E3 2007: Liveblogging the Nintendo Press Conference

Team Dtoid is sittin’ pretty at Nintendo’s E3 press conference, ready and waiting to give the lot of you some live updates. It’s big, loud, the music is slightly obnoxious and the room is jlit up with any number of family-friendly photos of people playin’, y’know, games. Hit the jump for our live-bloggin’.

[Note: Nick here — I’m going to be doing my best to take care of the photos on this post, but I’ll also be doing my own personal live blog over in my community blog. Check it out here for double the live blogging action.]

9:00: Conference starts with a video and light show. The video is featuring the Wii as a “culturaql phenomenon”, footage from network news and such gushing over the Nintendo Wii and the DS.

9:04: Reggie is here, and he’s “happy”. Happy Reggie Mii on the big screen. “Today is a celebration, and not just a celebration for Nintendo, but for all of us.” He says this E3 is a conclusive turning point for the market, as we welcome more players to the gaming industry.  He calls E3 2007 the “coming out party” for the industry. Reggie’s remarking on the industry’s yearly growth: 46% for the US, 42 for the UK, and 114% for Japan. He says that these numbers reveal an expanded market. Audience expansion in the home — Wii or DS offered to people who don’t play games. “45 minutes later, I can’t get my game back.”

9:07: 69% of all game industry growth comes from Nintendo sales, Reggie says. He also notes the growth of the portable market into a share rivaling that of home console hardware. Unquestionably, he says, the DS is leading industry growth.

9:08: Reggie shows us a chart representing spending for different age groups. Gamers over 25 represent over 30% of the market. 25 and up represent 23% of Nintendo game buyers. The breakdown for the market by gender for everyone except Nintendo is 80/20 between men and women — what Reggie refers to the “law that never changes”. Nintendo, on the other hand, is 33% to 67%. Women are gaining points.

9:12: Regular players of Wii-owning households: 95% of all males 6-24. 66% of males 25-49 play regularly in Wii households. 33% of women.

9:13: These statistics, Reggie says, are proof of a first in the industry. Reggie discusses Nintendo’s sales philosophy: pulling the total market outward and expanding the reach of their games to as wide an audience as possible. “Sure, that’s all happening now, but that’s just a fad”, Reggie says, “but if I were in there shoes, I’d be saying the same thing. But here’s the reality: the DS flew by 40 million units worldwide and remains the best-selling game system on the planet. 33 weeks ago we launched the Wii, and has been effectively sold out all over the world for all 33 weeks. Wii is poised to become #1 worldwide in this generation very soon. The reality is this: Nintendo is not a fad. Nintendo is the future. It’s little surprise that the development community is responsing accordingly.”

9:15: Between now and the holidays, 100 new games for Wii, 140 new games for the DS. Reggie notes the “wonderful new reality”: everyone is a gamer. Ooh, video!

9:16: YouTube-esque stuff of people playing the Wii, opening the Wii, Cnet coverage, selections from the Short Cuts contest, skits, sketches, people generally obsessing about Nintendo the way people tend to obsess about Nintendo. DESTRUCTOID MAKES AN APPEARANCE! Wheee!

9:18: Reggie introduces the Wii Zapper, now remodeled, looks kind of like a shotgun with two handles, holds the Wiimote and the nunchuk together, different than what we were expected. EA’s Medal of Honor for Wii built specifically for the Wii Zapper. Up to 32 soldiers in multiplayer mode. 32 friend codes!?!?!?

9:20: Wii Zapper will be made available for $19.99!

9:21: Soul Calibur, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008 shown. More about the DS: it’s the staging area for legendary franchises. Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword on the DS. Square-Enix on the Wii: Dragon Quest Swords, early next year. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, up to four players kickin’ ass on an olympic track. These games, Reggie says, appeal to core gamers.

9:23: BRAWL! BRAWL BRAWL BRAWL BRAWL 

9:24: Brawl is coming in the Americas on December 3rd. This lineup, Reggie says, demonstrates all the action coming to the DS and the Wii. 

9:24: Two editors from The Hylia in a video about the Wii.  Mike Damiani and Bill Trinen from the Treehouse group on stage, looks to be demonstrating something from Phantom Hourglass. We’re seeing the game up on the big screen, looks pretty neat, as we’ve seen with the Japanese release. Bill calls it the most tactile Zelda experience to date — more tactile than Twilight Princess? We’re not supposed to say that! Shuddap! 

9:28: Bill Trinen disclaims hyperbole and says that Phantom Hourglass is his favorite Zelda game ever. Perfect scores from Famitsu, rave reviews and high sales in Japan, the hardcore love it, he says. 

9:30: Jackie is playing Metroid Prime 3, and Bill is talking about a gesture system worked into the control. They claim the control is the best first person control on a console, but it’s difficult to tell how moving and turning feel in this situation. They’re demonstrating a lock-on that is independent from the on-screen aiming — so you can strafe around an enemy while shooting at various bits on the screen.  

9:32: Reggie again. He says that Nintendo is already serious about Internet play, and we just didn’t notice. What? A video about people playing the DS and stuff online. Maybe this is the part where they announce they’re doing away with friend codes — Jesus God, I hope they do away with friend codes. :<

9:34: 5.6 million Wii Shop Channel downloads from 112 classic games available.

9:35: Wii Ware. Beginning next year.

9:35: A new Mii channel called “Check Mii Out”, a bastard child of the Everybody Votes channel and the Mii Channel — you can vote on Miis, take home the ones you like best, contests (creating Miis based on real life celebrities, etc). 

9:36: Mario Strikers Charged, an online title. EA sports going online with Madden NFL 08 online. FIFA Soccer 08. Square is releasing Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker for the DS in the US. Had that been announced already? I think that’s new. Hip. Activision’s Guitar Hero III: Legends with online play and an exclusive wireless controller. 

9:38: MARIO KART WII: First quarter of next year, online play. Classic looking carts, real-time online multiplayer battle mode. Just one racer per cart, no more Double Dash.  

9:39: Custom Wii wheel that makes its debut with Mario Kart for the Wii. Reggie says it will level the track for beginners. Looks very Wii-like in color, composition. Mario Kart will come packaged with the Wii Wheel. 

9:41: Another Wii video, old people playing the system. All ages! Old people! Toddlers! CHEAPY D!

9:42: Satoru Iwata takes the stage. He says that Nintendo has been seeing positive results with their unconventional and unexpected software (Nintendogs, Brain Age), and the Wii. The Wii attracts people who have never played before, he says. Iwata talkes about a paradigm software in his own home — the DS cookbooks got him making dinner for his family. 

9:45: Iwata says he knows veteran gamers are afraid that Nintendo is leaving them behind. Expansion products having nothing to do with them. He says what we’ve seen today shows that this is not the case. He asks veterans to remember their very first day as gamers — an exciting time, but maybe a little intimidating. He says new players are the most valuable prize for a developer — players who can improve, players for life.

9:47: Iwata says that we must destroy the psychological barriers between veteran and beginner players — everyone can develop a taste for video games. He says the Wii Zapper erases a kind of complexity for players who have not had much experience. The best game design, he says, lets users of all skill levels play together.  Miyamoto is coming out in a few minutes with a new title. Holy fuck, Miyamoto! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

9:50: Another video of people from Austin talking about, y’know, ease of use. Blahrg, don’t care. Miyamoto with the new title! Oh, wait — they’re showing some Mario Galaxy, that’s okay. Groovy.  Brain Age 2, complete with new minigames.

9:52: Reggie is back, talking more about Brain Age 2. Also more about Super Mario Galaxy — he calls it the first “worthy successor” to Mario 64. Hey, I liked Sunshine, jerk! Aw, it’s okay. Mario’s in a goddamn BEE SUIT. What the hell? Novebmer 12th for Mario Galaxy. 

9:54: Shows some of Picross DS, MySims from EA (on Wii and DS). High School Musical for the Wii and DS? Oh, crap, I can’t wait. Ooh, Raving Rabbids 2 — that looks slick. Vision Training game — to be called Flash Focus in the US. UbiSoft is doing some training games, MyWord Coach.

9:57: All this stems from the popularity, he says, of Wii Sports. Could this mean a Wii Sports 2 announcement or something? Maybe? Who knows. Miyamoto’s still on the way.

9:59: New game: Wii Fit. Pressure sensitive pads that can detect your movement. Pushups, Yoga, folks getting all sweaty. Lady doing a hula hoop kind of deal — looks pretty cool. Two of the pressure-sensitive pads have been brought out onto the stage, which seems to me that — oh dear, I have a feeling we’ll see Reggie and Miyamoto do some stairsteppin’. The game tracks your BMI over time and has lots of mini games that take advantage of hte pressure sensitive pad. Wait, nevermind, the demo people just hit the stage. 

10:02: Miyamoto arrives. Three fitness trainers to demonstrate — one of them shows us the one legged stretch. The on-screen display shows us the center of gravity as read by the Wii Fit pad — this could have a lot of really cool applications beyond this one game. Now we’re checking out the aerobics exercise — this one is like a simplified DDR kind of minigaqme. Really, really simplified.

10:06: Wii Fit features over 40 activities in the game in total. The Wii Balance Board is what they’r;e calling the peripheral, and it’s very thin. By standing on the board, it can measure your weight, your balance, how your balance shifts, et cetera. This is going to be a new interface for games that allows you to use your full body movement as input. Take that, Activator!

10:08: They’re doing a BMI check on Reggie to show off the measurement aspect of Wii Fit. The pad is measuring his weight and center of gravity — it shows Reggie’s balance shifted slightly to the right. It shows the figures of how much he leans to the right (55%) over the left (45%).

10:12: Wii Fit defines Reggie’s BMI as 27.51, which makes him overweight. There’s also a level for “obese”, which means I’m sure as shit not ever trying that. 😀 

10:13: Reggie and Miyamoto are demonstrating the soccer heading game in Wii Fit. Reggie wins! 

10:14: Nintendo, Reggie says, is not close to being satisfied — it’s a remarkable time for a remarkable industry. A huge reservoire of talent, creative minds and creative talents working for many companies — beyond that, however, is leadership. This, he says, is Nintendo’s moment to lead. Market share is a secondary goal, but the primary target is much wider — 24 hours in every day, and only a small amount of time is available for leisure entertainment. Nintendo intends to steal more of that time away for video games. People want to get inside their entertainment, and Nintendo is all about that, Reggie says.  

 

That’s it! We’re out of here. 

Aaron Linde