Ok, so maybe Nintendo just doesn't have anything big to announce for the Wii U? That would be the most understandable reason for the move. But I sincerely doubt this is the case.
We know that a new Zelda, Mario Kart, a new 3D Mario title and a new Super Smash Bros. are all on the way - plenty to fill out a full press conference. And Nintendo has been explicit in its plans to show most of these titles off at E3.
But instead Satoru Iwata and Co. are banking on the success of its Nintendo Direct presentations and some intimate hands on events to drive its E3 success this year. I'm among the consensus that these Directs have been great at keeping momentum for the company over the last year, especially for the 3DS, but they won't let Nintendo make the splash it needs to at E3.
Nintendo's decision might not affect its hardcore games, but it does risk leaving a bad impression on everyone else. By not standing up against Microsoft and Sony, it makes us wonder if Nintendo is serious about competing in the next console generation at all. Wii U sales are poor and Nintendo needs to be as aggressive as it can be right now.
But what do we expect from rivals at E3? Well, Microsoft has just announced it will be unveiling the new Xbox on May 21, so it won't be that. We don't know how much of it will be shown off at next month's event, but we expect that little will be left to the imagination.
Meanwhile, chances are that Sony will finally give us a look at what the PS4 looks like, given we've only seen the controller so far. We're also sure to get a few more titles to join those announced back in February, but probably not a tonne more.
So where did this leave Nintendo? Potentially in a stronger position than it's ever been, surprisingly. At least it was until it pulled the plug.
Given the embryonic stage of the Xbox and PS4, it's likely that we'll be getting a lot of "Here's what's coming somewhere down the line", while Nintendo has the perfect opportunity to get up on that stage and just bombard us with the titles we've been waiting for: "This is the new 'Zelda' and it's out at Christmas - on to the next one," or "You can download it on your 3DS next month".
Mario might not be enough to save the Wii U, but with his friends the console might just have a fighting chance to take on the technologically more powerful PS4 and next Xbox.
Shying away from the big stage and choosing to make these announcements via more intimate means will do nothing but make it easier for attention to be drawn away from Nintendo.
These livestreams will never hit the highs of anticipation and excitement that come with a Nintendo E3 event. I believe that a mediocre Nintendo press conference is still better than none at all - especially right now.
At least, until Valve announces the Steam Box will launch with Half-Life 3 as an exclusive. At which point everyone else loses E3 anyway.