— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) June 10, 2014
The second day of the of the 2014 E3 conference signaled the opening of the show floor and was marked by several promising new announcements from Nintendo.
President and COO of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime, hosted the 1-hour keynote via prerecorded video, placing almost total focus on releases for the struggling Wii U console.
The Wii U has previously been plagued with poor sales and lack of gaming content, leading to public apologies from Nintendo staff involved in its release. However, Nintendo’s presentation aimed to build momentum behind the console by announcing several high profile releases.
Chief among them were trailers and gameplay from two new entries into one of Nintendo’s hero franchises: The Legend of Zelda.
Hyrule Warriors, slated for release in September of this year, is a hack-and-slash sword fighting brawler, and a departure from traditional Legend of Zelda game mechanics. Though hype around this game is high, the unfamiliar game genre may dissuade less adventurous players and relegate this title to a niche audience at a time when Nintendo needs as many players as possible. Nintendo is also creating a new, as yet untitled, Legend of Zelda game in the traditional genre, however, it is not billed for release until 2015.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, that ambiguous release date seemed to be common. Apart from Zelda, Nintendo also announced new games featuring their Kirby and Yoshi brands and a new game called Splatoon, all slated for a 2015 release. While developing a strong base of exclusive AAA titles for the Wii U is essential for increasing interest in the failing console, a lot of games will not be ready for Christmas 2014, when they will be needed most. Though sales of the recently released Mario Kart 8, along with anticipation for the summer release of the next instalment in the Super Smash Brothers franchise, have helped to boost consumer interest in the Wii U, it may turn out to be a case of too little too late.
On the hardware front, Nintendo announced a new product aimed at taking on the likes of the ever popular Skylanders range of toys. Called Amiibo, they are little figurines in the shape of Nintendo characters that each contain a small transmitter and microchip. When a figurine of a character is placed on the Wii U (or on a later-to-be-released pad for the handheld 3DS device) that character is transported into the game, much like Skylanders toys. Achievements that you gain with that character are then stored in the figurine for later use and, unlike Skylanders action figures, which only work in one series of games, characters can be downloaded into a wide range of upcoming Nintendo games.
If sales of the Wii U pick up, the Amiibo brand will most likely succeed on a massive scale. As games with Amiibo functions in them are expected from a wider range of genres, each targeting a different age group, potential demand for Amiibo figurines would be much larger than the 4-to-14 age demographic that Skylanders pursues.
On the show floor, gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer has announced the beta testing of their new smartwatchactivity tracker. Called the Razer Nabu, the black and green band features activity tracking functions, such as calories burned and steps taken, while also including high-end smartphone integration and social media capabilities.
The Nabu also contains short-range communicators, which allow it to talk to other Nabu bands in the vicinity. This allows for the easy sharing of information, like contacts or data, either by simply staying in range or with a much more novel high-five. Only time will tell if Razer has the key to unlocking dominance in the as yet uncontested wearable technology market.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story named Reggie Fils-Aime as the president and CEO of Nintendo America. Fils-Aime is actually the president and COO.