Nintendo skips TGS, dominates show floor anyway

Nintendo is notorious for being a stubborn no-show at the Tokyo Game Show. For reasons unknown to me, the company has made it a point not to display any first party games at the huge Japanese show. Sure we get impressive autumn press events like the one last week, but TGS has remained a hole in Nintendo’s PR line up that they’re all too happy to ignore.

Turns out, this may be the most brilliant PR move ever. As you know, TGS 2008 is in full swing this week. It’s already being labeled a huge game fest, with new announcements, hands-on demoes, and noteworthy sequels. All of that would seem to indicate that players like Microsoft and Sony, which had keynotes or other big press announcements, would dominate the show in Nintendo’s absence.


As the pic above indicates, the lines were long and widespread for Nintendo titles from third party publishers at TGS. The above pic is for Monster Hunter 3, a Wii exclusive, which Nintendo somehow managed to wrestle away from the competition in 2007. It was a coup for the ages, and the four hour lines to play the thing at TGS indicate it will pay off in treasure, without a doubt.

But that wasn’t all. GoNintendo, which is dutifully chronicling its travels on the TGS show floor this week, reported that the big name on campus at the show is… Nintendo?!

This is quite a funny situation. At TGS 2008, the handheld with the most games at the show is the Nintendo DS. (No surprise there — Jack) When it comes to consoles, the Wii has the most games on the show floor. Those facts in and of themselves aren’t funny, but the fact that Nintendo isn’t even at TGS makes me chuckle. For whatever stubborn reasons, Nintendo hardly ever has anything to do with TGS. I guess they are making a good decision. They don’t even need to showcase their games, yet they dominate the show floor.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some great games for other consoles at TGS, it’s just they aren’t front and center as they would have been as recently as one year ago. GoNintendo, in detailing the TGS Nintendo dominance without actually being there, also links to a report confirming the phenomena at GamaSutra:

The company’s lack of presence notwithstanding, there is a plethora of Wii and DS titles on show, notable at this relatively “core gamer”-focused event.

And with announcements such as No More Heroes 2 timed for TGS, Yuji Naka’s charming recently-announced Let’s Tap for Wii, and Phantasy Star on DS just a few of the show floor standouts, there is plenty of third-party goodness to see here for Nintendo’s consoles — not least of all Monster Hunter 3, which moved from PlayStation 3 to Wii after its initial announcement. Youch.

Youch is right. To be able to control the flow of an industry show that you aren’t even at has to be some kind of new record for the industry. Nintendo’s slow cooker strategy, where it warms the bathwater slowly as to not frighten off new gamers, appears to be coming to a boil.