The following article is an opinion piece by Shawn Long and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the entire Nintendo Enthusiast staff.
Nintendo had an interesting 2015 that is now winding down to a close. Filled with high notes such as the success of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, low notes such as a weak E3 presentation, and sad notes with the passing of Satoru Iwata, Nintendo and their fans had to deal with a bevy of emotions at all times. With 2016 looming on the horizon, Nintendo finds themselves in an interesting position; and it’s a position that I think breeds a landscape of dominance. Let’s take a look at the varying factors that will determine their fate.
Nintendo has made it abundantly clear that we will get information on the Nintendo NX in 2016. While we will talk about the Nintendo NX later in this article, let’s focus on the current crop of systems. We recently put out a video showcasing the upcoming Wii U titles of 2016, with over 100 games. Sure, some of them are “indie” titles that might not be killer games, but there is something for everyone to enjoy. Taking into account the first half of 2016 for the Wii U, we actually have a very solid line up:
- Star Fox Zero
- POKKEN Tournament
- Lost Reavers
- Twilight Princess HD (Rumored)
- Hyrule Warriors/Smash Bros. additional content
Now you might say: “4 games, 1 rumored and DLC? Not that solid!” but take into account one thing: we are still getting a Nintendo Direct this year which will more than likely have a surprise or two for the Spring line up. Couple that with a steady flow of eShop releases, and the Wii U will have a solid start to 2016.
On the 3DS side of things, things look even better.
- Hyrule Warriors Legends
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force
- Project X Zone 2
- Final Fantasy Explorers
- Mighty No. 9
- Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam
That is just what we know is confirmed. While Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam could slip into a later release window, that is a very solid line up for the 3DS, along with tons of quality eShop games. And once again, the upcoming Nintendo Direct can easily add to this. Between the 2 systems there is a lot of fun to be had, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg; especially considering we don’t know much about the rest of 2016 aside from Zelda Wii U.
Nintendo talked about their upcoming mobile plans a bit in the latest investors meeting, and although investors themselves weren’t thrilled, I think their first “game” Miitomo has a great chance at being the litmus test that Nintendo needs to do before jumping full force into the mobile market. One of the main draws of the Wii was the pickup and play style the console offered, but there were also Mii characters, a recognizable thing for would-be users of Miitomo.
See, Miitomo isn’t meant for us, the core audience; it’s meant to expand the market and bring people back to Nintendo. The Wii audience has moved onto mobile platforms, so why not do something that caters to them and can help bring in residuals? Miitomo launches in March 2016, and is one of the five upcoming titles between then and March 2017 that Nintendo will be launching on mobile devices. Miitomo is simply there to get people into the door, test servers, and see how far Nintendo can extend their brand in the mobile market. Personally, I think Nintendo’s Miitomo will be a huge hit, and may be some of best advertising on mobile devices that they could get.
While everything is just speculation on the Nintendo NX, based on information given by the Wall Street Journal, I feel confident in making the upcoming presumptions about the platform: the Nintendo NX will be a strong system equal to if not superior to the current consoles on the market, have both home and mobile options, will be showcased at E3 2016, and will release in Holiday of 2016.
New hardware always creates a buzz, and Nintendo getting back to creating a powerful system can potentially help them repair damaged relationships with 3rd parties, pending the system has a friendly architecture system for porting games. Being the first “hybrid” system would give them a technological edge that could translate into massive sales for the console. Mr. Miyamoto is promising aggressive use of IPs for the console as well. The Wii U was Nintendo’s first HD system, and it shows: games were beautiful, but often slow to come out. Now that the core team creating these experiences has some knowledge on how to make them under their belt, the NX will more than likely launch with a stellar line up of titles.
As stated, this is all just based on my speculation, but I think a lot of us can see the writing on the wall when it comes to the NX. Nintendo knows that they can’t have another Wii U situation and that the market has changed. Will they themselves adapt?
There are many other smaller but impactful things Nintendo has going for them going into 2016 as well. Amiibo sales are through the roof, and obviously aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nintendo’s new loyalty program, My Nintendo, will reward players simply for playing games, which is greater than any “trophy” or “achievement” competitors can offer. Nintendo is also utilizing cloud saves for all devices, and plans to incorporate an eco-system between both consoles, computer, and mobile devices. Hell, there’s even a theme park in the works.
What makes 2016 so exciting is that we know what Sony and Microsoft are offering. Nintendo is the sleeping giant in the room with a deck of cards, and no one really knows their hand. One thing is for sure though: Nintendo has created a perfect storm of various elements that, if done correctly, could turn into a dominant 2016 for the company.