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Nintendo's E3 press conference absence was a one-off, publisher says

The E3 press conference isn't necessarily a thing of the past for Nintendo.

This year's unique approach to the show, skipping the press conference and opting instead for a very hands-on driven approach to its E3 showing, was one driven by what Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said was a specific set of circumstances.

Speaking with Polygon about halfway through the show, Fils-Aime said that if he were to do it over again Nintendo's approach to E3 this year would have been exactly the same, to not have a press conference. But that doesn't mean that it's done with E3 press conferences.

"Next year and what we do at E3 next year is going to be an ongoing conversation, based on what the right thing to do is for the content we have," he said. "What we are not saying as a result of this year is that the Nintendo press conference is dead."

This year's decision to not host their annual pre-E3 press conference was driven by several things, Fils-Aime said. First, he said, the company had a lot of games to show and they wanted to focus on titles coming to the Wii U and 3DS this year.

"This year, we have a parade of content that once you get your hands on it, you say to yourself I gotta get this game and I mean think about it," he said "We have all of these playable games on our floor and most of them are coming out this holiday season, three are coming in 2014. "

Another major reason for the shift away from E3 is Nintendo's increasing reliance on its regular Nintendo Direct streamed videos. The videos, typically streamed simultaneously in Japan, Europe and the United States, gives the company's game makers and executives a chance to speak directly to Nintendo fans.

"What we are not saying as a result of this year is that the Nintendo press conference is dead."

I asked Fils-Aime if using Nintendo Direct to help promote Nintendo's products might be a bad idea, if the company is trying to expand its audience. Isn't it essentially preaching to the choir?

Fils-Aime says it isn't, not exactly.

"Nintendo Direct is very powerful for us and we are going to continue to utilize Nintendo Direct to drive engagement with our user," he said. "I would say that certainly the first viewership is by our fans, by people who know the brand and know the products, there is tremendous secondary viewership that happens and this is something that is a bit different from lets say Japan, in our market the viewership builds over time, literally after three weeks or four weeks after a Nintendo direct the viewership is still climbing steadily."

He credits the growth to social media.

"So that pass around viewership, I do think, is new consumers and consumers who don't necessarily have the platform," he said.

Messaging is important right now because Nintendo needs to grow the size of its Wii U audience. Fils-Aime says he's not happy with the number of Wii U consoles sold and that he understands why third-party developers may be reluctant to make games for the console right now.

Last week, for instance, Electronic Arts' Frank Gibeau told Polygon that the publisher had no games coming to the Wii U this fall. Fils-Aime said he gets it.

"We talk to EA all the time, we talk to all of our publishing partners all the time," he said. "In the end this is a simple business. First party needs to drive a large diverse install base for publisher to create content to take advantage of that install base. That is what we are looking to do, you know for any publisher what they want to say to themselves is that we have game X and we are confident that we can sell game X not only to pay off the investment but to make a profit on that game."

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