Nintendo and the struggle to announce games not too early or too late

Nintendo game announcements too early or too late: Shin Megami Tensei V, Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Tetris 99

There is a fine line when it comes to the proper timing of a game reveal. Showing off a game too early means that fans may wait years before it comes out and eventually lose interest or faith in its quality. Conversely, revealing a game close to its release is always appreciated, but does it give the developer enough time to market it and maximize the excitement surrounding its release? It’s fantastic that Paper Mario: The Origami King is almost upon us after being revealed in May, yet we’re still waiting to hear anything about Bayonetta 3, which was announced over two and a half years ago. Over the last few years, Nintendo has used both of these strategies when it comes to revealing new games, but which of these is working best? Here are what I think are the benefits and negatives to each approach.

Nintendo game reveals made too soon

Despite Nintendo’s generally good release schedule, there are still a few games that we’ve been waiting years for an update on. Shin Megami Tensei V was announced during the first presentation for Nintendo Switch in January 2017, but aside from some comments from Atlus and a short teaser trailer, we haven’t seen anything from the game since. While fans of the series were undeniably hyped in the beginning, how much interest and enthusiasm remains after three years with no news?

The same holds true for Bayonetta 3, which we haven’t seen since its reveal trailer in 2017. After such a long time without new information, players could lose interest, forget, or even believe that the game is having internal development issues, which is one of the biggest issues of an early reveal.

Nintendo game announcements too early or too late: Shin Megami Tensei V, Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Tetris 99

In the case of Metroid Prime 4, concerns of internal development issues turned out to be legitimate. After its surprise reveal, Nintendo went radio silent on its development until last year, when it was revealed that the game would be restarting development with Retro Studios. While it’s respectable that Nintendo was honest about this change, we wouldn’t have needed to know about it if the game weren’t revealed at such an early stage.

As a result, the eventual release of Metroid Prime 4 could still be years away from the outset of its restarted development, let alone from its first reveal. It may be difficult for Nintendo to sustain enthusiasm around it by the time the game eventually does release. Whether Metroid Prime 4 can eventually live up to the hype is another question, as any games in this situation have a lot of expectations to live up to after making gamers wait so long.

So with all of these issues, why would Nintendo reveal its games early at all? A likely reason to reveal a game early is to assure the audience that there is a bright future for the platform. Highly anticipated games like Metroid Prime 4 are coming one day, and Nintendo wants its players to know this. The company especially wanted players to know this during the Switch’s launch, following the failure of Wii U.

It’s a good method to sustain interest in the future of a console like Nintendo Switch, and during the inevitable droughts of game releases that every console has, it’s comforting to know there’s still something exciting on the horizon.

Fashionably late

Nintendo has been pretty good with releasing games within 6-12 months of their reveals for Switch. Games like Super Mario Odyssey were announced and released within the same year, and the recent Paper Mario: The Origami King is set to launch this week after being revealed two months ago.

The obvious benefit of this approach is that we get to play these anticipated games much sooner than we expected. The games are fresh in our minds and the anticipation is high, so naturally, this should be the approach that Nintendo should strive for, right?

In most cases, the answer is yes, though there are some caveats to consider. It’s arguable that a short time between announcement and release also means that there’s less time to market the game, which could be problematic for smaller games that need the exposure.

Nintendo game announcements too early or too late: Shin Megami Tensei V, Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Tetris 99

However, looking at examples of extremely quick releases like shadow-dropped games that are announced and released on the same day, we can see that these games often do get the attention they deserve. While this approach would have been crazy in the past, in the current age of social media, news of a shadow-dropped game likeĀ Apex Legends can go viral. It gets spread via word of mouth, and therefore social media does the marketing for the developer. Last year’s release of the free-to-play Tetris 99 did exactly this and was met with massive success.

All in all, the benefits of a later reveal and faster launch seem to far outweigh the negatives, and Nintendo seems to mostly understand this too, given how most of its games haven’t been announced too early since 2017. Let’s hope Nintendo has taken examples like Metroid Prime 4 to heart when announcing new games in the future.

How soon do you want to be playing a Nintendo game after its first announcement?

Chirag Pattni
Psychologist and long time gamer. Has a love-hate relationship with technology and enjoys all things Japanese.