Why Nintendo’s Decision to Solely Demo Zelda at E3 Was a Smart Move

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I was extremely frustrated with Nintendo when it announced its plans to show only one playable game at their booth during E3 2016. I have always felt that Nintendo, a company with tons of potential, chooses to hold itself back.” Even if that one game was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the newest title in my favorite series, I did not feel as if it would be enough to be enough to satisfy fans. After I attended E3 2016 and experienced the Zelda demo myself, my opinion has changed to a certain degree.

Nintendo has a lot to offer, whether it be tangible or what has yet to come, and always has. With the Nintendo NX, their new and upcoming console, it would have made sense for the company to show off the system and its new games. Unfortunately, Nintendo chose not to. It decided that the new Zelda title demanded enough attention that it deserved to have nearly an entire booth at the largest video game trade show in the world dedicated to it. They were not completely wrong.


This was the end of the line to the Breath of the Wild demo. It was much longer than what is pictured here.

To clarify, there are two different sides to E3. There are the press conferences, which Nintendo has reduced to digital streams in past years, and then there are the three days that follow. The first day is when the show floor opens up and E3 officially kicks off. In its presentation, Nintendo had all that time to shown what else was in store shown as many games as it has in store while following with Zelda. It still streamed news about Tokyo Mirage Seasons #FE and Pokémon: Sun and Pokémon: Moon among other titles during Nintendo Treehouse Live, but when it came to playable demos, it had to give the show floor to Breath of the Wild.

Perhaps the biggest reason I empathize with Nintendo is because of my journey I took to arrive at the Breath of the Wild demo. As sure as I am that people at home were excited about the new Zelda, being at E3 helped me fully appreciate the enthusiasm for it because the line to play the demo was insane. It filled up each day in the very moment the show floor had opened. From the very end of the line, it was a three-hour wait. I know this because waiting in that line was the first thing I did during each day of E3.


The red line represents queue for the Zelda demo.

Even with all of the kiosks inside of the booth, it was hard for staff to accommodate the number of people waiting to play. I did not think to count at the time, but I think there were probably forty Wii U stations for E3 attendees to use; maybe even that was not enough. I imagine if Nintendo had made room for other demos, there would have to be less space for Zelda. Nintendo placed a lot of faith in one game, and it was right to do so, but it was still unprepared for the response Breath of the Wild received. If Nintendo had decided to add even more demo stations, they probably would have needed to sacrifice their displays at their booth.

20160614_141322While waiting in line at E3, I had the opportunity to personally speak with Rick Swierk of 3D Exhibits, who has been responsible with the construction of Nintendo’s displays at E3 in past years. He could not speak too much about the business side of things, but he did voice his opinion that Nintendo’s booth at E3 2016 was its most impressive by far. The different pieces of the display were constructed at several locations and brought together. The lighting in the booth worked in conjunction with the sound to simulate the passage of time and weather. Nintendo went all out; there were also simulated smells.


I was nearly eaten by a Bokoblin. It was terrifying.

Social media was splattered with Breath of the Wild content and tags for several days since Nintendo released its trailer on the first day of E3 2016. At home and at the show, people were understandably excited. I would not go so far as to say Nintendo won E3, not against companies that brought all their best efforts, but I will say that Zelda won against what was present. It was one of the most searched, tweeted, and awarded games of the show this year.

ZeldaE3CoverageWhile Nintendo did pull some success from their presentation this year, but the company could have done more. It is disappointing that it did not choose to debut the trailer in the theater. I am sure the reaction of the audience would have been on par with the Twilight Princess reveal from years back. Instead, I just heard people talking about it among themselves as I watched it from my tiny, cracked laptop screen. Nintendo also missed an opportunity to feature the demo on the NX, but as mentioned earlier, they decided to put that on hold.

It was not a perfect show for Nintendo; however, its approach to E3 is part of what makes it such a unique game company. It demoed a single game and still had people turn their heads in surprise, including some that have long ignored both Nintendo and the Zelda series. I will continue to argue that Nintendo should step up their game in terms of content at future shows, but credit is truly given where it is due. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild stole E3 2016, and I could not be more excited for its release in the future.


About Author

Garrett's first Zelda game was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which he first played at the ripe age of four. Since then, he has made it his mission to save Hyrule and other lands until the end of time.

  • Jewelwriter Moonstar

    As a Nintendo gamer, I honestly felt this was a great conference and yet I would probably be the first here to say that if you guys talk about the NX then you are so far into the unknown since we really got no official announcement (which is the only way it will be settled) and also that I’m one of the people who enjoyed LAST years E3 and what it showed. I will laugh at you for thinking otherwise and will not be sad that we didn’t get more information about what the competition wants for Nintendo has shown it can survive the worst of what news media and other creators wanted to do it: Try to force Nintendo to their knees by money. (after all… they are still in the green over the others.)