Hi everyone! I just wanted to share these opinions with other Nintendo fans and hopefully generate some discussion.
Small background, I've played games (and mostly Nintendo games) my entire life actively. I'm 24. I grew up with N64 and GameCube era games. I also was a consistent Nintendo fan through the WiiU era and love that system (I prefer many things about it to switch, but ofc I admit the Switch was marketed better and has a stronger library.)
I've followed Nintendo so closely for my entire life that I like to think I've gotten decent at predicting their patterns and habits and I have made many guesses with friends and family that turned out to be true. Some examples are:
-I felt Nintendo would try and replicate the Wii launch with the Switch launch by removing the gamepad features from the new Zelda and having it launch on both systems. (Zelda WiiU eventually got announced to simultaneously launch on WiiU and NX, and it resulted in the WiiU gamepad features being stripped so there would be parity between both versions.)
-I felt Nintendo would capitalize on its consistent success with handhelds and prioritize handheld gaming after the failure of WiiU (I didn't ever guess Switch would be the best of both worlds as a hybrid though, but I was right that they would capitalize on their success in the handheld gaming market.)
-Before 2019 had all of its releases dated/revealed, I guessed correctly that they would try and mirror the success of 3DS in 2012/2013 with a bevy of quality games in key franchises. I remember looking back at those 3DS years (when the console really picked up steam) and seeing that that time period had a new Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, 2D Mario, Luigi's Mansion and 2D Zelda, and I predicted that Nintendo would try to replicate that successful period in 2019. This turned out to be absolutely true as 2019 had Three Houses, Link's Awakening, Luigi's Mansion 3, Mario Maker 2 and, while Animal Crossing was pushed to 2020, it was originally slated for 2019.
Let me of course say that I know I'm not the only one who looks at trends and gets things right. Many people predicted that Zelda U would simul-launch on what was then known as NX. I just wanted to give a few examples of times I was correct, before I got to the point of this thread.
Also, any longtime Nintendo fan knows that, at the end of the day, the only thing you can be 1000% certain about with this company is that you can't ever really predict what they're going to do 100% of the time. Too often they do things from left field, many things that seem nonsensical and many things that no one saw coming. In my opinion, this is simultaneously one of their greatest strengths and weaknesses as a company.
Now, to the point of this thread.
I remember the last two years of WiiU quite well, because tbh, at that point I was a huge fan of my WiiU and was absolutely desperate for new games to play on it. I think most WiiU owners felt largely abandoned during this period, with Splatoon and Xenoblade X being the last two brand new releases that really carried the gravitas of major console exclusives. I did like Star Fox Zero and Tokyo Mirage sessions, but compared to the company's 3DS output, the WiiU lineups felt anemic and announcements were very few and far between.
In hindsight, we can easily point to why the last two WiiU years were so dead: they were putting all of their cards into 2017.
Not only was the Switch coming to hopefully succeed where the WiiU failed, but their 2017 output makes it very clear where the main R&D teams were focusing their efforts. We got something first party from Nintendo 7 months out of that year, and many of thoses releases were amazing new installments in giant franchises (Splatoon 2, Xenoblade 2, Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey.)
I think 2017 was Nintendo's hail mary play to win back consumer faith after the WiiU was so starved for consistent first party releases, and we all saw how well it succeeded. In my opinion, the current success of the Switch over three years later is still due to the momentum they built in 2017.
So now, we get to 2020. Not only has Nintendo had three years full of releasing numerous strong titles from all their various first and second party branches, but the world is going through one of the most difficult years that most of us have experienced in life. (Side note: I know many people are mixed on many of the games released in 2018/2019, but objectively speaking they have released major installments in most of their core franchises, all in the span of three years. Whether you think all those games are amazing or not isn't really my point– it is absolutely mind-blowing compared to WiiU in terms of release quantity.)
So I think that, even before the pandemic, Nintendo probably needed to bide some time to stockpile numerous big releases. I think Animal Crossing was sort of the last leg of their initial strategy of replicating past successes, and because you can't control game development down to a perfect science, I think Nintendo ended up in a position this year where most of their big projects were still cooking and they were going to ride out 2020, which would see the launch of PS5 and Series X, by offering many ports they've been sitting on (Xenoblade, Pikmin 3, probably the 3D Mario collection if it's real.) And I think they were betting strongly that they could ride out the year based on the momentum they've built.
So, that leads to where we are now. First party Nintendo news has come this year, in the form of twitter announcements and the March mini, but I'll be the first to tell you Nintendo is absolutely being way too silent this year. I understand the frustration; I wish they were more transparent too about upcoming plans.
However, I also have a very good memory of the payoff at the end of the WiiU era, and I am personally predicting that Nintendo is utilizing the same info-starvation tactics they used then so that they can blow it out of the water in 2021.
I cannot claim to know what Nintendo has internally scheduled for 2021, but I do believe Breath of the Wild 2 is among them, and set to launch with new hardware early next year. And even if it's not a launch title, I think it will be positioned as close to the upgraded Switch as possible, in an attempt to recapture the launch of BotW on Switch in 2017.
Furthermore, we know Nintendo has tons of branches working on various games right now. They always do, so this is not a bold prediction. We know Intelligent Systems is making a new Fire Emblem (I'm hoping for FE4/FE5 Echoes-style remakes,) we know a new Xenoblade is in the works, a new Kirby game, etc.
I think Nintendo will let the dust settle after the PS5/Series X releases and then take us by storm in 2021, ending this period of info-starvation with so many games that the average consumer won't be able to think straight, and the massive hype they build will carry them strong through a new hardware revision and win back all the positive buzz they're losing right now.
Now, let me just say: I am NOT saying I think it is right to info-starve your consumers. However, I have seen it succeed with the company numerous times now. Consumers hate it when they're in the middle of the silent period, and then they get their minds absolutely blown when the payoffs come. Many people may lose good will meanwhile (I saw this happen for some at the end of the WiiU era,) but for the most part, Nintendo saw how effective it could be, so I am merely stating that I see it as a likely strategy that would explain why they've been so silent this year. I think the pandemic probably just helped give them a reason to keep their cards close to their chest a bit more than they were already planning to.
So don't accuse me of trying to excuse them or defend them, or of trying to downplay a bad year. I am just as frustrated as many with their lack of transparency. All I am doing is pointing to patterns of their info-starvation leading directly to huge success, and making this thread based on that.
Thanks for reading!
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