What Should Nintendo Do At E3?

As the above video explains, Nintendo has some sizable plans for E3, including some potential new IPs. However, Nintendo’s gotten some mixed reviews for their recent E3 performances, so I decided to brainstorm a few things the company needs to do to keep their Switch gravy train running.

First, we need to set the goals Nintendo seeks to accomplish with their E3 presentation. This boils down to two simple points:

  • They need to convince their fanbase to cut ties with their Wii Us, and convert as many as possible over to the Switch.
  • They also need to convince as many non-Nintendo fans as possible to take a flyer on the Switch.

So what do they need to show off to accomplish these tasks?

  • Showing off a new Super Mario Odyssey trailer is a must. This is an easy one: Mario has the highest Q rating of any of Nintendo’s characters, the plumber is a proven console-mover, Odyssey is the first 3D Mario title since 3D World (and the first true open-world Mario since Super Mario 64), and the last trailer from the Switch reveal has over 18 million views. People are really excited for this game, and Nintendo needs to do all it can maintain the game’s hype until its holiday release.
  • Announce Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Maker for the Switch, both with vague ‘2018’ release dates. There are really four major franchises that are tying people to the Wii U right now. Two of them (Mario Kart 8Splatoon) already have ports or sequels announced, and while I’m not convinced Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has enough new content to justify re-buying the game, at least gamers can upgrade to the Switch knowing that these two games will be there to meet them. The other two (Super Smash Bros.Super Mario Maker) are still up in the air right now, which means fans of the series have no choice but to stick with their Wii Us (or 3DSes) if they want those games.

Nintendo needs to throw these fanbases a bone and assure them that yes, they’ll be covered on the Switch (and relatively soon). Even some footage of an MK8D-esque port would go a long way in building up hype for the possibilities of their new system.

  • Adopt Splatoon’s “free DLC” gimmick for ARMS, and announce a new character/stage or two. Right now, ARMS is in the same spot that Nintendo’s inky shooter was back in 2015, as it’s a simple-but-radical new take on an old genre, one that has some intriguing e-sport potential. Right now, however, the announced character roster is a bit bare, and very little has been said about the battle arenas. Nintendo should treat ARMS the same way they handled Splatoon, and come up with some new fighter/weapon/stage designs that could be slowly (but freely) dribbled out to the public to maintain its hype and encourage players to try new playstyles. Given that ARMS will already have been out for a little while by the time E3 rolls around, the conference would be the perfect time to announce a first round of character additions.
  • Minimize talk about new IPs, and focus on those that best demonstrate the Switch’s potential. We know that Nintendo has been talking about showing off new IPs soon, but we don’t know anything about them, and frankly, I’m starting to think Nintendo already has too many IPs for its own good. (Basically, all franchises like Metroid do now are make people ask “When’s the next real game coming out?” and drive Nintendo reps crazy.) That said, it can be hard to innovate with an existing IP to show off the best parts of your hardware (Star Fox Zero‘s motion controls, anyone?). Nintendo needs to strike a careful balance here, and focus on IPs that really make the Switch shine without spreading the company thinner than it already is.
  • Elaborate on the future of the 3DS. As of right now, we have no idea what will become of the 3DS in 2018. Will it still get major releases from Nintendo’s iconic franchises? Will it re-branded as some sort of kid-focused or entry-level gaming device? Will it be killed off completely? There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the 3DS right now, and Nintendo would be wise to set the record straight and lay out a roadmap for its older handheld.
  • Announce at least one new major third-party partnership. There still seems to be a lot of skepticism around third-party support for the Switch, both from developers and fans. The Big N could use a big reveal from a prominent developer (Square? EA? Blizzard?) to further you the system’s potential and put some of this skepticism to rest.
  • What about Nintendo’s prominent handheld franchise? This is more of a wish than a necessity, but if there’s a full-fledged Pokémon game coming to the Switch, a mysterious trailer with some 1080p footage suggesting this would absolutely bring the house down.

Above everything, of course, Nintendo should be its usual wacky, zany self when making their presentation. The humor and personality that folks like the late Mr. Iwata always displayed is what endears Nintendo to so many gamers, and if they continue to follow that example, regardless of the presentation details, they should survive E3 just fine.