Nintendo had an extremely strong showing in 2017 with the launch of the Switch. Due in no small part to the major high notes they had from their game development. Both The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey were critically acclaimed and adored by fans. This should not overstate the rest of the games that came out that year either, Splatoon 2, Arms, and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle all performed much better than expected, (Arms not as well sales wise, however the quality and novelty cannot be lost in the lack of sales). Many ports and remasters of old games performed better than they did on the Wii U. So, the general theme this current console generation with Nintendo is all about breathing new life into everything they touch. The Legend of Zelda BotW, Super Mario Odyssey, and even the switch itself are all showing Nintendo’s commitment to getting it right this generation and showing that they are not the company that they showed they were last generation. The games, the hardware, the management all feels new at nintendo, and it is a refreshing change of pace to look at what they have done and see how much progress they have made, the only question now is what are they going to do next?
Nintendo have unveiled some of their plans for the rest of 2018, with Mario Tennis Aces, Super Smash Brothers, and the new Yoshi game. Most years this would be a good year for Nintendo and everyone would be pretty happy with the selection of new games coming. However, this year feels different. There are so many titles without definite release dates that it would feel silly to not have another big title before the year ends, because they have the room this year that they may not have next year. From a business standpoint, Super Smash Brothers is the only big money draw for the entire calendar 2018. And while it was a hardware launch year, there were multiple notable games with two definite, AAA, slam dunk titles, in 2017. 2018 has many notable titles and a slam dunk title in Smash, but there might still be room for one more.
Of the titles definitely in development for the switch without an official confirmed release window, there are: Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, Pokemon, and a new Fire Emblem game. Those are just what Nintendo is developing and it is almost definite that there are a few more titles being prepared to be announced at this year’s E3 (Including a rumored new horror game from retro studios!). However, Not all of those games would be able to release in 2019, the release windows would be too small and the games could cannibalize the sales of one another. So one would have to release this year, which one could it be though?
The leading candidates for the second AAA title this year recently have been Fire Emblem and Pokemon. Fire Emblem has been announced as a 2018 game, however there has been very little information since then, leading to some worry. Also, Fire Emblem is not quite the system seller of the same level of Smash, Zelda, and Mario. So could a delay be more favorable to put it in a weaker time with less ambitious games, or at least less of those games then. It certainly would make sense, less competition for a lesser known title that has grown recently but not quite to the same level as other potential holiday products. Which leads to Pokemon, there have been listings of a 2018 release or later, there have also been rumblings of new pokemon information coming soon with leaks and (admittedly) farfetch’d theories of site arranging and cleaning up of direct links possibly leading to an announcement. This could be the potential blockbuster hit that Nintendo wants to get out the door before 2019 rolls around and that slate of announced and unannounced games starts coming, it will be tough to fit it in.
“But it’s April? When are they going to release it?” I hear you asking in the comments. And, that answer is actually surprisingly simple, November. We live in a world where we could possibly get both a brand new Smash Brothers and a brand new Pokemon generation in the same year. With the early announcement of Smash it is likely that it is one of the games furthest along, so it will more than likely be released first. There is also another perfect window of opportunity for this game to come out and perform well too. That is the August-September months. It is a little bit of hedging. However there is a strong indication that this is the sweet spot for when we can expect the new Smash Brothers game. The new Nintendo paid online service launches this year with the now standard form of subscribing before gaining access to online features. This is a perfect time to launch Smash alongside this new service. Launching it late summer will give it enough time to be digested by the consumer and let them be ready for the other major title in Pokemon, which will be ready by November so it can be on shelves ready for the holiday season.
Or, Smash could be the big November reveal, Yoshi and Fire Emblem could be the late summer releases to fill that gap, and Pokemon could come in 2019 and I could be writing this same article next year and be proved wrong yet again. But this is Nintendo, they are absolutely crazy and could do something like release Smash tomorrow, (which would TOTALLY break the internet if it did happen) and fill in the gaps with something else. The point here is Nintendo seems to have its groove back, they put their best foot forward last year with the release and support of the switch. This year i think they are ready to take another big step forward and continue the massive amount of momentum that they gained last year and, most importantly, for the first time in a long time, it is exciting to be a Nintendo fan again.
Don’t see the world for what it appears to be, see the world for what it could be.