Well folks—this is it! 2015 is now officially history and we’re about to pass through the threshold to a whole new year.
Looking back at the past 12 months, Nintendo has been through one hell of a ride. They began the year with announcing the existence of their next system. Then at the beginning of the summer they launched Splatoon—a game that not even they thought would succeed, yet absolutely did. With the turn of E3, their presentation fell flat on its face and left the fan-base in a state of despair; but nothing could have prepared us for the untimely death of Satoru Iwata. This was the source of an incredibly long period of almost total silence from the Big N. Thankfully, things finally picked up in October with the election of a new President, and the first Nintendo Direct in almost half a year, which then continued with the recent Super Smash Bros. Broadcast that detailed the last bit of content we’d be getting for the game.
Indeed, a lot has happened with Nintendo this year and it honestly may go down in history as one of the most tumultuous years for the company since they first entered the videogame industry. But now its officially behind us and everything can be put in an ‘Archive’ folder. With that in mind, as we look onward to 2016—how on earth is this going to do down?
Nintendo is very well known for their almost unrealistically good ability to be silent and mysterious. It’s not uncommon at all to have almost no idea of what exactly they have planned. We here at Nintendo Enthusiast all have our own opinions for how we think this year is going to pan out, but this is how I personally see it going down. To be frank, I’m not here to predict anything, but rather, I’m analyzing what we know in the hopes of formulating a solid idea.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: The Legend of Zelda. Nintendo’s handling of the title thus far has been rather strange to say the least. After showing off the game twice in 2014, the most we saw of it in 2015 was nothing more than a literal 10-second clip which reconfirmed that the game would be coming in 2016. After Mr. Iwata revealed the existence of the NX, and Mr. Aonuma confirmed that Zelda was delayed, and this caused many to jump to the conclusion that the game is being held off in order to be dual released on both the Wii U and the new console.
Now personally, I find this theory to be incredibly outlandish. Nintendo is no stranger to delaying titles, especially their Zelda games. They have stated that the new game is rather ambitious, and considering that the series 30th anniversary is this year, then it makes sense to release the next big title in time for it. After all, Skyward Sword was the 25th anniversary title (yes it has been that long). Considering that Nintendo has been stressing the tentative title “The Legend of Zelda for Wii U” on so many occasions, and considering that the console hasn’t gotten any original Zelda game sans Hyrule Warriors, I completely believe that this title is a Wii U exclusive.
As far as we know, this will be Nintendo’s biggest release of the year. With the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One getting Uncharted 4 and Quantum Break, respectively, then Zelda releasing this year will give the Wii U its own killer app. Of course, there are other big titles like Star Fox Zero and Pokken Tournament and potentially even Pikmin 4 to look forward to, so here’s hoping that the console’s lineup is better than this year (Amiibo Festival and Mario Tennis?)
The way Nintendo handles the Wii U this year is incredibly crucial. Seeing that they intend to (actually) talk about the NX, this means that anyone who’s been on the fence about buying the system may very well hold off. But even more so, Nintendo needs to make sure that they don’t aggravate the user-base that they already have. The PS4 and XBO still have, at the very least, 2-3 more years on the market, meaning that regardless if the NX launches in 2016 or 2017, it will have to fight against two established juggernauts; the exact same situation the Wii U was in when it launched. Nintendo’s best bet is to continue appeasing the user-base that they still have. Thankfully, President Kimishima has already shined a bit of hope on that detail, so let’s just hope that he sees to it that the company sticks to those words.
Looking past the Wii U, there still lies the 3DS. Now then, Sony has already stated (and have showed) that their focus is no longer on the Vita, not to mention that they outright said they don’t intend to create a successor. This means that Nintendo has the handheld market almost exclusively now. The 3DS may be aging, but it’s still selling like hotcakes. In addition to this, Nintendo, as well as third-parties and indies, are still very much actively supporting the platform. As 2016 rolls in, the little handheld should continue to do just fine with its ever increasing library of amazing titles.
Outside of their systems, Nintendo is hard at work on various other projects. For starters, they’ll be truly pushing into the ‘digital age’ with the launch of their My Nintendo service; the successor to the late Club Nintendo. This will be the Big N’s first major move into putting itself on even ground with the likes of PlayStation and XBOX, by allowing users to have access to their content across multiple devices, and will also (finally) allow Nintendo console-owners to save their games to the Cloud. In addition to this, Nintendo will also show the first fruits of their newfound partnership with DeNA by launching titles on mobile devices. Let’s also not forget their plans to expand their IP into popular theme parks as well.
Indeed, when you look at Nintendo’s plans for 2016, there is a lot going on; and this is simply what we know about. Truly, Nintendo has a massive amount of leeway to surprise not just its fan-base, but also the rest of the gaming industry. And that’s more important than it may seem.
For quite some time now, Nintendo has been separate from the rest of the industry. In that time, their fan-base has transformed into the likes of an exclusive club, where only its members seem to appreciate the value of it all. Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft have been going toe-to-toe in practically every area, with their respective fan-bases sharing the same content, and fighting over it all. Unfortunately, they far outnumber the ranks of Nintendo’s crowd, leaving the Big N with a very obvious mission.
Nintendo’s fight against Sony and Microsoft will continue to intensify. This year could see the turn of favor towards the Big N.
It’s very hard to share something among 3 people. Someone is going to end up getting the short end of the stick; there’s no getting around that. With that in mind, Nintendo is going to have to find some way or another to make the best out of the situation. There’s no way that they’ll be able to march between the likes of Sony and Microsoft overnight. Back during the time of SEGA vs Nintendo, Sony was able to skyrocket to first place because SEGA was faltering. Microsoft isn’t in the best position right now, but they aren’t in as bad of a position as SEGA was. With that in mind, it will be very difficult for Nintendo to get a drop on them.
With all things considered, 2016 looks to be the year where we see the biggest transformation that Nintendo has experienced since the dawn of the original DS. With President Kimishima leading the charge and a solid plan already outlined, it should be very interesting to see how it all pans out. Mark my words—we’re about to witness the start of a whole new Nintendo.