As we draw closer to this year’s E3 conference, Nintendo is in the perfect position to build on the strength of its many accomplishments throughout 2017. With sales of its new hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch, outperforming the company’s own predictions, and as Nintendo hype continues to dominate wider media headlines, Nintendo has a chance to shine brighter than ever before.
I’ve been a Nintendo fan all my life, so it’s no surprise that I’ve found myself in yet another position where I’m having to justify my purchase of a new Nintendo console—this time the Nintendo Switch. I have to frequently defend criticisms that “it’s nothing more than a glorified Zelda machine,” while others will dismiss titles such as the recently released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as nothing more than “kids games.”
The fact is: if you’re over the age of 16 and still dismissing Nintendo’s video games as nothing more than childlike, there’s a big chance you’re missing out on some of the best games that are currently available.
It’s a shame that series such as Pokémon, Mario Kart and Pikmin won’t get played by many gamers because they boast the same charm and appearance you’d expect from a Saturday morning run of cartoon shows. It’s a shame that the fastest-selling Mario Kart title and a Zelda game so fantastic it’s outselling the Nintendo Switch console itself won’t be experienced by some gamers because they think the Nintendo Switch isn’t worth their time.
All Eyes Are on Nintendo
As stories such as the above continue to show that Nintendo is better placed than it has been in a long, long, time—as do the recent financials revealed earlier last week in which Nintendo announced the now-discontinued NES Classic Edition had shipped over 2.3 million units in its short lifespan and the Nintendo Switch has outperformed the predictions of many industry analysts—I eagerly await to hear what they have planned as part of this year’s E3.
E3 is the biggest gaming event of the year and will take place June 13-15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The last time Nintendo held a traditional press conference at E3 was in 2012. Instead, Nintendo has spent the last five years fine-tuning the format of their Nintendo Direct presentations and their Treehouse streams, so while Nintendo won’t hold a large press conference in the traditional sense, you can bet they’ve got something very special planned.
Will Nintendo Continue to Deliver?
Or, at least, I hope so. The truth of the matter is, Nintendo has already announced its biggest games—we’re just waiting to hear more about them. We’ve had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we’ve had Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and we’ve still got two more first-party titles to come very shortly in the form of Arms: an upcoming fighting game set to release in June, and Splatoon 2: the sequel to Nintendo’s well-received first person shooter for the Wii U.
If we compare the six-month launch window for the Nintendo Switch to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the quality of Nintendo’s first-party software line-up unarguably blows both consoles out of the water. There’s no question about it. Unfortunately, for all of the potential Switch owners who are still on the fence about a purchase, there’s more detail needed on the third-party titles we can expect to see.
E3 would be the perfect time to tell us more and keep up the fantastic momentum they’ve been celebrating so far.
While Microsoft could definitely be doing more to secure more exclusive titles outside of any expected new entries into the Halo, Gears of War or Forza franchises, Sony continues to invest in some fantastic studios who are delivering an army of top-quality titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier Automata, God of War, Days Gone and so many more. The PlayStation 4 is a powerhouse for single-player experiences at the moment. Nintendo must ensure they continue to invest in studios that can deliver titles at the same pace and of the same quality as Sony’s partners.
I’m positive that Nintendo’s software announcements will hold their own against the majority of titles announced for the Xbox One—Microsoft certainly has a lot of work to do there. By focusing their attention on graphical fidelity rather than securing decent software as they move closer to revealing more information about their next console, Scorpio, a best-case scenario as far as Nintendo is concerned holds enough power to sway any lost confidence surrounding Xbox owners into picking up a Switch.
Where’s the Third-Party Software We Were Promised?
Jump back to March time, and you’ll remember seeing the above image circulating pretty much everywhere online. Sega, Konami, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, EA, Activision, From Software and Ubisoft: these are all big names, and they’re all working on games for the Nintendo Switch.
While we know what some of these companies are up to (EA has already confirmed they’re working on a FIFA game for the console, as one example), I hope the support of these studios comes in the form of something special. Titles such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Rocket League will help shift Switch units, but the versatility of the Nintendo Switch means both parties could benefit from unique software.
That means more than just another Just Dance game from Ubisoft. That means more than just a five-year-old port of Skyrim from Bethesda. My fear with the Nintendo Switch is that the strength of its first-party titles alone won’t be enough for Nintendo to prove its naysayers wrong; and it certainly won’t be enough to convince new owners—many of whom might have never tried a Nintendo console before—that this may be the best console experience currently out there.
If there’s ever a time for Nintendo to flex its muscles, it’s when all eyes are on the company during E3. More than that, it’s a time for Nintendo to place itself as the innovative company doing something new with your favorite franchises.
“Show Me Ya Moves!”
Nintendo continues to demonstrate its learned from previous mistakes. The versatility of Nintendo’s new console—one which is able to switch seamlessly between handheld, tabletop and a big screen mode—means there’s never been a console more suited to meet the demands of a modern gaming audience.
But only time will tell if they’ve learned to put their intellectual property to good use. Franchises such as Metroid, F-Zero and Mother continue to sit dormant, for no other reason I can think of than Nintendo is simply waiting for the perfect time to announce them. Surely, that perfect time is this year’s E3? Especially with titles such as Fast Racing RMX and the soon-to-be-released Wipeout Omega Collection for the PS4 proving there’s a market for futuristic racers.
E3 demonstrates the perfect time for Nintendo to prove they’re showing no signs of slowing down; the perfect time to show that they listening to their fans and recognize the needs of their consumer base. The surprise announcement of the Mini NES Classic Edition and the recent rumors that a SNES Classic Edition is in production show that Nintendo does indeed recognize the demand for their past releases.
With so many fans crying out for a new Metroid game, and the potential strength this franchise has to engulf its players in a dark and gritty, innovative first-person experience unlike anything else currently available on the Switch, Nintendo could secure the future success of the Switch quite easily at E3 by showcasing titles that show a darker, more mature side to the software currently available.
Do Nintendo Fans Expect Too Much?
It’s difficult to keep your expectations grounded in reality when there’s so much potential news that Nintendo could announce. It’s difficult to not disappointed by sub-par Nintendo Direct events announcing some a string of 3DS titles we’ve never heard of, when deep down, what we’re truly wondering is: when the hell is Nintendo going to release a huge, open-world Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch?
It may not be this year and it may not be the year after, either. Thankfully, 2017 has already been a phenomenal year for Nintendo so far, and I’m hopeful that in the midst of news for already-announced releases such as Fire Emblem, Xenoblade and Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo will realize its own strength to position itself at E3 as a force to be reckoned with alongside the likes of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles.
While Nintendo fans such as myself will continue to invest in new titles as they become available for the Switch, if Nintendo dares to do different and throw in some surprise announcements that no one was expecting—especially where third-party support is concerned—it could win some new fans in the process and ultimately secure the success of the Switch for years to come. Here’s hoping.
So How Does Nintendo Win?
While Nintendo fans such as myself will continue to invest in new titles as they become available for the Switch, if Nintendo dares to do different and throw in some surprise announcements that no one was expecting—especially where third-party support is concerned—it could win some new fans in the process and ultimately secure the success of the Switch for years to come.
Nintendo doesn’t have a duty to do so, but it should recognize that the expectations of seeing franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Assassins Creed on the Switch are to be expected, and with the benefits of the Switch’s portability, they would make great additions to an already fantastic software lineup.
And please, Nintendo, acknowledge the demand for your extensive back catalogue of classics. Super Metroid, Mario 64, Super Mario World: these are games myself and many more Nintendo fans would rush to purchase.
For a company that has recently done so much to rectify and build on the mistakes it's made in the past, please realize that there is so much to gain from the inclusion of Netflix and other streaming apps on the Nintendo Switch that have become an expected necessity on the majority of devices.
By daring to be different, the Nintendo Switch is perfectly positioned to hold its ground against Sony and Microsoft’s current and future consoles. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t look to the competition from time to time for ideas on how to improve.
I’m confident that Nintendo’s newfound maturity is a result of doing just that. Their recent foray into the mobile market is one such sign of a new Nintendo—one that’s finally with the times and recognizes the needs of an ever-evolving gaming market. As the Japanese giant continues to go from strength to strength, a string of shock, surprise announcements around this year’s E3 might be enough to push them to center stage.