Going into E3, Nintendo is playing with power. Here’s how it can leverage that to stand out.
Nintendo’s approach to E3 has been the most fascinating to see over the last few years. There was a time when the company was practically synonymous with E3 festivities, but starting this decade, foreseeing the rise of the social media age, Nintendo has started to approach E3 differently than with the pizzaz of a big stage conference. They still have among the biggest and most ornate booths on the showfloor- but their conferences have been replaced by a variety of new formats primed at the digital age, including digital events, Nintendo Directs, and Treehouse showcases.
Every year, they focus on something different entirely- their 2016 E3 historically focused on just one game to the exclusion of everything else (that one game was Breath of the Wild, and the focus paid off, what with Breath of the Wild being awesome, and hype for it directly leading into the Switch launch). This year, they are, again, narrowing the scope of what they present at E3: they’re going to be focusing only on 2018 games, and nothing else. They’ve flat out said that games coming after 2018 will be discussed at a future date- so the possibility of Nintendo actually still having a few surprises that break the schedule seems to be low… right?
In which case, focusing on just 2018 games, how does Nintendo plan to stand out at E3 this year, against competition that includes Microsoft, who have booked an entire theater as showfloor space, and Sony, who are going to be providing deep dives into some very anticipated exclusives?
"Nintendo can have a truly remarkable showing simply focusing on the big releases for 2018."
THEIR 2018 LINEUP ITSELF IS REMARKABLE
There has been the sentiment that Nintendo’s 2018 lineup so far has been lacking. It’s a sentiment that’s understandable- so far, this year, Nintendo hasn’t launched many notable games. They had Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Hyrule Warriors Deluxe Edition– all Wii U ports- as well as Kirby: Star Allies and the Nintendo Labo.
But if that sentiment has an element of truth to it, it no longer holds true going into the second half of this year- the lineup Nintendo has stacked up for the Switch in the back half is truly remarkable. Not counting games like Mario Tennis Aces, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Dark Souls Remastered, Octopath Traveler, The World Ends With You, and Yoshi, Nintendo still has some major heavy hitters lined up- Fire Emblem is due out this year, as is Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee, the latter of which, judging by the mainstream buzz and chatter, is primed to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, games of the year. And, of course, we cannot ignore Super Smash Bros.– which will be the showpiece game Nintendo brings to E3.
All of this, put together, means that Nintendo can have a truly remarkable showing simply focusing on the big releases for 2018. Much like Sony, by focusing only on Death Stranding, Ghosts of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part 2, and Spider-Man, can easily bring the hype, so too can Nintendo simply by giving us better looks at Fire Emblem, Pokemon, and Super Smash Bros. You can bet that those games will be among the standouts for the show by the time all is said and done, too.
THIRD PARTY SURPRISES
While the Switch will never have the kind of universal third party support that the PS4 will, it’s still actually doing remarkably well on that front- and we can expect to see Nintendo lift the curtain on a few more third party surprises on the Switch at E3 this year. Fortnite, of course, is pretty much a given at this point, especially given that even ratings boards have started rating a Switch version of the game, as is Dragon Ball FighterZ, while FIFA 19 is already confirmed. But there can be more- for instance, Bandai Namco has confirmed a Tales game is hitting the Switch, and are rumored to be working on Ridge Racer 8 exclusively for the Switch- potentially we could see those at E3, too. Maybe Rockstar, buoyed by the success of LA Noire on the Switch, will bring over a port of GTA5 on the Switch, complete with GTA Online.
"I am sure Nintendo has some big name third party surprises waiting in the wings for us- and that they will comprise of a not insignificant portion of their E3 show. "
Bethesda has made it clear it intends to have more games out on the Switch- maybe we could get a peek at that. Maybe Ubisoft and Activision have more in the works. Whatever it is, third party announcements on the Switch would be a big deal. Nintendo has the advantage of people not expecting major third party announcements for the system, so even a relatively small confirmation for the console can make waves. Some big caliber confirmations like the ones listed above would actually be pretty major. I am sure Nintendo has some big name third party surprises waiting in the wings for us- and that they will comprise of a not insignificant portion of their E3 show.
SURPRISES BEYOND 2018
Okay, so I know I said Nintendo has made it very clear that it intends to focus only on 2018 games at E3, but the thing is, Nintendo always says these things, but rarely follows through on them. It will schedule a Direct “focusing on Spring games” and then announce a game due out in December or even the next year. Last year’s E3 was supposed to just be a look at “games out in Holiday 2017”, and went on to announce Metroid Prime 4, Yoshi, and Pokemon. We could expect that they may do something like that this year as well.
Imagine announcements for games due out next year- Animal Crossing? Mario Maker? Star Fox Grand Prix, the rumored new game by Retro Studios, maybe? A look at whatever Monolith Soft or Next Level Games are working on?
"Maybe the first look at Metroid Prime 4 will be at E3 this year. Or maybe the first look at Bayonetta 3. Those alone would stop the presses in terms of hype for Nintendo’s show."
Conversely, maybe they could just let us have a look at 2019 games they have already announced. Maybe the first look at Metroid Prime 4 will be at E3 this year. Or maybe the first look at Bayonetta 3. Those alone would stop the presses in terms of hype for Nintendo’s show.
All of which is to say, Nintendo is, thankfully, in a secure enough position with the Switch right now that even by focusing on just upcoming 2018 games, they are in a position to really surprise and delight this year, and put on a good show. Hopefully they do- E3 is best when everyone puts their best foot forward, after all.
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