Well the upgrade path worked for DSi and New 3DS which were technically superior to the originals, and nobody got alienated.
Look up "SNES games new 3DS only" and read the comments, and you'll see much gnashing of teeth over this.
Nintendo really needs e3 presence once again instead of relying on their Nintendo Direct and Treehouse videos.
I suspect Nintendo knows what they "need" more than we do ... see below for my thoughts
I agree. I don't know why they're letting Sony and Microsoft have it all to themselves. If indeed Zelda Wii U/NX is the only big thing there for them (per their own statement) then they'll easily be overshadowed by Sony's PS4 Neo and VR stuff, and presumably whatever Microsoft's response to the former is (although again, if they have no plans for this year, then they'll likely just try to talk about software, which would also put them in the shadow of Sony).
I don't think they should be at E3, no more than Google or Apple or Blizzard (and probably many others these days) "need" to go to CES. With their own events, they control the narrative, and there's no competition IN THE ROOM for lazy "game journalistic" comparisons. They can show what they want, when they want, in the way that they want.
You know that EDGE, NeoGaf and IGN are going to be writing tons of stories about "who won e3 2016," right? Why would Nintendo set themselves up to be in 3rd place, at best?
This is the time of year I start the cycle of pruning my noisier RSS feeds, because e3 coverage is an uncritical information dump of press releases and impressions from demos. It's so old-world and doesn't really fit in the way many people get their information nowadays.