E3, the new home console will be hard to sell. Is it an enfeebled iPad? A new home console for the core? A revised approach for the casual? Is it ready for the digital age? Will it allure third party publishers? Will it lose the Nintendo stigma of being underpowered? Will it sell?
These huge questions Nintendo must answer in the space of a few days, mere months before Wii Us are lined across retail shelves around the world.
Games will be key in demonstrating Nintendo's new vision, but don't expect to see any until Tuesday. What's more likely is that Nintendo will use its Sunday broadcast to explain more about the console itself.
Services will likely take centre stage. Expect to see the Wii U's digital strategy discussed further, as well as more information on its operating system and UI design. Near-field communication tech (which, if you haven't seen yet, you must) may also be examined.
The big decisions Nintendo has yet to announce, however, will likely be saved for Tuesday. The Wii U's suggested release date and launch games are not Sunday matters.
In a kind of reverse-chronological order, Nintendo will save the last day of the E3 press conferences to try and sell you a Wii U, but tonight, the focus will instead be on what happens when you get one home.