E3 Rewind: Nintendo’s boring and bizarre E3 2008

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In 2008, Nintendo was on top. The DS and Wii were giant hits. The company had developed a new strategy that targeted audiences that weren’t part of the core gaming demographic. Successes like Wii Sports and Wii Fit showed the viability of that plan.

But at E3 that year, Nintendo displayed the first signs of decline. The company miscalculated, leaning into its blue ocean strategy and showing off a more casual lineup of games while keeping Mario and Zelda away from the proceedings.

The result was a bizarre show. Nintendo opened with a Shaun White snowboarding game that used the Wii Balance Board peripheral and ended with Wii Music, maybe one of Nintendo’s worst first-party games ever. The event did nothing to excite fans.

Jeff Grubb and I decided to watch this show again, almost 13 years after it first aired. We try to make sense of Nintendo’s strategy and have a few good laughs at the company’s expense, especially during that closing Wii Music “concert.” You could see how this would be the company that would eventually release a flop like the Wii U.

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