We all know and love Nintendo, the creator of various beloved franchises like Super Mario, Metroid and Legend of Zelda, and 2017 was a game changing year for the Japanese gaming giant. So let’s take a look back at their journey through the year and how it changed them as a company.
- The Fall & Rise Of Nintendo
With the Wii U’s performance slowly but steadily going downhill as the months went on, Nintendo had no choice but to phase it out in favor of a brand new system, one that corrects all the issues that plagued the Wii U – the tainted Wii brand, lacklustre third party support, poor marketing and consumer disinterest. Enter the Switch (known back then as the NX) with heaps of rumors leading up to it’s ecstatic reveal (in Jan) and launch (in March). Of course by then people were over the fact that it’s not a traditional home console but rather a hybrid one – and many doubted the system’s success, thinking it would be yet another failure. Oh how wrong they were.
- Nintendo Switch: A Thundering Success
The Switch was the biggest highlight of Nintendo’s 2017 as it not just ended up being a successful system, but also managed to show that it’s not a repeat of the Wii U:
- Mass consumer appeal – The simple prospect of playing console quality games on the go by switching from home console and portable modes (aided by the unique HD Rumble feature and a focus on local co-op via detachable controllers – the Joycons) ended up being a hit as the Switch outsold the Wii U’s entire lifetime sales in just a year.
- Easy to develop for – Nintendo have finally learned to tackle an open development platform by partnering with Nvidia to implement the Tegra X1 solution in the Switch (which is a modular design too, allowing for easy future upgrades). With this, they’ve made the system accessible to every developer. Which brings me to the next point…
- Great third party support – Back then, it would’ve been laughable to think that a Nintendo system would get support from devs like Bethesda, Take Two and From Software (and all three of them have previously shown disinterest in developing for a Nintendo console). Yet here we are, with DOOM, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, LA Noire on the Switch and upcoming releases like Wolfenstien II: The New Collossus and Dark Souls Remastered. Not just this, but they’ve also been embracing third parties’ efforts, helping them out, promoting them and learning from them. Never before has Nintendo has been so open to a third party, and this is a great sign for things to come.
- Indie-heaven – As the Switch is a platform that doesn’t really have much direct competition (unlike the saturated Steam market), it’s become the go-to place for indie releases. Everything – from major releases like Rocket League, Stardew Valley and SteamWorld Dig 2 to underrated gems like Oxenfree, Gorogoa and Battle Chef Brigade as well as those that saw new life on the Switch, like Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth and Super Meat Boy – all saw good amounts of success. And the indies don’t seem to be stopping any time soon, as there’s announcements almost every day about an indie game coming to Switch.
- Spot-on marketing – The Big N has been smart in targeting their major demographic this time around i.e. teens and adults – essentially core gamers. Their advertising efforts to make the Switch a household name have been strong as well, ranging from Super Bowl ads, to promotions with John Cena, and even cereal boxes.
- Strategic lineup of games – the Switch’s first year launch was perhaps the best in video game history – I mean what other system has had TWO Game Of The Year nominees and a steady, monthly release of games in the first year itself?
Of course I haven’t forgotten the 3DS, which saw a new hardware revision (called the New 2DS XL) and also enjoyed a handful of major first party releases like Metroid: Samus Returns, Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, etc. Their recent announcement of the Nintendo Labo – a cardboard DIY peripheral kit for the Nintendo Switch, aimed specifically at kids – caught the world by storm as well and we’ll have to see how it does in the future; so far, the hands-on reception has been quite positive.
Ultimately, the biggest change Nintendo have made is in themselves. With Tatsumi Kimishima holding the reigns of the modern Nintendo, they’re on the right track so far – both sales and support for the Switch indicate that. Now it’s not all perfect though: Nintendo still have to work on several aspects like a robust online service for the Switch, extra content (i.e Virtual Console, an achievements system, third party apps like Netflix) and so on, but I’m sure we’ll get there in due time. 2018 definitely looks to be even better than 2017 was; it’s a good time to be a Nintendo fan.