After a tumultuous start to 2020, Nintendo turned its fortunes around in a matter of weeks. Can the Switch take on next-gen gaming?
Longtime Nintendo fans are familiar with the company’s cycle of booms and busts. Even the current Switch era isn’t immune. After a rough start to 2020, fans feared the company would stagnate, but a recent slew of announcements have turned the tide, which means no one should count Nintendo out of next-gen yet.
The first eight months of Nintendo’s 2020 painted a bleak tapestry of the future. Animal Crossing: New Horizons became a phenomenon and Switches continued to fly off shelves. However, with next-gen around the corner, a vapid release calendar and a complete mishandling of PR and announcements, 2020 seemed like the worst possible time for Nintendo to fumble. Yet somehow the company reversed its fortunes in a matter of weeks.
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A Matter of Messaging
Beyond July’s Paper Mario: The Origami King, it was unclear what, if anything, Nintendo had planned for the rest of the year. The exciting but nonetheless arbitrary-feeling Twitter reveal of October’s Pikmin 3 Deluxe garnered some hype and offered a little clarity. However, it also seemingly confirmed the inevitable: Fall would be largely empty of new Nintendo titles.
This disorganization came at a time when both Sony and Microsoft ratcheted up the intensity, with the former dropping two of 2019’s most prominent games and both getting the next-gen hype cycle revved up. The Switch is already below the technical fidelity of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and next-gen stands poised to widen that gap even more. Nintendo’s best play is to leverage its incredible first-party stable to compete, but until very recently, that seemed unlikely.
In September, Nintendo has flooded the Internet with a maelstrom of reveals outlining a vibrant Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. The Super Mario 35th Anniversary Direct revealed Super Mario 3D All-Stars for September and Mario Kart Live: Home Tour for October. Looking ahead, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was then positioned for February.
Less than a week later, Nintendo returned to drop Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, slotting it into late November. Then, barreling along, Nintendo released a Partner Showcase, headlined by the brand-new and exclusive Monster Hunter: Rise, releasing in March.