E3: The annual gaming conference attended by all the big names, jostling for attention to generate excitement for the coming year.
Nintendo enthusiasts can be forgiven for being deflated after the company confirmed its upcoming console — nicknamed the NX — would not be on show at this year’s E3. After previous successes at E3, it seems that Nintendo has given up, letting other developers gain more ground. After the Wii U’s comparative (and completely unfair) failure, this would be a terrible time for a laissez-faire attitude.
With Nintendo's giant E3 space nobody should have a problem playing Zelda…….. pic.twitter.com/cw65NRjR6W
— Stealth (@Stealth___) June 1, 2016
But if we look at the floor plans, Nintendo has bagged more space than Microsoft, and just a little less than Sony. So has the Japanese firm got an ace up its sleeve? How might Nintendo make a big impression at the show?
A Proper Pokémon Celebration
We already know we’ll be getting footage of the much-anticipated Pokémon Sun and Moon, the next instalments in the second-most successful video game franchise. That’ll be hugely exciting for fans, but we’re promised something more. We’ll see Sun and Moon on the first day of E3, with a Pokémon Go Q&A on the second… but the really interesting thing is a Pokémon Special on the third day.
Yep, Nintendo’s really hyping up the gaming giant, but details of what the Pokémon Special will entail are non-existent right now. Something monumental could be pulled out of the bag.
Why’s Pokémon such a big thing? Because it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. We’d love an info-dump about Sun and Moon. The starters have already been revealed, but we’ve only been promised (with tongue in cheek) “more than 10” new Pokémon. The games are likely going to be set in a new tropical region, so we might get a whole new generation, including legendaries.
It’d also be great to see gameplay that takes into account the successes of Pokémon X and Y, and the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes, combining cool new features with suitably-stylized and streamlined graphics.
Side-lining Sun and Moon, however, might Nintendo announce the Western rollout of Pokémon Co-Master, a mobile board game spin-off? Or what about Blue, Red, or Yellow on tablets and smartphones? It’s not likely, but Android and iOS users were duped into downloading a fake version of the latter, so The Pokémon Company knows there’s enough demand!
— K'NEX Mario World (@KNEX_MarioWorld) June 8, 2016
Beyond Pokémon Go, a further Pokémon game would tie into Nintendo’s intention to extend into the mobile arena. Speaking of which…
More Mobile Gaming Announcements
Nintendo has been the go-to brand for family-friendly gaming since its creation, but you might argue it’s struggled to remain relevant against the Xbox and PlayStation. Its 3DS, though, remains a great handheld device, so the company is incorporating smartphone gaming into its business plan.
When Miitomo was announced, shares in Nintendo dropped. It’s simply a social gaming app in which users interact with friends using their Miis. Everyone thought it was a huge mistake.
How wrong they were.
In April, it was revealed that Miitomo has 4 million active users, and 1 million who use the app every day. Even though it’s free, the in-app purchases make Nintendo $40,000 a day. Certainly we enjoyed spending some time on it. Now, we’re excited for Nintendo’s partnership with developer DeNA.
I was thinking of deleting miitomo but then a legend of Zelda promo started??? I guess I have to stay a bit longer WELL PLAYED NINTENDO
— Vivian Ng (@VViiNNG) June 9, 2016
E3 is a great chance for Nintendo to show how, unlike its competitors, it’s embracing the popularity of gaming on smartphones. Indeed, we’re expecting to see at least five Android and iOS games from Nintendo before the end of Q1, 2017. There’s bad news for anyone wanting to play Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on their iPhone, however; Nintendo has previously stated:
“To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, only original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system.”
That doesn’t rule out franchises like Mario, Zelda, or Donkey Kong, though (DeNA has a history of making apps for major franchises, including Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Marvel), so if we got confirmation that one of these will be making their way to our cell phones, Nintendo might steal E3.
Surprise Familiar Faces
For a games company, Nintendo’s slate of titles at E3 is looking a tad sparse. Okay, very sparse. This announcement was the biggest disappointment:
“This June, Nintendo will focus its attentions on the upcoming game in The Legend of Zelda series. The Wii U version of the game will be playable for the first time on the E3 show floor, and it will be the only playable game Nintendo presents at the show, in order to provide attendees a complete immersion.”
The Legend of Zelda is great, and long-awaited… but it doesn’t make up a whole show.
While it’s probable it will be the only playable game, the Nintendo Treehouse will exhibit further games on the second day of E3. Actually, only three games have been confirmed: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for the Wii U; and Monster Hunter Generations and Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past for the 3DS.
Feeling deflated? I don’t blame you.
But wait! Nintendo could pull something big out of its hat. Last year, E3 got everyone excited for Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U and 3DS, so might we see some exclusives this year too? Those three games announced for the Treehouse team aren’t heavy-hitters, and while I can’t see a shock Mario, or even Luigi, game popping up any time soon — certainly not this side of the NX — we might see another popular intellectual property.
Many will be holding out hope for the long-rumored Diddy Kong Racing 2, which was rumored to appear at last year’s show but is now more likely to wait until the NX’s release. It would be great for Nintendo to acknowledge its recent successes, though, and downloadable content (DLC) for Mario Kart 8 would give fans some encouragement.
Tell Us More About the NX
This is the big one, and admittedly, chances of Nintendo lying about the NX not being at E3 are remote. Still, some sort of announcement could make the company stand miles ahead of its competitors.
Who will win #E3 this year?
— #E32016 mode (@julioclip) June 7, 2016
Will we see the console? Very doubtful. But we don’t even know what form it will take right now: it’s been said that the NX isn’t a successor to the Wii U or 3DS; instead, it’s “a new way of playing games,” whatever that means. Production of the Wii U could even continue into 2018, while support for the ever-popular 3DS definitely isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
What do we know? Not much at all. There’s speculation that it’ll be a hybrid of your traditional home console and a handheld unit, and that the controller will also display what’s on the main television screen. These notions sound too similar to the Wii U to have great substance.
Nintendo has announced that the NX will be out, rather strangely, in March 2017, two years after it was initially teased. This strikes me as a bad decision: forget about it being competition for the next generation PlayStation and Xbox in the Christmas market; it won’t even be in the running!
A great amount has to be revealed this year, so here’s hoping Nintendo will shock us all at E3 and generate serious buzz for their next console. We need hardware specifications, please. Tease us with more launch games. We need even the smallest of details — backwards compatibility, or no region lock, for example.
— prometheusRisesAgain (@prometheus50000) May 31, 2016
Frankly, we need something to inspire fans, to make us keep the faith.
I’m hoping a spokesperson says, “we were just joking about the March release date; it’s due out in September.” Cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath.
What Else Might E3 Give Fans?
Nintendo’s future looks uncertain, despite plans that include making movies (fortunately, not live-action ones), a commitment to mobile gaming, and even managing themed cafes and restaurants.
— K'NEX Mario World (@KNEX_MarioWorld) June 1, 2016
Now is not the time to lose Nintendo’s considerable audience by putting in a lackluster performance at E3. And if the company do celebrate Pokémon properly, announce new gaming apps, tease the return of some much-loved IPs, or leak details of the NX, they could blow away Microsoft and Sony.
Aficionados have stayed true to the brand. Nintendo needs to reward that loyalty.
What would you like to see at E3? Have you given up on Nintendo, or is the company stronger than a blip in sales?