So I woke up this morning to a text from a friend who had already seen Nintendo’s big news that broke overnight. Knowing that I typically write at night and publish the following morning, all he said was “I think I know what tonight’s topic will be.”
I loaded up Twitter to see what had happened overnight, but it wasn’t immediately apparent which story he was referring to. Nintendo had announced on an investor’s call with little to no fanfare that the NX, its next console, will be launching in March of next year. Alongside that news, they also told us that Zelda Wii U has been delayed to 2017 and will officially launch simultaneously on Wii U and NX. Oh, and contrary to traditional gaming media cycles, NX won’t be shown off at E3…and Zelda will be the ONLY game playable on the show floor by Nintendo.
There was also a crazy post from Shuhei Yoshida on the PlayStation Blog telling us that all of the Uncharted 4 copies popping up on ebay in the UK yesterday were actually stolen from the company during the shipping process.
Since there was so much to unpack, I asked him if he would be interested in doing a running dialogue with me today to go through some of the news and offer our individual perspectives. He agreed! So without further ado, here are Brendon’s and my thoughts on all of today’s craziness…
Nick: Hey Brendon, thanks a ton for agreeing to guest on today’s post! I’m excited to try this format out.
So after I saw your text this morning, the first story I saw was Shu Yoshida’s blog post about the Uncharted 4 copies being stolen…but given further context I’m thinking you were referring to Nintendo’s umm…interesting presentation of NX news overnight?
Brendon: Hi Nick, and greetings to all you video game fans and aficionados, I am certainly happy to be here.
The short answer to your question is yes, I was referring to Nintendo’s somewhat less-than-orthodox “reveal” of some key NX launch details. That said, today has certainly been a busy day in the world of video game news and I am bursting at the seams with thoughts and questions revolving around these revelations.
Nick: So let’s start with everything surrounding NX. Nintendo announced to investors last night that they won’t be showing NX at E3 this year ahead of launching it in March 2017, that Zelda will be their only playable game at E3 this year, and that it’s also been delayed to 2017 when it will launch simultaneously on Wii U and NX.
Did I miss anything?
Brendon: You mean other than some boring financials? Nope, it seems like you have hit all of the high notes.
Nick: So let’s start with E3. What do you think of Nintendo’s decision to not show off the NX there just nine months ahead of launch?
Brendon: Well, my gut reaction is that I hate the decision. Nintendo has a long tradition of operating under a more conservative mindset and tends to let their plans unfold slowly and more methodically. The fan in me wants to see them break down the doors and just show us what they have accomplished, so far. I want Nintendo to let the fans know that they have not abandoned them after a tumultuous lifespan with the Wii U. I want to see Nintendo shake things up, let us know that they are taking this next step very seriously, but also that they have learned from their mistakes. What better way to show all of this than a well-orchestrated NX reveal at E3? A reveal that would also quiet rumors and leaks, fake or otherwise, about the design of the unit and controllers.
Also, the more business-minded individual in me thinks that they are missing the most profitable time of the year and trading it for one of the least profitable.
Nick: So I definitely agree with your last point. By launching after the holidays, they’ll certainly have an uphill battle sales-wise…but I imagine that whatever PlayStation Neo is and the XBOX equivalent will have both launched this holiday, so at least Nintendo will be launching in solitude.
My gut reaction was pretty similar to yours. I love E3 and would love to see Nintendo continue playing a large role in the convention, but they’ve sort of been moving away from E3 more and more in recent years in favor of their Nintendo Directs. While I’m not sure a pre-recorded video is the best way to announce a console, I’m coming to terms with the idea that E3 2016 probably won’t be either. Nintendo was pretty overshadowed at E3 2012 by rumors of the PS4 and XBOX One. Hell, EA was even hinting at the two consoles in investor calls before their unveilings. So going head to head with the presumed announcements of whatever hardware PlayStation and XBOX have in store won’t give them the spotlight they need.
With E3 as a definite no-go for NX, I’m really hoping that Nintendo does something akin to Sony’s PS4 unveiling. Give us a live presentation, show off your games and show us that third party support is coming. More importantly, show third party publishers why they need to care about Nintendo again. You could make the argument that E3 is the perfect place for this, but I think a late summer event free of the distractions of E3 and focused squarely on NX might be a better fit for them this time around.
Brendon: Without meaning to run counter to all of my previous remarks, I can see a scenario where Nintendo thrives by some of these moves. For example, I can see a scenario where the NX launces in March 2017 to great fanfare and success because the diehards will most certainly pick up the system. At that point, Nintendo being that conservative company could continue to trickle out units in small batches, as they have done in the past, and slowly ramp up production as demand increases. Of course, this is all reliant on a great first impression and having some great launch titles. Also, knowing what we know about the Neo (and probably the Xbox One revision), Nintendo is making a smart move distancing the NX launch, especially considering how much they have to prove themselves this time around.
Furthermore, It would not shock me to discover that Nintendo, like many other video game publishers and developers, have looked at Fallout 4’s success and have taken notes around its shortened turnaround time. I think leaders in the gaming industry look at Bethesda’s strategy and think to themselves, “the hype train rolls right through launch AND we spend less on marketing?” It is a fascinating time for this industry.
Nick: Agreed. I wrote last week about my disappointment in the way the industry’s hype machine is working these days, especially when it comes to premature game announcements and the resulting delays.
It seems like Nintendo is keen on avoiding that with the NX though, which is promising. According to Kotaku, Nintendo’s president, Tatsumi Kimishima, implied that the reason NX won’t launch during the lucrative holiday season is at least in part because the games won’t be ready. So while I’d love to see Nintendo launch big in October/November and sell millions by year’s end, I think you’re right that a Q1 launch will still work out well for them because of their strong following…especially if they have some combination of Zelda, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime, and Smash Bros. ready for launch. If they’re able to hook the hardcore fans right away with some classic franchises, the growing install base will open up their ability to take risks and appeal to more buyers as time goes on.
Changing gears a bit, that Uncharted 4 story caught me pretty off-guard this morning. Have we ever seen a publisher come out with that kind of information before?
Brendon: Actually, I believe we have. The primary example that comes to mind is the shipment of Splatoon amiibo that were stolen last year from a Nintendo truck somewhere in the UK. That said, I can’t remember a publisher coming out with this type of information so quickly. Typically, we hear something from the affected customers first and then the publisher responds. This situation is just another example that shows how proactive Sony has been this generation.
On the surface, this is a simple case of Sony losing some product, but it actually goes deeper. This is also Sony’s way of letting fans know that one of the year’s biggest games is out in the wild early, leading to possible spoilers.
Nick: Ah, good call. I forgot about that amiibo story.
Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with Sony in this case…although I also think it benefits them legally speaking. I imagine that, with the public acknowledgement that absolutely no copies should be outside of their possession, they can more easily shut down online listings for copies of the game now, suppressing as many potential leaks as possible before May 10th.
Brendon: Yeah, there is not a doubt in my mind that this decision to discuss the theft was also a strategic one, but it is still nice to see. It is also nice to see the community rally around an event like this and actively work together to avoid spoilers, which is already a difficult endeavor. Also, and this probably goes without saying, May 10th cannot get here soon enough.
Nick: Agreed. On a side note, my favorite thing to come out of this story was a tweet from Kotaku’s Editor-In-Chief, Stephen Totilo…
Uncharted 4 apparently now among thieves https://t.co/P2o02fOUAJ
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) April 27, 2016
I got a good laugh out of that one…
So we didn’t really talk Zelda earlier. It’s getting another delay…seemingly just to make sure the Wii U and NX versions launch at the same time. Disappointing but ultimately not that shocking. What IS shocking is that Zelda will be Nintendo’s only playable game at E3. No other Wii U games. No 3DS games. No mention of NX. What do you make of them essentially punting their entire business to 2017?
Brendon: First off, I agree with you on the platform front and I say that because they did the same thing with Twilight Princess and I think it goes back to what we talked about previously. Nintendo clearly does not have a lot that they want to show right now and I think once they decided to boot the NX reveal from E3 they stripped everything else out as well. Not to beat a dead Epona, but Nintendo is playing this very conservatively and you are right, it is extremely disappointing and even frustrating for fans.
I really hope that this delay is because they want to get the Zelda reveal right. For months now, we have heard rumors that range from the seemingly innocuous such as fully voiced NPCs to the seemingly radical, at least for a Zelda game, such as customizable gender. It is my hope that they want to present whatever changes they make in a sensible and oddly enough, a sensitive way.
I love Zelda. Zelda is the series made me fall in love with gaming with the original Legend of Zelda and made recognize what gaming could accomplish with Ocarina of Time. Up until Skyward Sword I have loved them all in different ways, some more than others. That said, the series has not really changed much since Ocarina of Time and I think it is time for some growth. Growth, however, is not without its pains and I think Nintendo needs to craft a message that helps them navigate the changes while still showing fans that the series is retaining the heart and charm it always has. It is a difficult undertaking, but if anyone is up to such a task, it is Nintendo.
Nick: I was hoping you’d be able to talk to the Zelda news with a little more eloquence than I can and you delivered! haha
I’ve dabbled in the games over the years, but only ever completed Wind Waker HD (which is a phenomenal game) so I won’t pretend to match your enthusiasm on the subject. That having been said, I always get excited for a new Zelda game just because of the hype that surrounds them. They certainly generate a lot of conversation and I’m sure this will be no different.
I really enjoyed Wind Waker HD and there are some things about Zelda Wii U that remind me of Wind Waker art-wise, which is certainly exciting. One of the things I haven’t been as keen on with Zelda games is their open world tendencies without the density you usually expect from an open world game. Since this new one is being billed from the start as open world, is the assumption that Nintendo will be filling out the world with a bit more to do this time around?
Brendon: Well, I think you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to the issues surrounding Zelda games. Skyward Sword solved some of those issues, but the motion controls proved a huge barrier and the side activities were not always exciting. It sounds like Nintendo is trying to remedy that this time around and hopefully they can pull it off.
For years now, we have heard the rumor that this is going to be Nintendo’s Skyrim, complete with a “go where you want, do what you want mantra”, but I think it is more difficult than that. Zelda has always had quirky characters, epic boss battles, and diverse locales that require some effort to reach. Skyrim has some of that, but I think some of the personality washes away in the massive scale of those types of games and I do not want to see Zelda fall victim to that.
I also believe that Nintendo is always looking to grow its player base and it is not afraid of making changes to core games in order to do that. Whether it is adding four-player couch co-op to Mario, adding online play to Mario Kart, or even adding motion controls to their mainstays, Nintendo has constantly pushed boundaries.
As someone who is maybe less of a traditional Zelda fan, does the concept of a more open world appeal to you more?
Nick: I think the promise of a less barren open world appeals to me. Honestly though, I tend to get sidetracked in open world games and not finish them. Probably half of my pile of shame right now are open world games I’m in the middle of…so I’m not entirely sure what I’d be looking for. I guess my biggest gripe with Zelda is that the immersion usually breaks for me when I have to read NPC dialogue. I’m pretty excited about the full voice acting rumor more than anything else. They don’t have to be fully animated cutscenes or anything, but just the addition of voice acting helps keep me invested. I know that’s a more controversial topic among Zelda fans, but I’m pretty interested to see where they take it!
Do you expect to see a 20-30 minute Nintendo Direct at E3 just focused on Zelda then? I imagine they’ll have a lot to go over if it’s really the only game they’re showing off in detail.
Brendon: I really hope so. I think Nintendo realizes that they have to show something, even if it turns out to be only one game. I hope that they can show off the world, maybe some new mechanics, and run through a small side mission to give us a taste. Then again, with Nintendo, you never know.
Nick: That’s true…and I think that’s sort of the underlying theme with all of this news. I wouldn’t be shocked if they announced a Nintendo Direct for next week to fully reveal the NX and it wouldn’t surprise me if they held off until the holiday season to make their pitch. You really just never know.
That sort of plays right into their hand though. They’ll have everyone’s attention when they’re ready to wow us. I can’t wait.
This has been a lot of fun…thanks for joining me in this experiment!
Brendon: Thanks for the invitation, Nick. This was a lot of fun.
Well, if you somehow stuck with us through all of that, you’re a trooper and we hope you enjoyed it! Let us know in the comments if this is a series worth continuing!