Assessing Nintendo’s Performance at E3 2017

This year’s E3 is supposed to be significant for Nintendo – they’re coming off a relatively successful launch of the Switch and of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They’ve been riding a steady wave of success in recent times: the smash hit Pokemon Go, the resurgence of 3DS sales, their entry in the mobile games market, and the surprisingly popular NES Classic Edition. E3 is a great opportunity to keep the positive momentum going and keep the Nintendo brand relevant. So, how did they do?

Because of the manner Nintendo is approaching E3, it’s a little hard to assess how well they did. Some of the Nintendo-related reveals were shared by third party developers in their respective presentations. Some were revealed during Nintendo’s Treehouse Live events and not during their main spotlight. So let’s talk about two things: Nintendo’s main presentation and the rest of what was revealed during this year’s E3.

Nintendo Spotlight – Hit and Miss

Not everyone is going to keep track of all the announcements and follow all the events during E3 so Nintendo’s Spotlight presentation is very important – if you wanted to know what Nintendo has in store for you in the coming months, then you’re going to watch this. Understandably, the presentation was limited to upcoming Switch titles. The biggest news to come out of the Nintendo Spotlight was more gameplay footage of Super Mario Odyssey and the announcement that Metroid Prime 4 is in development.

No one would have guessed that we were looking at Super Mario Odyssey when we saw that T-Rex walking across a green meadow.

This may be an exaggeration but I strongly feel that Super Mario Odyssey is to Super Mario 64 in the same way that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was to Ocarina of Time – it’s going to be a classic and will be critically well-received. No question that Super Mario Odyssey is Nintendo’s next killer app so any exposure that it gets is a good thing.

Arguably, Metroid Prime 4 was Nintendo’s biggest reveal during E3.

As for Metroid Prime 4, I seriously want to dock Nintendo a few points for simply showing us the game’s title. I mean, we don’t even have a short cinematic of Samus? Still, the Metroid fanbase is rabid for a new entry in the franchise after years of waiting, and while I’m not a hardcore Metroid fan I know the significance of the franchise to Nintendo. Quite honestly, seeing the cloud patterns form into an “S”, then hearing the Metroid Prime theme brought chills to my spine.

In terms of new announcements, the Spotlight itself was a little lacking for me. Learning about Rocket League was nice (any 3rd party title on Nintendo platforms is great news) and we saw a reconfirmation of the Mario and Rabbids crossover. Not the game changers that I wanted to see, but Rocket League is a good addition to the Switch library and it’s nice to see Ubisoft playing ball with Nintendo again.

We saw the Pokemon Company simply announcing that a core Pokemon game is being developed for the Switch (probably a reaction to how fans reacted after last month’s Pokemon Direct), which really wasn’t much. They also talked about Pokken Tournament DX, but we already knew about that. Breath of the Wild is getting new DLC packs soon… Skyrim got a brief mention with the Legend of Zelda themed items being shown in-game… The Switch is also getting new Kirby and Yoshi games next year – solid franchises with decent fanbases, but not at the level of popularity of the Mario, Zelda, or Pokemon brand.

Finally, the two games that are the most non-Nintendo-like of the bunch: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. We had a taste of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but very little in-battle footage, which was okay but a little lacking. We had cinematics of Fire Emblem Warriors and no gameplay footage. Both, I think, were missed opportunities; I think Xenoblade Chronicles is an underrated franchise, but one that could wow the Final Fantasy crowd if given the proper marketing. Fire Emblem is a hot IP for Nintendo but I don’t think its Warriors offshoot is going to sell on brand alone – people will need to see a lot of actual gameplay footage.

I don’t know if the 25 minute runtime was by choice or because Nintendo didn’t really have much to show beyond what we saw. I would have wanted to see more of Metroid Prime 4, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Fire Emblem Warriors – giving each an additional 3 minutes of screentime would have made for a better presentation. The Nintendo Spotlight had a lot of positives and the Metroid Prime 4 announcement was big, but it also lacked substance on some of the titles and I was underwhelmed with the 3rd party titles that were highlighted. This could have been so much better.

E3 Outside of the Nintendo Spotlight

After the Nintendo Spotlight, I kept track of what happened during Nintendo’s Treehouse events and there were a few other titles that were announced. Only two were really notable to me, and both are enhanced remakes of old classics for the Nintendo 3DS: Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga (a spiritual successor to Super Mario RPG that was released for the Gameboy Advance) and Metroid: Samus Returns.

Another reason to keep turning your Nintendo 3DS on.

Metroid: Samus Returns is the remake of the Gameboy classic Metroid II: Return of Samus (Nintendo shutting down Another Metroid 2 Remake makes a lot of sense now) and to be honest, is the game that I’m looking forward to the most, of everything that Nintendo has revealed. Ubisoft has their Mario + Rabbids crossover and Starlink (a new IP); Bethesda has Skyrim; we’re also getting Lego Worlds which offers Minecraft-like gameplay. Aside from this, it’s been pretty low key for Nintendo in terms of announcements (not counting the non-confirmations of Capcom regarding the localization of the Switch version of Monster Hunter XX or Ubisoft regarding the release of Beyond Good and Evil 2 on the Switch).

The Verdict

I’ve been seeing reports about Nintendo’s share value improving due to the positive buzz that they got based on their E3 performance. As a Nintendo fan, I’m quite satisfied – Nintendo has another killer app on the way in Super Mario Odyssey and fellow Nintendo fans seem to be quite excited about both Metroid titles.

As someone who is hoping for announcements that would convince friends to “switch” to Nintendo, I’m disappointed; Nintendo still hasn’t gotten past their third party developer problem despite the successful launch of the Switch. I’m not sure if Super Mario Odyssey is enough to convince anyone who hasn’t already gotten a Switch to get one if Breath of the Wild already didn’t. In my eyes, Nintendo did well but they still have a lot of work to do.

Did you catch Nintendo’s presentation at E3? How about their other announcements during the Treehouse events? Let us know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 showing by leaving a comment or two below!

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