E3 Pre-Show Thoughts: Nintendo

With E3 less than 50 days away, I thought I'd go ahead and get ahead on some of my E3 coverage this year. Usually I do my prediction list, and last year I added on by actually grading the conferences, so this year I decided to take it up a notch and do individual expectation lists each presentation. For each potential presenter I'll be talking about what I expect to see there and why, with a bit of commentary in-between about how I think the shows will go. I'm going all out with prediction list, so if I'm full of shit everyone can call me on it after the shows if they remember. We'll go ahead and kick things off with Nintendo, a company that...well...just hit the jump so we can get into it.

Does it matter? Does it really matter what I say here? I feel like Nintendo, with each passing day, makes decisions so polarizing that you're either perpetually holding up a metaphorical middle finger to everything they do, or you're the uber-evangelist nutcase, preaching on the corner of the greatness of Super Mario, hoping to proselytize as many people as possible.

At best the most ambivalence you can manage is ignoring them outside of the brief time they appear in your newsfeed/timeline. Most recently that's been difficult however--as Nintendo just announced not only that the N-X wouldn't be debuting this fall, but wouldn't even be making an appearance at E3 but rather do a premiere later in the year. This information is puzzling, if not downright befuddling, and the best any of us can do is armchair it as if we're somehow in the offices.

If you're looking at the information as it's been presented to us so far, there's a few different conclusions we can come to here. For one thing, notice that Nintendo didn't just outright push it into the holiday of next year, the ideal time to launch a console. Instead they pushed it to the utter edge of the fiscal year for a launch in March. It's not the worst time of the year to launch a system to be fair--it's not too far off from income tax season so the casuals (if Nintendo's still capable of getting them) might be willing to drop down $3-400 for a new console. So all the people assuming that Nintendo is going to fall flat on their face just for daring to launch in March are probably wrong.

At the same time...there's really no reason to delay the unveiling. E3 is so big that there's an entire culture around it for gamers. Core gamers take days off from work just to enjoy the show, and Twitch and YouTube streams alike fill up with viewers eager to see what new things are releasing in the years to come. Most of the major games launch in the holidays, but E3 is the real Gaming Christmas, because the only thing as good as actually getting the games you want, is the anticipation that comes with seeing trailers ABOUT the games you want. So yeah, Nintendo CAN totally do their own event and get a ton of eyeballs onto it that way without having to share the news cycle with anyone else. But for what? Unlike the rumored PS4K which is a stopgap measure for core gamers who don't want to just suck it up and buy a PC, or the VR stuff which will be looked at as gimmicks until consoles come at launch with native support for them, the N-X is a legitimate brand-new system. Some say it's the start of Gen 9, and while that's up for debate, the point here is that eyes are already going to be on Nintendo.

So why delay? There's no way for any of us to truly know, but my guess? They're trying to lockdown one, or multiple exclusives. Core gamers have long memories, and most of us remember how Nintendo promised so much support for the Wii U only for it to gradually fizzle out as sales didn't roll in as they expected. This time, hopefully, Nintendo is lining up as much proper support as possible. No more vague, enormous powerpoint slides emblazoned with dozens of logos. No, this time they're going to back this up with actual GAMES and a launch and launch window line-up that will hopefully drag the core gamers away from their PS4s and their XB1s and to the stores to buy an N-X.

And yeah I know, I didn't talk about what E3 things Nintendo might have this year. They said Zelda, so I'm thinking that, more Pokemon Sun and Moon information, and MAYBE a few surprise games to throw us off guard, along with a reveal of a heftier mobile slate to close things out. Nothing to write home about, but the Nintendo faithful will doubtlessly find a way nonetheless.

So, this whole post was written the day the initial N-X news popped up, but since then even more news has hit to continue Nintendo's trend of being the most polarizing company in gaming. I was completely, utterly wrong with that last paragraph. When Nintendo said they would just show Zelda, apparently they REALLY meant it--the only thing happening for them next month at E3 is an extended Nintendo Treehouse segment which will show off The Legend of Zelda.

Which is...strange. Because there IS a new set of Pokemon games coming out this November. And they HAVE talked about mobile games, and since they've clearly given up on the Wii U this year they NEED to sell those and should probably just start hyping them now. But apparently nothing other than Zelda, a game that isn't even releasing until next year, matters. I'm starting to feel as if Nintendo needs a new mission statement. "Nintendo: Because fuck you, that's why." Would that play well to kids?

Maybe bring this back, only instead of "Seal of Quality" have "Because fuck you, that's why."


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