If you’re interested in upcoming Nintendo Switch games, Nintendo’s got you covered.
Nintendo of America (NTDOY) president Reggie Fils-Aime and a number of developers introduced a slew of new and previously announced Switch titles during its brief Nintendo Spotlight online event at the annual E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles. While other companies put on lengthy, lavish media briefings in cavernous event halls, Nintendo once again streamed a simple, pre-taped online video detailing some of the big games coming to its fast-selling home console.
But for all its pop, Nintendo left some of the biggest consumer concerns about their complex ecosystem and business interests unanswered. Here’s what we learned — and what we didn’t.
It’s a Mario world
The biggest game in Nintendo’s upcoming stable, “Super Mario Odyssey,” got the star treatment. Due out October 27, the next game from the portly plumber is a densely-packed adventure that eschews the side-scrolling flavor of recent “Mario” games in favor of the large, explorable sandbox environments that made games like “Super Mario Galaxy” and “Super Mario 64” instant classics.
Mario will also feature prominently in the bizarre mash-up “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle,” a goofy slice of tactical strategy that somehow squeezes Ubisoft’s Rabbid characters into Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom. Other Switch games coming out this year include the massive role-playing title “Xenoblade Chronicles 2,” kid-friendly ink-shooter “Splatoon 2,” action-packed brawler “Fire Emblem Warriors,” competitive Pokemon fighting game “Pokken Tournament DX” and two downloadable content packs for “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Despite little info beyond a title card, undoubtedly the game that will get the most chatter is “Metroid Prime 4.” Unfortunately, the long-awaited next entry in Nintendo’s beloved action-adventure series doesn’t yet have a release date. New Switch games based on “Yoshi”, “Kirby” and “Pokemon” won’t be out until 2018.
Nintendo also plans to continue supporting esports with tournaments based on “Pokken Tournament,” “ARMS” and “Splatoon 2.” News about a potential remake of the company’s biggest esport, the aging “Super Smash Bros. Melee,” was MIA.
A pretty small party
While the core Nintendo fanbase will undoubtedly be pleased by the steady drip of Nintendo franchises, the company did little to change the conversation about its slow rollout of third-party offerings.
Switch versions of “FIFA 18,” “Rocket League” and “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” are crowd-pleasers, but Nintendo has once again distanced itself from noisy (and lucrative) franchises like “Assassin’s Creed,” “Call of Duty” and “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” If you want to play those kinds of games, you’ll need to invest in another system.
But Fils-Aime isn’t too worried about that.
“Certainly when you look at ‘FIFA 18,’ ‘Skyrim,’ ‘NBA 2K,’ third-party content is coming to the platform,” he told Yahoo. “But Nintendo is on a journey, and that journey is propelled by first-party content.”
That’s certainly true, but Nintendo’s lukewarm relationship with companies like Activision, Take 2 Interactive and Warner Bros. is often a focus when hardware sales stall out. That’s not yet the case with the Switch (Nintendo can’t keep it on shelves), but it’s undoubtedly a concern for those interested in owning a system that can play both first-party games and huge third-party franchises.
Fils-Aime, however, sees third-party games in more of a support role.
“Both Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) have spent a lot of money to be first with DLC and things of that nature, but I wonder if that’s truly driving hardware,” he said. “Versus as a consumer saying ‘I want to buy into the Switch’ and then ask, ‘where’s my FIFA, where’s my NBA 2K, etc.’
“We view the role of first-party software as what needs to drive the install base. And if we do that effectively, we create an opportunity and environment for fantastic third-party content.”
Nintendo is also staying in its lane in regards to the buzzy world of virtual reality. While Sony is doubling down with its PSVR headset and Microsoft endlessly tinkers with Hololens, Fils-Aime remains unconvinced it’s worth the effort at the moment.
“To date, I still have not seen anything that is a “wow” on the fun scale or a “wow” on the social scale.” he said. “Do I think the content gets better and better? I do. I think the tech gets better and better, but I think the tech is also getting more and more expensive. And from a Nintendo perspective, that’s a challenge.”
“We are mainstream. We believe in consumers from 5 to 95 engaging in our content. So, when the technology starts to be more exclusive from a pricing standpoint, that’s just not as interesting to us. So, I do believe there is going to be a time and place for VR. I just don’t know if it’s here yet. Personal opinion? I think AR will succeed before VR.”
Of course, Nintendo had a hand in the most successful alternate reality game ever in “Pokemon Go,” but there’s still no word on that game’s follow-up just yet.
Nintendo kept quiet with regards to a potential follow-up to its hit plug-and-play NES Classic Edition. Despite glowing praise from critics and rabid fan response, the company unceremoniously stopped production on the unit in April. Rumors have flown about a Super Nintendo version, but the company hasn’t given us any information one way or another.
Nintendo also avoided talk of other significant topics like its handheld 3DS line during the 30-minute Spotlight event. And while 3DS games will be on display during the show itself (including “Metroid: Samus Returns,” a 3DS reimagining of the Game Boy classic), doing sends sends a dubious message. News about the formal launch of the Switch’s online network, now pushed back to 2018, was also left out, along with any sort of new bundle or pricing options for Nintendo hardware.
It’s a bit unusual — competing hardware companies often use E3 as a launchpad for huge announcements (Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X just two days prior) — but Nintendo has always followed its own playbook for outlining its vision. Here’s hoping they’ll reveal a few more pages soon.
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Ben Silverman is on Twitter at ben_silverman.