As we finally approach the end of the dark, twisted and maleficent tunnel that has been the Wii U era, the topic on everyone’s minds is the Nintendo Switch. While our mouths froth in advance of tomorrow’s livestream and following press events, it is only natural to scour the internet for any nugget of information to slowly peel back the veil of secrecy.
Fortunately for you, I’m here to enable your psychopathic desire to spoil everything for yourself by running down a list of what you can expect from tomorrow’s festivities. Whether it’s a virtual guarantee or a delusional pipe dream, Middle of Nowhere Gaming has the perfect elixir for your onset hype insanity. Working from conventional wisdom, the ever-active rumor mill and Nintendo precedent, we’ll run the gamut of expectations for the year’s first gaming blowout.
Everything you can fully expect from the presentation. If any of these are wrong, feel free to be liberal with the torches and pitchforks.
Release date and price
Might as well start with the obvious, the Switch will receive a final release date as well as price at the event. We saw PS4 and Xbox One prices and release dates at E3 2013 in June of that year, which is around 5 months prior to release. January puts the Switch at two months out, so it is time to find out exactly how much we’ll need to remove from our piggy banks in advance. The current rumor on this front is a March 17th release at around $245 USD, which would be fantastic if true, though I would take the news with a grain of salt. I think mid March and a $300 price tag plus a bundled game would be perfect for the console, but we’ll see, as the company has stated that they won’t sell the machine at a loss. Regardless of the specifics, this is an easy prediction to make. Which means…
Better have that Amazon tab open during the livestream, as after the NES Classic debacle it would be absolute foolishness for Nintendo to not allow potential customers to lock in the purchase while the hype is at its highest. And with the company’s penchant for artificial scarcity…well, you’ve been warned. Even after the announcement of limited pre-orders at the live NYC presentation, I fully expect equally limited numbers to be made available online.
Outlining features and play
Nintendo’s trademark is different avenues of play, so we can expect an outline of all the features that are packed into the exciting new hybrid. Multitouch enabled screen, USB C, Online play and user interface are all sure bets to be featured at the event. I fully expect the Switch to be a versatile device capable of adapting to any situation a player finds themselves in, so the features will be communicated in a way that meshes with this message. Amiibo support is another important tenet for the new console, as the successful figures were sneakily features in the reveal trailer and are a hit for the company. They will be seamlessly integrated into the new hardware. Even features not covered at the event will slowly leak out through the following hands-on press event, so we will soon have a clearer picture of what the console can actually do.
Nintendo’s launch lineup will be set
This might be the most desired piece of news out of the event, as Nintendo’s bullish silence on the release front has caused many a hypothesis about what games will be ready for the launch of the Switch. While a full lineup should trickle out in the days and weeks after the event, Nintendo can be expected to show fans what they will be playing throughout the entirety of the launch window. What exactly they will be playing is a different story.
Final Zelda trailer, confirmed as launch game
The saga of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been quite something hasn’t it? Recent rumors by switchslueths Emily Rogers and Laura Dale said no March Zelda, but Rogers recently tweeted that she was wrong about its release date being pushed and that it was locked into launch day. I personally buy this more than its delay, as it makes sense to push the new Mario game, which we know nothing about, than to delay. I am fully confident in Zelda’s launch status after its appearances at the Game Awards and on Jimmy Fallon, and think that Nintendo will take a less-is-more approach, giving us an all new taste, hopefully a story trailer, and then leave us content for launch.
Ports, Ports everywhere
After the unprecedented failure of the Wii U, it only makes sense for Nintendo to release updated versions of the fantastic Splatoon, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros on their new platform. These games all featured DLC, leaving them as perfect candidates for Game of the Year editions. After seeing Mario Kart and Splatoon during the reveal trailer, it can be fully expected to see these games make the Switch (heh). Though Smash wasn’t shown, it would be incredibly out of touch to leave it stranded on terrible hardware, especially with its lively competitive scene. Super Mario Maker is another port we will see on the new hardware, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Xenoblade was also made available. In short, there is too much fantastic software on the Wii U to simply move on without it.
The third-party plan
The first thing naysayers point to, and with good reason, whenever Nintendo enters conversation is the less than ideal third party support. Already a focal point in the reveal trailer with NBA 2K and Skyrim, it is paramount that the Switch comes packing a third party punch. Luckily, the reveal trailer shows that Nintendo gets it, along with the widely disseminated image of the established partners. Unreal Engine 4’s compatibility also bodes well for the accessibility of the system. We have even seen games like Rime, Yooka Laylee and Stardew Valley announce Switch versions in recent weeks, which is a great start for the independent scene on the system. Expect a third party montage of announced or released games coming to the console, which cements the support to the consumer while taking up minimal time on less splashy announcements.
As Nintendo continues to put more of an emphasis on digital, it makes perfect sense to remove the region locks from the Switch, allowing dedicated fans to have access to games that don’t make it to their specific region without going through the arduous process currently required. As gaming becomes more global, previous region restrictions are just an annoying hurdle to be overcome. It’s time to be rid of it.
My Uncle works for Nintendo
While hardly guarantees, there are plenty of rumors from trusted sources swirling about, as well as logical conclusions to be made. Here is where things get interesting.
Revamped Virtual Console, headlined by Mother 3
The Virtual Console was a great addition to the Nintendo family on the Wii, but the transition to the Wii U saw the company asking players to repurchase all of their existing VC games. With the brand new account system that Nintendo has finally shifted to, it is easy to imagine unified purchases of virtual console games on the Switch, meaning that you will finally receive your copy of Super Mario Bros that you bought on every system so far right out of the box. Much more tantalizing, however, is the rumor that Mother 3 will be announced for the Switch Virtual Console, finally bringing the long-anticipated title to the west. This is hard to believe considering the game’s history, but everything seems to point to this happening. Eurogamer also reports the beloved GameCube is coming to the service, which would be a fantastic addition. A great virtual console would go a long way toward bringing Wii U and 3DS owners to the Switch.
Ubisoft’s full support
Ubisoft repeatedly throws its support behind new hardware, with its Wii U software releasing early and often. Rumors have repeatedly surfaced about the publisher’s Switch efforts, and CEO Yves Guillemot has praised the Switch concept in interviews, and other execs have argued that the console will unite the gaming audience. Among the most interesting rumors are a Mario/Rabbids RPG, Beyond Good and Evil 2 being Switch exclusive and a mysterious surprise, which could be something completely out of left field. Just as Wii U saw Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs ports, expect Watch Dogs 2 and Rayman Legends to find their way to the new console as well. It’s a great time to be a Nintendo-loving Ubisoft fan.
New 3D Mario
You might be wondering why this wasn’t listed under the shoo-ins, but I’m not convinced the game will make an appearance at the show. If it is a launch game, then yes, we will see the game. However, if the game is pushed into the summer or fall based on circumstance, I would expect Nintendo to only show a glimpse while announcing a title. It is more important to focus on launch window software at this point, while E3 would be a perfect venue for Mario’s coming out party.
This rumor makes too much sense to be false, as the fantastic Pokémon Sun and Moon squeeze every ounce of juice out of the 3DS and still run fairly poor. And while I just said I didn’t expect to see Mario if it wasn’t a launch window title, I expect Pokémon to make an appearance, if it is real, regardless of its release date. The series simply has too much momentum going into 2017 for Nintendo to save an announcement for a later date, and I believe that Pokémon can single-handedly guarantee the success of the Switch. Potential owners can be convinced to purchase sooner rather than later if they know that the future of Pokémon is on the console. The first quarter of the year has also become standard for Pokémon announcements, so the timing is perfect.
Already announced games
There is a small selection of already announced games for the Switch that we could see at the show, such as Sonic 2017, Dragon Quest 10 and 11, Just Dance and a few indies. While I expect Nintendo to focus on their first party with in-depth looks, the Tokyo-held event would be a perfect place for a first look at Dragon Quest or another Japanese-developed game. Sonic could potentially see a full unveiling at the event as well, as the franchise has found a perfect home on Nintendo hardware of late. Don’t expect these titles to be focal points, but we will most likely see them in some form.
There are plenty of things that we would love to see out of the Switch event, but most of these are simply hopes and dreams with little to know evidence suggesting they will occur. Let the speculation commence.
A bona fide upgrade program
Just as virtual console would be an incentive for current Nintendo players to make the console leap, Nintendo would accumulate a large amount of great PR if they created an upgrade program for Wii U owners, rewarding their support of a failed system. If you’re thinking that I’m crazy, remember back in 2011 when Nintendo slashed the 3DS price from 249.99 to 169.99 a few months after launch? The company rewarded players who purchased at the original price by giving out 20 free virtual console games as part of what they called the 3DS Ambassador program, which included 10 NES and 10 Game Boy Advance titles. While it wouldn’t need to be as extensive, a similar program for Wii U owners would sow a lot of goodwill with the fanbase.
Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy VII: Remake
While it began as a PlayStation-centric franchise, Kingdom Hearts has seen many titles release on Nintendo hardware. Because of this, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that the much-anticipated third main entry in the series will appear on Nintendo’s new console. While the collections have leaned into PlayStation, Kingdom Hearts 3 will be releasing on Xbox One in addition to PS4, leaving the door open for a Switch version. The game also runs on Unreal Engine 4 rather than Square Enix’s in-house engine, which immediately makes it more portable (heh) than a game like Final Fantasy XV would be. In the case of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud appeared in Super Smash Bros. along with a Midgar stage and a selection of music, giving fans a glimmer of hope that Nintendo will see the game that famously rebuked them over 20 years ago.
Nintendo rarely tries its hand at new IP, usually preferring to use existing characters and worlds for a gameplay idea than developing them from the ground up. However, the success of Splatoon might see Nintendo willing to take a risk with a new idea after seeing the third-person shooter sell over 4 million copies as of this time last year. A recent rumor lends evidence to this idea, saying that Nintendo is actively developing its “next Splatoon” instead of the next Wii Sports. The Switch event would be the perfect opportunity to show potential buyers that the new console means an all-new Nintendo.
The perpetual elephant in the room for Nintendo’s first party, the beloved developer of Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns has been silent since the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in early 2014. Could they be working on another Metroid? Donkey Kong? Another dormant franchise? How about a new IP? The possibilities are endless, which is partially what makes a potential announcement so exciting. Will it be at the event? Possibly, though my money is firmly on E3.
A friend list overhaul
Nintendo’s friend system is horrid and awful, but since it is similar in their recent mobile games I can’t expect much difference with Switch. But a man can dream, right?
We have many questions about the Switch, but they can’t possibly answer them all in one presentation. Here are the common topics that won’t be covered at the event.
Much has been made about the power of the Switch, but expect to know just as much on Wednesday as you do on Friday morning. Nintendo has never cared about power, and unless it is vastly more powerful than we have been previously led to believe, they won’t care about it on Thursday. Expect nothing more than a statement saying how happy they are to be working with Nvidia to power the machine.
Here’s another hot topic that won’t receive any love. Unless the battery lasts between 6-8 hours, don’t expect Nintendo to talk about it. It will be leaked out in the following weeks through a fact sheet that will inevitably leave us a little disappointed.
Besides Nintendo-friendly games like Skylanders, sports games and older games that present zero risk, don’t expect a presence from most of the big publishers (EA, Activision). They used the wait and see tactic with the Wii U and it paid off. Don’t expect a drastic change in course. EA already confirmed that Mass Effect Andromeda was not coming, which will probably set the tone for the fat cats of the industry.
The goal of this presentation is the clarity that was sorely lacking from the Wii U era, thus the messaging will be concise and clear. Mentioning accessories and peripherals only confuses that message. While they could slowly be announced in the coming press tour, the main event does not need the extra fluff. It will only serve to confuse an audience that was similarly baffled by the Wii U tablet vs traditional remotes.
Have any predictions that we missed? Disagree with our stance on a topic? Let us know in the comment section. But most importantly, get hyped for tomorrow! It’s the best time in a long while to be a Nintendo fan.