It’s a great time to be a Nintendo fan.
- Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Nintendo
There are a lot of reasons that this is the case, but let’s start with the most obvious: 2017 is the first year with main entries in both the “Super Mario” and “Legend of Zelda” series since 2002. No joke!
As Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland succinctly put it:
Calendar years with a mainline Mario AND Zelda console game:
So expect the stars to align again in 2032 or 2033.
— Kyle Orland (@KyleOrl) June 16, 2017
I’m of course talking about the excellent “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and the upcoming (crazy looking!) “Super Mario Odyssey.”
The former is already available (seen below), while the latter is scheduled to launch in October.
But there are lots more reasons why it’s such a good time to be a Nintendo fan, and the company and its partners offered many of them at last week’s E3, the annual video game trade show.
Among the most exciting announcements: Not one, but two games in development from the beloved, fan-favorite “Metroid” series. “Metroid Prime 4″offers a big “wow!” factor for fans, while the second “Metroid” game will be of a more classic variety.
The “Metroid” announcements are the latest evidence that Nintendo is finally paying attention to its most serious fans. This is a series that Nintendo fans have been clamoring for, but that Nintendo has largely ignored. And suddenly it’s getting not one but two new games.
But beyond “Metroid”, there’s already a steady drumbeat of major games on Nintendo’s newest console.
The Switch has enjoyed near-monthly major releases of first-party games, starting with “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” in March and continuing with “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” in April. That march will continue through the end of the year with “Arms,” “Splatoon 2,” and “Super Mario Odyssey” all on their way.
And there’s other good stuff on the horizon. New games featuring Yoshi and Kirby in the works for 2018. And a new Pokémon game for the Switch -Nintendo goes so far as to call a “core” Pokémon game – will hit store shelves sometime after that. Fans have been asking that Nintendo make just such a game for one of its home console basically since Pokémon launched.
But Nintendo’s doing other things to demonstrate that it’s actually listening to fans besides just launching big games and reviving old ones. One particularly notable example: The upcoming Nintendo Switch Online Service, which will eventually be a subscription service that gives fans access to classic games from the company’s archives. It will work something like Netflix, only offering Nintendo’s games instead of movies and television shows.
Set to debut in 2018, the service will also provide online gameplay for Nintendo Switch titles. And it’s yet another thing Nintendo fans have been pining for.
Nintendo has long offered re-releases of its classic games library on newer game consoles – a way for Nintendo to re-sell its old games over and over again – but has never before offered them in a subscription format. The service will cost $20/year when it lights up next year.
Predictably, the first few games Nintendo will offer through the subscription service will be ones that were on its original console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (“NES”). “Super Mario Bros. 3,” “Dr. Mario,” and “Balloon Fight” are the first three games planned for the service, though more are expected. It’s not clear if games from Nintendo’s more recent consoles, like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, and GameCube, will be available through the service.
But in addition to the new games and the upcoming online service, fans already had something big to cheer about – the Switch, which debuted on March 3. Not only is it a great console, but Nintendo launched it with one of the most impressive “Zelda” games ever made. That game was both seemingly tailor-made for Nintendo’s most ardent fans, and designed to appeal to new audiences.
To call all Nintendo’s renewed attention to its fans – and all of the crowd-pleasing moves it’s made recently – a “big deal” is to massively understate just how significant all of it is not just for fans, but for the company itself.
You can see that by looking at sales of the Switch, which launched on March 3. Nintendo announced in April that its first quarter sales of the Switch were better than it initially forecast. It also increased production due to that better-than-anticipated demand.
Meanwhile, the company’s stock has enjoyed a big bounce thanks to its early success with the Switch:
People buy game consoles for their games. Nintendo continues to demonstrate that it understands this with the Switch. And its focus on pleasing its fans is paying off in a major way for both them and the Japanese game maker itself.