It’s exciting to think that we’re only a couple of months away from being able to get our hands on the Nintendo Switch, the successor to the disappointing Wii U. With many questions still remaining regarding the console itself, including pricing, available games at launch, and even the detachable screen’s battery life, Nintendo has organized a big presentation on Jan. 12th in Tokyo that will provide answers to all of these questions. Still, we can’t help but think that Nintendo will have a few more surprises in store for they much-hyped event, as it’s not unreasonable to say that their future as a console manufacturer hinges on the Switch’s success or failure. Here are a few predictions I have for what will go down at the presentation.
Minecraft Announced as a Launch Title
Minecraft is the kind of game that Nintendo really wishes they had created, as evidenced by Shigeru Miyamoto’s recent comments about supposedly coming up with a similar idea back in the 90s. Although the Wii U finally got a port of the game in 2015, the console’s low install base prevented it from being the success it really should have been, as Minecraft really does feel like it belongs on a Nintendo platform.
That’s why I think Nintendo will announce a Switch port at their presentation this month, potentially as a launch title (assuming Microsoft, who owns the intellectual property (IP), allows it to happen). As one of the best-selling video games of all time, Minecraft is pretty much a no-brainer to have on any platform, but the Switch’s focus on portable gaming could make it a potential system seller, as it would be extremely easy for friends to get together and play/build.
9. Big Indie Presence
While everyone is excited to see what first and third party surprises Nintendo has up its sleeve at its presentation, I think that there will be a considerable indie presence as well. Whether it’s the Xbox One, PS4, or PC, indie games are becoming an increasingly important factor in every platform’s content strategy and although Nintendo has released its fair share of indie titles on the Wii and Wii U, it’s never really been a huge focus for the company.
Both Playtonic Games and ConcernedApe have confirmed that Yooka-Laylee and Stardew Valley, respectively, are coming to the Switch, but there’s potential for all sorts of indie developers to port their creations over, especially if the Switch proves to be a sales success. It will be interesting to see which titles Nintendo has secured so far when they take the stage on the 12th (but hey, at least we know we’re getting Stardew Valley, which is going to be incredible on the go!).
8. Zelda Will Be Confirmed as a Launch Title
Despite being the Nintendo Switch’s biggest confirmed title, Nintendo hasn’t officially confirmed whether or not The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be ready in time for the console’s launch in March. Earlier reports suggested that the game wouldn’t be ready until June, a perplexing decision on Nintendo’s part given how closely associated the game has been with the Switch up to this point. However, there are now reports coming out that suggest that the game will indeed be ready in time for launch, at least in North America.
While it’s doubtful that the game will be bundled with the console, Breath of the Wild will undoubtedly drive sales if it launches alongside the Switch, so it would be a terrible move on Nintendo’s part if they don’t get up on stage on Jan. 12th and confirm that gamers will be able to pick up a copy with their Switch in March.
7. GameCube Virtual Console Games Confirmed … But Controllers Won’t Be
According to a report from Eurogamer back in December, the Switch will add GameCube games to the Virtual Console, with titles like Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Smash Bros. Melee apparently ready to go at launch. While I have no doubt that Nintendo will confirm this rumor at their presentation, one thing that I think will disappoint some people is that the Switch will no longer support GameCube controllers — or at the very least, Nintendo will no longer produce the controller adapter for the Wii U.
While I do personally believe that the GameCube controller is one of the finest ever made, it’s also going to be three generations old by the time the Switch is released and at some point, Nintendo is going to have to let go of the past and just move on. After all, I’m sure GameCube games will work perfectly fine with the Switch pro controller, so it’s probably not worth wasting time and resources on making GC pads compatible.
6. Pokemon Sun and Moon Port Announced
According to a report from Eurogamer, Nintendo will bring its 3DS hit Pokemon Sun and Moon to the Nintendo Switch in late 2017 and I see no reason to doubt this rumor. Pokemon was absolutely huge in 2016 thanks to the combined success of Pokemon Go on mobile and Pokemon Sun and Moon on 3DS, and given the Switch’s portability factor, it makes perfect sense for Nintendo to release its most recent portable iteration on the console. If I had to wager a guess, I would say that it probably won’t just be a straight port job, but rather add a few features that weren’t in the 3DS version. Oh and you just know it’s going to have a few new Pokemon to catch!
5. Skyrim Confirmed … But It Won’t Have Mod Support
One of the biggest surprises in the initial Nintendo Switch announcement video was that Bethesda’s acclaimed open world RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was shown being played on the system; not only because it’s a five year old game, but because it suggested that the Switch would have strong third party support, as Skyrim’s publisher Bethesda has never really supported Nintendo hardware in the past. Although Bethesda director Todd Howard confirmed that his company will be supporting the Switch back in November, the company has still not officially confirmed that a Skyrim port even exists.
However, based on reports that have popped up since the Switch’s announcement back in October, it looks like Skyrim will indeed be coming to the console and I’d even go so far as to predict that it will be a launch title. That being said, I highly doubt that the Switch port will have mod support like the recent remasters we saw on PS4 and Xbox One, mostly because of the issues Bethesda had with Sony getting mods on PS4. Given how backwards Nintendo is with many things, they just don’t seem like the type of company that would play ball with something like mod support, which is still a relatively new development on consoles.
4. Two Different Versions Available At Launch
Despite not working out very well for them last time around, the leading rumor is that Nintendo will do something similar to the Wii U’s launch by having two different versions of the Switch available at launch. It’s predicted that a basic model will sell for around $249.99 USD and a premium version with more storage capacity (and maybe even a pack-in game) will sell for $299.99. While early rumors suggested that the pack-in game would be The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it seems much more likely that Nintendo will lean on tradition and include a copy of their new Mario game, as they really need to Switch to land with consumers. Whether or not this is the final price, it’s safe to assume that the Switch will be competitively priced with both the PS4 and Xbox One and will most likely be cheaper than either of those systems.
3. New Metroid Game Announced
To be fair, this is more of a hope than a solid prediction, as there is nothing to suggest that Nintendo has a new Metroid game in development, but hey, maybe they’ve just been really good at hiding it? If Nintendo were to announce a new Metroid game, the most obvious situation would be that it’s a new Metroid Prime game developed by Retro Studios, which is certainly possible considering we don’t know what they’re currently working on (and it’s expected that they will announce their new game at the presentation).
Although I’m not personally holding out much hope that a new Metroid game will be announced, as it’s not a franchise that drives console sales, it is a beloved franchise all the same and unveiling a new title would definitely represent a goodwill gesture on Nintendo’s part to help sway the many lapsed fans out there who are sick of seeing the company continue to ignore Metroid (and no, Federation Force doesn’t count).
2. New IP Revealed
Although very few titles have been officially confirmed, we do know that Nintendo is planning to launch the Nintendo Switch alongside a new 3D Mario, an updated version of Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, and Super Smash Bros., just to name a few. Nintendo is sure to devote quite a bit of the Switch presentation to its stable of popular franchises, but every so often, the company will introduce a brand new IP and the Switch represents the perfect opportunity to do so. Nintendo had considerable success with its most recent new IP, Splatoon, and that was on a console that hardly anyone purchased, so it’s fair to say that whatever they introduce next stands a chance of performing much better.
1. Nintendo Will Announce A PSN/Xbox Live Equivalent
It’s already been confirmed that Nintendo will do away with its silly practice of tying user accounts to systems, which is definitely a move in the right direction, but it’s about time that the company borrowed a page from its competitors and had a competent online strategy that makes sense for the year 2017. On that note, I think Nintendo will reveal a whole new user account strategy that borrows heavily from the models used by Sony and Microsoft on their consoles, although it likely won’t be as robust as what either of those companies offer.
And while I don’t think it will happen, I think it would be in Nintendo’s best interest if they developed a subscription model equivalent to PSN and Xbox Live that offers regular discounts on digital games and also offers a few free ones to subscribers each month. Oh and if the Switch doesn’t have some sort of Achievement/Trophy system, Nintendo should probably just give up the ghost altogether.