After seeing both Microsoft’s and Sony’s full E3 2017 presentations, it’s easy to see why it’s a great time to be a gamer. With a large swath of titles coming this year and into the next, there will be no lack of games to play. With such titles as EA’s Anthem, Microsoft’s State of Decay 2, Insomniac’s Spider-Man, and everything that was announced in-between, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better upcoming library of games for everyone. With the likes of juggernauts Microsoft and Sony now out of the way, Nintendo has to bring its A-game. Or does it?
I don’t think there’s much room to deny that the Xbox and PlayStation platforms are geared more toward the hardcore crowd, with games like Call of Duty: WW2, Destiny 2, and God of War on the horizon. I mean, sure, we can get cute little entries like Super Lucky’s Tale here and there, but I think it’s safe to say these consoles are for the hardcore gamer. With Microsoft’s powerhouse Xbox One X and Sony’s 4K-ready PS4 Pro, we have machines that are built for games of epic scope and proportion. That said, I’m not sure Nintendo is a direct competitor to either console; rather, I believe Nintendo can carve (and already has carved) its own niche that isn’t necessarily affected by either Microsoft or Sony.
For one, I can’t think of a single game that’s being offered on all three platforms where I might pause to consider which console would best suit my experience with that title. Okay, sure, Skyrim is being offered on all three consoles now, but the experience will be vastly different on Switch—not to mention that all signs point to the Switch version not being the Special Edition re-release for Xbox One and PS4. Fallible argument aside, there’s not a single game (yet, in regards to E3) where I would look to play on Xbox One or PS4 rather than Switch, so I think Nintendo is safe in that regard. For the most part, their content lives only on their device.
I also think that, now that Switch is out in the wild and people have experienced it, players realize that it’s a separate experience from the other consoles. Sure, we all might want every game ever to be on Switch so we can take them all with us, but realistically, I don’t think most Switch owners mind that the Switch isn’t as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4. I mean, hell, if the Switch can run a game like Breath of the Wild and get perfect scores from every major games news outlet, I think it’s doing something right.
Moreover, in a recent quote to TIME from Sony Interactive Entertainment America’s President and CEO, Shawn Layden, Nintendo Switch was said to be “sitting side-by-side” with PS4 in terms of consumers owning both consoles. The assertion that Switch and PS4 are complementary rather than adversarial show that, in Layden’s eyes, Switch isn’t a threat to PS4—or Xbox One, for that matter. While I wouldn’t put Nintendo’s influence in the gaming world in such reductive terms, I do see Layden’s point and agree that Nintendo isn’t as much a direct competitor to the PS4 or Xbox One as it is an additional piece of hardware where gamers can consume different types of games.
Personally, I own all consoles: Switch, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, 3DS (just no PC…yet); while I truly and honestly have no single favorite console (despite running a Nintendo-centric site), I enjoy owning as many consoles as I can so that I can experience as many different types of games as I can. So, to Layden’s point, I am that type of gamer—for me, it’s always “in addition to” rather than “either or,” though I know not everyone is as fortunate to have such diverse options in gaming. For many, it is a choice of one console versus the other. That said, I don’t necessarily see Switch being the only console a person owns; I would bet that most Switch owners already have a PS4 or Xbox One. If I’m wrong, please leave a comment and let me know, but most Switch owners I know and talk to are already invested in at least one of the other platforms.
So, all this is to say that Nintendo isn’t necessarily a direct competitor to either Xbox One or PS4. However, that doesn’t mean that Nintendo doesn’t have to hit a certain few milestones to make this year’s E3 showcase a success.
Bring on the Wii U Ports
I know, many people are tired of seeing port after port of Wii U titles coming to Switch, but honestly I think that’s where these games will thrive: Switch’s year-one library. If they’re coming at all, they had better come now (would you want to see a Pikmin 3 port in late 2018?), so we might as well churn them out. We already have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with Pokkén Tournament DX on the way, so why not make room for Wind Waker HD or Twilight Princess HD, or Super Mario Maker Deluxe? And let us not forget the inevitable Super Smash Bros. Deluxe announcement (seriously, if that isn’t announced, I’ll…reserve the right to be mocked). The vocal player base may be opposed to more Wii U ports, but let’s face it—they’re all going to buy them all again regardless.
Keep the Remaster Treatment Coming
Nostalgia is one of Nintendo’s biggest draws, so why not use that to its advantage? I’d just mentioned bringing over Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, but why stop there? In tradition of remastering the 3D Zelda titles, I don’t think it would be out of the question to see an HD remaster of Skyward Sword, as total motion controls are possible with the Joy-Cons (of course, they’d add in traditional controls for good measure). But what about other franchises? Holiday 2017 is still a long wait for Super Mario Odyssey, so why not throw us an HD remaster for Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario Sunshine? That’ll certainly tide fans over until the holiday season.
Throw Some Curveballs
If Nintendo is good at one thing, it’s keeping us on our toes. Aside from the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle faux-pas (which could arguably be attributed to Ubisoft), Nintendo traditionally keeps its cards close to the vest until it’s ready to show the world. I mean, at E3 2014, Nintendo blew everyone away with Super Mario Maker, so always keep that in mind. With what we know that is still to come this year (Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon), there is still plenty of other untouched franchises we could potentially see make a comeback (Metroid, F-Zero). Plus, there’s always the possibility of new IP, such as the 3DS’ Ever Oasis.
While Nintendo may not be directly competing with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, they do still need to bring their best to the show if they want to make an impact. Nintendo knows what the fans want, and all they have to do is listen.