Nintendo is taking a break from 2016, but is that OK?
It has become pretty clear that Nintendo has been in a "relax mode" of sorts lately. Ever since 2015, it just hasn't felt as thought Nintendo has the energy and enthusiasm it had when it first built up the Wii U back in 2012. And with the announcements they have made recently about their plans for E3 and for the Nintendo NX, it really shows that Nintendo has looked at 2016 and said, “We give up. For now”. If you are a Nintendo fan like I am, hearing this news has likely gotten you wondering "what the hell they are thinking over there at Nintendo", and Wii U owners are likely cursing themselves for buying in to Nintendo’s hype for their last console. The Nintendo franchise has started to look grim to people for some time now, but there may be some hope for Nintendo fans, if Nintendo plays their right cards with the NX.
NINTENDO PULLS A "TWILIGHT PRINCESS" ONCE AGAIN
First of all, if you are a Wii U owner, especially one who was there with Nintendo on launch day back in 2012, I feel like I should apologize to you. All the news surrounding the delay of Zelda Wii U is likely putting you in a pretty sour state, and it should, in my opinion. Since 2013, when this game was first announced to be in development, Wii U owners have felt that they had some hope with their console purchase, as Zelda is a huge franchise for Nintendo consoles, and it would help justify purchasing another Nintendo system with a tablet “gimmick” attached. But as time passed, delays kept hitting the game. First, from 2015 into 2016, and now into 2017. Plus, the announcement of a version for the NX feels, to me, like a twist of the knife for Wii U owners. Dedicated fans may have bought this system just for the next Zelda installment, and now Nintendo has given them almost no reason to have purchased it at all. Sure, awesome games like Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Maker have arrived on the system, but there were LONG gaps in between waiting for these Wii U “hits”, and if Nintendo has some plan to take these “hits" and move them over to the NX either via backwards compatibility or making a newer version for the system, then it will render the Wii U completely obsolete after only 4 years, and force the 12 million or so fans who purchased a Wii U to spend their hard earned cash on a newer system with newer assurances, and too many broken promises in the wake.
Eggs In a New Basket
Everything that Nintendo is doing is showing fans and critics more and more that they have taken all of their eggs out of the Wii U basket, and firmly planted them in the NX. Looking at their upcoming games list for Wii U for the rest of 2016, there are only 4 games with an exact release date, 11 more that give a date ranging “sometime” in 2016, and not a single one of them is being developed by Nintendo. The last big Nintendo-developed game was Star Fox Zero, and from reviews and hands-on demos of the game so far, it has shaped up to be a Star Fox 64 clone with better graphics and controls that leave a bit to be desired, something no one wants to hear about a beloved Nintendo franchise. All the evidence is clearly showing that Nintendo is putting their full focus into NX development. With cutting peoples’ expectations short by not planning to show anything NX related at E3 this year, holding off on new NX information until “later in 2016”, and have Zelda Wii U as the ONLY playable game on the E3 show floor, Nintendo seems to be sending a clear message of “Forget Wii U. Forget 2016. We will be back with the NX”, pinning their hopes and dreams on this next console.
The Light at the end of the tunnel?
Now, I may sound a bit harsh, but it is for a good reason. I, like I assume many of you reading this are, am a huge Nintendo fan, and I do care deeply about how their future of this upcoming console, and of the company, goes. Seeing how the Wii U has been received, and also hearing these seemingly bizarre announcements and plans from Nintendo in order to prepare for the NX has me a bit concerned about how Nintendo will be viewed and received within the next few years. But, after thinking on it for a bit, I thought to myself, “Maybe this is a good thing for Nintendo”? I am pretty certain Nintendo will come to E3 this year with a Nintendo Direct, talking about the few games they have left planned for the Wii U and 3DS for the remainder of 2016 (if not, they probably could have saved a lot of money and not go to E3 at all), but pushing back the NX announcement to later in the year, and showcasing a game that everyone truly wants to see more of, could help give them extra time that they can use to nail the NX. The Zelda Wii U/NX announcement is a bummer for Wii U fans, but this isn’t the first time Nintendo has pulled this trick (see: Twilight Princess for Gamecube/Wii) and it seemed to work ok for them in the past. Plus, at least Wii U owners are still getting the game, which can be viewed as a plus in some light. Even with the dearth of Nintendo-developed games we have missed for a while, many of the developers under the Nintendo banner have been quiet for some time, which can only mean they must be working on games for the NX, and this time could prove valuable to produce great first-party games for the console. Nintendo has, in a sense, cleared the slate for the rest of the year in order to showcase and plan out its’ plan of attack for the NX. This may look like an extremely shrewd move for Nintendo, but Nintendo may have to play the long game in order to ensure the success of the NX launch, and bring many lapsed Nintendo fans back into the fold.
Nintendo has a lot to prove to its' fans
In the end, though, there are still too many questions left on the board. “Could” the extra time for developers ensure some great games for the NX? “Will” the low-profile E3 help make sure the NX announcement plans go smoothly with fans? “Should” Nintendo be taking this time to prepare for the NX, and “will” it help in the long run? It is still a bit unclear. Many gamers have played and been Nintendo fans since they were little, and seeing them shake things up like this is making everyone nervous. Nintendo still has billions of dollars in reserve, sure, but another misstep like the Wii U could not only force them to dip heavily in that stockpile, but also, and more importantly, irreversibly harm the Nintendo brand for years to come. If they feel like taking 2016 off in order to make sure the NX is the Nintendo success that we, as fans, want it to be, then take your time, Nintendo, and good luck. I still have my PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to keep me company, so I have some time to kill until you return next year.