In an age of endless delays, Nintendo’s first-party flow is extraordinary

Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Image: Nintendo/MonolithSoft

When Advance Wars 1+2: Restart Camp Postponed earlier this year due to current events in Ukraine, an interesting prospect made the rounds. It meant a longer than normal gap between Nintendo retail titles, and we had to wait – gasp – to play for a few weeks Kirby and the forgotten land. Likewise with the delay of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 until ‘Spring 2023’; It looks like we will just have a new generation of Pokémon to enjoy this holiday season. Gosh, tough times, although of course Nintendo will have a direct or two that will likely fill in even more gaps. We were disappointed that Zelda was pushed back to next year, but there’s no shortage of other Switch games to have our fingers crossed.

We’re in an extraordinary position where Nintendo releases a retail game – often a big one – nearly every month of the year. Of course we don’t buy all or at all want all those titles, but the point is that the Switch has a constant flow of high-quality games year-round. It has been so for most years of its life cycle, although we have had some quieter moments during peak periods of lockdown and disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, this does not even include the big games from third-party providers and the steady stream of fascinating indie/eShop titles.

Nintendo, it has to be said, has always been prepared for this. Up until 2017, the company’s core business model was to support two key pieces of hardware simultaneously – a dedicated home console and a (usually) more successful handheld. However, this became a problem in an underperforming generation – Nintendo struggled with this in the 3DS and Wii U era and essentially had to put the console on the back burner to focus on saving the portable device. Those struggles and the financial challenges that came with them were one of several factors that led the company to adopt Switch’s hybrid approach.

Image: Nintendo / Next Level Games

The merger of its development departments and teams began back in 2013, and Nintendo also has a number of trusted partners and a small number of acquired studios to fall back on. In the next few months, Next Level Games will bring us Mario Strikers: Battle League, while MonolithSoft has Xenoblade Chronicles 3 not far behind. Oh, and longtime partner Koei Tecmo is also supplying Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. There will also be several notable new additions in the fall and winter.

Games like this, all exclusive titles and IPs, help keep the Switch in the best of health for all the arguments about its aging tech. People say it’s passed its sales peak, but that says the obvious – it’s over five years old! However, as a fun fact, Switch is expected to sell more hardware units than PlayStation 5 this year; The lack of chips is a major factor, but let’s remember that the Switch is now in its sixth year as a 2015 tablet masquerading as a console. As always, Nintendo hardware is more than the sum of its parts.

As Nintendo fans, we often go through the line-up for the year and break a little sweat when there’s an empty month… but elsewhere in the gaming hardware market, the picture is a little different

It’s interesting, however, that as Nintendo fans we often go through the lineup for the year and sweat a bit when there’s an empty month, or wonder if an undated game like Bayonetta 3, for example, will fill in October will. Elsewhere in the gaming hardware market, however, the picture is a bit different. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S are having relatively quiet years, and there are still a few modest months ahead. It’s a lesser issue on PS5 (and PS4) – the company has received a number of cross-gen titles in a timely manner since the new system launched. There was Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon forbidden west already this year, both massive games, and God of War Ragnarok is apparently still due in 2022. Sony may also refer to (often timed) third-party exclusives Ghostwire: Tokyo this year, although not all upcoming titles in this category will likely reach mainstream levels.

At Xbox, meanwhile, Microsoft is in a tight spot. Despite all this Windows wealth and all the company’s acquisitions, there are currently some zero First-party exclusives confirmed for 2022, and none so far this year. This was exacerbated by the recent delays of Starfield and Redfall into next year, the only Xbox Game Studios titles actually locked in for 2022. As mentioned, the first half of this year hasn’t brought any major first-party games to Xbox. and last year there was a delay Halo infinity and ForzaHorizon 5 groundbreaking, but notable gaps in schedule. That’s after Series X|S launched with no new first-party games unless you count the Gears Tactics console port.

For a more direct comparison, let’s take a look at the first-party released games from each of the big three over the past year.

First-Party Exclusives FY2021/22 (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022)

Note. This list excludes Switch exclusives that Nintendo has either released or distributed in some regions (mainly outside of Japan), such as B. DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power and Triangle Strategy. It also includes titles that had a PC version but were exclusive to a single console.

Microsoft is certainly lagging behind in the first-party games department, and it looks like a chaotic picture for the Xbox for the next year or so, too. The industry is awash with rumors of major Xbox projects rebooting, studio overhauls, and many games with no release windows. No doubt Microsoft will bring something for 2022 in its big showcase next month, but ultimately it’s under a lot of pressure to do so. From an Xbox perspective, the jailbreak map is Game Pass, the low-cost subscription that brings in new (and some older) third-party players monthly, and a value proposition that most gamers find too good to pay attention to .

Of course, we should recognize that the dynamics and deals here are quite different. Sony and Microsoft compete at the high end of the gaming market in terms of hardware, and one dilemma they face is the demand for increasingly immersive gaming experiences. High-profile projects now have massive development budgets, team sizes in the hundreds (or even thousands) and sky-high expectations; Delays and budget overruns are almost the rule. Sony and Microsoft also get pretty much all of the major triple-A titles from third parties, so even in the absence of exclusives, there are often big-name multiplatform titles for PlayStation and Xbox gamers.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet IMG
Image: The Pokemon Company / Nintendo

Nintendo, on the other hand, supports weaker, bespoke hardware and usually misses out on most of these big-budget third-party games. The Switch isn’t all about 4K, ray tracing and cutting-edge graphics technology, and gamers/consumers of all levels will intuitively understand that. It’s the more affordable option for games that are often geared more towards being colorful, creative, and fun. While there are many gamers who will deconstruct the technology, the fact is that most don’t – Nintendo’s identity since the DS/Wii era has been one of experience over graphical ability, uniqueness over virtuoso technical demonstrations. Nintendo games can still look beautiful today, albeit at 1080p and without HDR. And of course with the nice hook that we can play on the go or at home on the TV.

Nintendo’s history, the way it has continued to grow in-house development teams while maintaining strong third-party partnerships, and the fact that it’s developing for a tablet-like device gives it several advantages. A near-monthly turnaround of first-party games released that millions want to play is just one of those benefits, while Sony and Microsoft struggle with triple-A development budgets and projects. From life-consuming JRPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to light-hearted and more affordable family plans like Nintendo Switch Sports, there’s almost always something to look forward to on Switch in the near future.

How long this inherent benefit lasts depends on how the industry and Nintendo’s hardware evolve over the next five years. Ultimately, though, we wouldn’t bet on Nintendo continuing to forge its own path while doing its utmost to maintain that exceptionally steady stream of quality games that’s worked well for everyone this console cycle. In an age of endless delays, Nintendo’s first-party flow is extraordinary

Fry Electronics Team

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