E3: Nintendo's press conference - full report

Nintendo's E3 2008 conference contained few surprises for the hardcore gamers
Nintendo's E3 2008 conference contained few surprises for the hardcore gamers

'Every week is a holiday week' says Nintendo's ebullient president Mr. Iwata at the opening of Nintendo's E3 2008 press conference, which just concluded in Los Angeles.

Nintendo had a few surprises up its sleeve, including a new Grand Theft Auto game for DS and the sequel to the family friendly hit Wii Sports, more on which below, although the bulk of the conference was business as usual for the Japanese gaming giant – with the by-now expected buzzwords including 'innovation', 'paradigm shift' and 'disrupting the market'.

Nintendo's 2008 conference is opened by a smiling Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo's new EVP of sales & marketing who, after regaling the audience with stories of accidents on a family snowboarding trip, introduces Shaun White demo'ing his own game – Ubisoft's Shaun White Snowboarding (due later in 2008) – on the Wii Balance Board.

Next up, there is a warm welcome from the crowd for Nintendo's Global President, Satoru Iwata, keen to talk about the "true paradigm shift" that he feels has taken place since his first E3 as President of Nintendo back in 2003, when there was a generally pessimistic view about Nintendo's future.

Core gamers have needs

Mr Iwata stresses that 'evergreen' titles such as Nintendogs, Brain Training, Super Mario Bros and Mario Kart DS are key to Nintendo's recent successes.

He is also keen to stress that Nintendo is not turning its back on the core gamer market, stressing that Nintendo's "internal teams which makes Mario and Zelda games are both hard at work -- they will bring new titles to Wii."

"Small teams with small budgets can capture wide audiences if they have a great idea. This is the challenge and oportunity of WiiWare," adds Iwata.

Animal Crossing City Folk

"We at Nintendo…seek fresh surprises, and I hope you will enjoy the ones we have for you today," he says, introducing Animal Crossing City Folk producer Katsuya Eguchi who gives a thorough demo of this much-anticipated title for the Wii.

Animal Crossing on Wii features its own academy, fashion designers, stores, beauty salons and - most interestingly - a new feature called Wii Speak in which you can speak to other players via a community microphone. All intriguing stuff and we are sure to hear much more about this from Nintendo about this major Wii game over the coming days.

"Looking ahead, I want players to continue to be able to create their own worlds, to continue to communicate with others in a variety of ways," says Eguchi-san, "and to have a place where players can connect with each other."

Third party partners

Nintendo's bullish COO, Reggie Fils Amie is next up on the stage to roll out the NPD sales figures (in which US Wii sales hit 10 million systems, DS hit 20 million systems by May 2008).

"But we're not satisfied," says Fils Amie, "because there are tens of millions of people still not on, and millions of gamers who are hungry for what's next. We want to fulfil both those needs."

Discussing the success Nintendo's third party publishers have found with Wii, Fils Aime poses (and answers!) a rhetorical question: "Is this the platform that will be dominated by casual games, or where people can fresh up legendary IP, or a place for new franchises? Well, the correct answer is all of the above."

Three major forthcoming Wii titles from third party publishers are demoed - Star Wars The Clone Wars (with the motion-control lightsaber duelling), Ubisoft's party game favourite Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party (which also makes use of the Wii Balance Board) and Activision's Call of Duty World At War (featuring a rather cool co-op mode).

Adam Hartley