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Nintendo abandons E3 keynote

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One of the tentpole events of E3 won't be taking place this year.

Nintendo shocked the gaming world late Wednesday by announcing that it has decided not to hold its annual E3 press conference. Instead, the company said, it plans to focus on smaller events and will address the gaming world through a series of Nintendo Direct broadcasts, essentially cutting out the large, noisy middleman.

It's news no one was expecting and raises all sorts of questions about what Nintendo has in store for this year's premiere gaming convention. While Microsoft and Sony will hold large-scale events to tell the world more about their next-generation consoles, Nintendo has already launched their new system.

Onlookers had expected the company to shine the spotlight on its year-two game lineup -- which, traditionally, is a much stronger slate of titles than those that accompany any new system. And with a new Mario Kart, a new 3D Mario action game (made by the team behind Super Mario Galaxy) and a new Zelda title in the works, Nintendo has plenty to show.

Those titles will be on the show floor, but won't get the big roll out some of their predecessors have enjoyed. While major moments like those cost equally major money, they do help build buzz around upcoming big games.

Reaction to the announcement was largely one of confusion and disappointment, so much so that Nintendo of America felt the need to step in and reassure fans that the company was not ceding the show to its competitors.

"We will have a strong line-up of beloved franchise experiences available for immediate hands-on play," the company said in a statement. "We are continuing to consider exciting new ways to bring the news of our games and information directly to the players at home during the E3 timeframe, and will have more to say about that at a later date."

While the move does risk irking some of the media that go to E3, it's one that makes sense financially.

Nintendo Direct broadcasts have allowed the company to make big game announcements at any time the company chooses without the expensive pomp and circumstance that goes with a media event. It loses the audible whooping and applause that are a mainstay of Nintendo press events, but Nintendo seems confident that, as judged by the viewer numbers for those Direct events, its customers are just as (if not more) engaged with the company without the big stage.

It’s also understandable considering the glut of hardware news expected to rule headlines during the run up to E3. In addition to new console news from Sony and Microsoft, Apple is holding its annual WWDC conference the same week as E3, kicking off on June 10 -- one day before Nintendo’s usual time slot. Considering that conference sold out in two minutes, it stands to reason that any game-related Nintendo news would likely get lost in the shuffle.

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