Nintendo at E3 2016
Look, no one is going to argue that Nintendo had its best showing last year. It unveiled a Metroid game that no one asked for – actually leading some gamers to create a petition to have the project canned – and rewarded attendees with a demo of the less-than-appealing revamp of the Star Fox franchise.
It’s harsh to call Nintendo’s E3 2015 performance a flop but, well, it’s hard to describe it any other way. I’m not trying to criticize Nintendo for last year’s performance (OK, maybe I am a little), but really it’s just my way of showing my favorite publisher some tough love.
I’m optimistic that the Big N, even under new management, can show up to this year’s tradeshow head held high and with the games that will remind fans why our New Nintendo 3DS isn’t quite ready to join the PlayStation Vita and Xbox One Kinect in our closets just yet.
That’s because Nintendo has everything it needs to win back gamers this year: two new Pokemon games and The Legend of Zelda title we’ve waited patiently for since Skyward Sword came out in 2011. That’s like walking into a baseball game knowing that you’re going to hit two grand slams that night.
Any other year and I’d say those two franchises alone would be enough to carry Reggie Fils-Aime and his crew to the top of the Nintendog pile. But with new hardware from both Sony and Microsoft looming somewhere in the near future, the team from Kyoto needs at least one more title – or piece of hardware – to claim the top spot.
Don’t play coy, confirm the Nintendo NX
Look Nintendo, don’t keep us guessing. You’ve had over a year to show off the Nintendo NX, and instead of treating fans to a strongly worded statement about the console or when we’ll finally get all the details, you’ve merely glazed over it at investor calls.
You’ve told us that the system will launch in March 2017, and that was appreciated. You’ve said that it’s going to be different entirely from the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems and, thanks to your partners, we have some idea of what games we can expect.
But the vast majority of what’s been said hasn’t been directed towards us. The information has been used as a sort of scapegoat to get out of hot water with investors. And I know you need investors. Who doesn’t? But investors don’t buy the millions of systems you need to turn a profit, fans do.
I’m not even asking you to show off the finalized unit (though, that’s not a bad idea either), all I’m asking is that you confirm that there’s a new system and put a date on when we’ll learn more about it.
If your big reveal is going to come during a surprise event during your Nintendo Direct on Tuesday morning, great. If not, at least give us a date we can mark down in our calendars that we’ll get the final details.
Call in the bannermen … er, third-party publishers
Part of the reason Nintendo had a lackluster showing at last year’s Expo was simply because, for the last few years, the company’s had to do everything for itself.
When you look back at the last three years of releases on the Wii U, nearly every well-received title has come from an in-house development team – Splatoon, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Maker, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, the list goes on. All of them came from Nintendo.
The point I’m making here is that Nintendo’s been fighting a war these past few years without any allies. While third-party developers have cranked out hits like Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4 and a half dozen Assassin’s Creed games for the Xbox One and PS4, the same developers have been reluctant to commit resources to Nintendo’s living room hardware.
That needs to change.
One publisher alone can’t fill an entire catalog of titles, even if that developer is as talented as Nintendo is.
With a new console on the horizon now is the time to ask Sega to create more wacky IPs like Super Monkey Ball or Mad World, or convince Capcom that Viewtiful Joe still has a place on Nintendo consoles. Nintendo once had strong partnerships that have since diminished into nothing, and it’s high time to reforge those bonds.
Until Nintendo convinces these third-party publishers to return to the Wii U, the system is stuck in a negative feedback loop in which the lack of games is stopping potential customers from picking the Wii U over the PS4 and Xbox One, and the lack of customers is stopping developers from making new games for the system.
Finish big on the Wii U and load up the New Nintendo 3DS
Right, enough on the Nintendo NX and third-party developers. Let’s face it, if Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima wants to show off the NX, he will. If not, he’s running the risk of getting drowned out later this year by the PS4.5 (Neo) and/or Microsoft’s slimline Xbox One.
Thankfully, however, the NX isn’t the only console with a Nintendo logo on it – the company has two systems, the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS that could change radically depending on what happens Tuesday morning.
If all goes well – and by well I mean that Nintendo shows off at least a handful of titles for the WIi U besides Zelda and another few games besides Pokemon Sun and Moon – it could be back on track to reestablishing itself as a major contender in the console wars.
While Kimishima has said that he plans on supporting the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS after the release of the NX, history tells us that console-makers typically release a small handful of games after a new system comes out, most of which are down-rezzed ports of the better looking games coming to the new console.
My advice is to finish this console lifecycle strong with four or five more first-party titles and a half-dozen third-party titles before pulling out all the stops for the NX coming later next year.
Not only will a strong finish boost Nintendo’s financial outlook in 2016, but it could be a great moral booster for anyone eyeing the Nintendo NX in 2017 that the House that Mario Built still has it.
You can catch Nintendo’s E3 Direct Digital Event starting on Tuesday at 9am PT, 12 pm ET and 5 pm BT, and of course catch all the E3 news as it happens right here.