When Nintendo said last month that the new Legend of Zelda game will be the focus of its E3 2016 presentation, the company meant it. Not only will Zelda be the only Nintendo game on the show floor, but it seems Nintendo won't be airing a Nintendo Direct video presentation about any of its upcoming games.
Nintendo outlined its E3 plans in a press release distributed on May 5. The press release, which is posted on Nintendo's press site and is therefore password-protected, makes no mention of a Nintendo Direct video presentation.
To be clear, there's nothing on the press release blatantly stating Nintendo won't have a Nintendo Direct presentation at this year's E3 (we reached out to Nintendo for confirmation one way or the other, but at the time of this writing, we haven't received a response). However, the press release states Nintendo will kick off its E3 show at 9 a.m. PT on June 14, during which Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime will introduce a Nintendo Treehouse: Live dedicated to the new Legend of Zelda title.
According to the release, "This will be the world’s first in-depth look at the game, which will also include commentaries by Nintendo developers." The presentation will be viewable on Nintendo's Twitch and YouTube channels, as well as Nintendo's E3 site, which is already decorated for the occasion (notice the Sheikah symbol in the loading graphic? Hmmm).
This appears to be one of those instances where silence speaks volumes.
On one hand, it's not surprising. When Nintendo confirmed we won't see the NX or any of its games at E3 2016, that automatically lopped a lot of content from its potential presentation. Like a Venusaur storing energy for a Solar Beam attack, Nintendo is seemingly "skipping a turn" to blast us with a barrage of NX news on its own terms (e.g. at its own NX reveal, which is supposed to happen sometime later this year).
It's still disappointing to learn we probably won't see an E3-centric Nintendo Direct this year, though. People were understandably surprised when Nintendo first proposed the live video broadcast in lieu of a traditional presentation at LA's Nokia Theatre in 2013. There was doubt the company would be able to compete with Sony and Microsoft's E3 press conferences.
The 2013 show had some connectivity issues, but the subsequent 2014 and 2015 broadcasts generated a lot of excitement. Stuffy lists of statistics and sweaty live presentations of games gave way to jokes and puppet shows. Even if you believe the content was lacking in Nintendo's 2015 E3 presentation, you can't argue we're richer for having witnessed the antics of Muppet versions of Miyamoto, Iwata, and Fils-Aime.
But to be fair to Nintendo, it doesn't have a lot of time for goofy fun right now. It's at an important crossroads, and a wrong turn can mean big problems. Right now, Nintendo feels sealed-up and silent, but not in a bad way. There's no mistaking that it's very hard at work, and E3 extravagance will have to wait.
"But what's more important than E3?"
Quite a bit at this juncture. E3 isn't dying, but it's slimming down. In fact, the success of the Nintendo Direct E3 presentations are golden proof that not all hype is gestated in an auditorium full of journalists. Nintendo's downsized E3 presence isn't ideal, but if it had to happen, this is a good year in which to trim the fat.
All that said, there's still one big question mark remaining: Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. It looks like these mysterious Nintendo 3DS titles -- which Nintendo is doubtlessly hoping will make it some cash this holiday season -- won't show up at E3 2016 either.
Seems we can expect news about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon early next week, however. Nintendo will probably parse out information about the games on its own schedule, much like how it intends to handle its NX reveal.
No matter what happens, Nintendo is always going to be Nintendo. It's a frustrating time to be a Nintendo fan, but it's also an exciting one.