Nintendo FY2016 Earnings Results: the madness

A few hours ago, Nintendo announced their results for the just-ended FY 2016 (from April 1st, 2015 to March 31st, 2016), and outlined some of their plans for the upcoming Fiscal Year and OH GOD WHAT HAPPENED. Yeah, I’ll have to admit, most of the news I’ve read left me surprised, a bit baffled, and shocked. Now that a few hours have passed, and reactionary feelings have cooled off a bit, here’s my take on what has been already stated, before tomorrow’s Investor Meeting. A long introduction is not necessary this time, so I’d say to get right into the

No, not that. Already enough on the web today, seriously.

NX has a release date!

…and it’s March 2017

Good old IGN guys, they always get me.

March 2017, i.e. Q1 2017, was…unexpected. Nintendo never (and I want to stress it, never) confirmed the console would’ve been released, it’s true, but there were several signs (or just assumptions) pointing to a late 2016’s release: Nikkei’s report about Wii U’s production end, both Wii U and 3DS’s internal titles release schedule, several rumours and that leak from the NeoGAF user Trevelyan99 a few months back, complete with marketing budgets. It’s fair to assume something happened and that there were, indeed, intentions for a late 2016 release that were abandoned for March 2017. This kind of delay is not that much, if you look at the mere months, but it’s highly relevant when you see that the release period is shifted from Christmas and end-year Holidays to a less eventful month like March. This is a major change. Now, does this mean NX is, with no doubts, destined to have a bad launch because it launches outside of the Holidays? …No, in my opinion. The period surely helps, but March is still a good month sales-wise (so many titles getting releases right before the end of the Fiscal Year), both software and hardware wise, especially compared to the period between April and September. Also, it won’t be the release period to make it or break it for NX, it’ll be the NX itself. Think about PS2’s great launch numbers in Japan (around 1 million in two weeks), or 3DS’s first week (despite the awful price and launch lineup), or PS3’s sales in Europe (despite the insane price). Heck, think about the New 3DS in the West back in February: thanks to Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, it sold great in both February and March. Now, 3DS, PS3 and New 3DS aren’t completely great examples, because their sales decreased quickly / very quickly shortly after the launch, but it wasn’t due to the launch period, but for all the already-mentioned “despites” showing themselves in their true form once the launch excitement wears off. So, it makes sense to hear this coming right from Kimishima-san’s mouth

When asked why Nintendo wasn’t launching the NX in time for this year’s big holiday season, Kimishima explained that Nintendo wanted to make sure there were games to go along with the NX.

So, they want things to go as smoothly as possible. And Emily Rogers rumours about the potential astounding amount of Nintendo support for the platform is not scratched by the (supposed) delay of NX’s launch. It just means (hopefully, for the love of God!) that droughts will be even less of a problem with a later launch and a tighter first party lineup. I believe the launch games were getting ready for an Holiday release (except for Splatoon, maybe?), but others were not as much, thus Kimishima thought it would have been better to cut the droughts as much as they could. However, I suppose there were other reasons for the delay, like possible problems with the hardware / SDK that need a little more ironing out, or a further brainstorming between executives in trying to find the best release period, etc.

Also, Q1 2017 was the latest I was expecting NX to release anyway, due to the relevance of the platform for the FY. But no 2016 sucks.

Zelda Wii U is also coming to NX

…and it’s delayed to 2017 for a simultaneous Wii U / NX release

Such a trend I see. The official statement about it is “quality reasons” and…now, I’m sure a few more months can help to refine even more what has to be a shocking (positively) game, but if you think this is the real reason the delay happened (or better, the major one), you’d not see the whole picture. It’s so obvious that, with NX slated for March, Nintendo wants one of the major launch titles for the new platform to not be released a few months after the Wii U version. It’s literally the Twilight Princess situation all over again: the game announced back in 2004, at E3 (epic moment), then delayed, then confirmed for Wii alongside Gamecube. And it becomes a Wii launch game, with the Gamecube SKU releasing slightly later. In Japan, the GC version wasn’t even available at retail, just on Nintendo Online store. It makes sense: an unfortunate piss to loyal Wii U customers, but it makes sense.

New mobile games announced, ft. Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem

This is a smart move. After Miitomo, Nintendo said that the next apps would have been more “games” and more related with their IPs. Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing both satisfy these conditions. Now, before anyone starts saying that there won’t be no FE/AC game for dedicated hardware anymore…ah! You should know by now that Nintendo’s intent with mobile is to create something specific for the platform, that can both attract mobile users to the “premium” experiences on their consoles and become a good gain source, eventually (even if I don’t think Miitomo had that as its main purpose, rather expanding the reach of Nintendo Account / getting people into MyNintendo). They are great fits: Animal Crossing because it’s a franchise that plays well for the mobile audience, and Fire Emblem due to its current recognition…Fates has already surpassed the total shipment for Awakening, and the game has yet to be released in Europe. It’s a major Nintendo IP, now, after risking to be shelved in case Fire Emblem Awakening didn’t sell as much as hoped. What a turnaround. Both apps will be launched in the Fall, so this should line up well enough with Nintendo’s plan to release five apps till March 2017. This all makes sense, like how it’s mentioned that the Animal Crossing app is strictly connected to “the world of Animal Crossing on consoles” (hello, companion app). So far, despite the disappointment (now softened by the cooldown), I’ve yet to see something that makes completely no sense, absolutely, batshit insane and

No NX at E3, focus on Zelda, the ONLY playable title at the event

Sorry if I had to summon you, Doug, but insane situations require insane summons. WHAT.

THIS is my biggest disappointment with today’s event, in the end. I was waiting for this E3 to see Nintendo finally unleashing details on the platform, but…no. It won’t happen. The delusion is high. But, despite what most people will say…this is not a sign of Nintendo losing the battle before even fighting, or something like that. Yes, E3 is important, not showing your upcoming platform at the event is a strange move, but it’s not as important as it was before. We’ve been hearing this story for a while, especially after Nintendo started ditching Live Press Conferences for Nintendo Directs first, Digital Events later. This year, software houses like Activision, EA, Disney and Warhammer have already announced they won’t join E3 this year (even if EA has a concurrent event at Los Angeles). Major publishers saying “No” to showing their own upcoming big titles at a major event like E3 is interesting. Also, the hype game’s been changing for a while: social networks, better distribution of web connections…you don’t need a big event to let people know about something, it’s not SO necessary. If there’s an event, even if outside major physical events, people will report that it’s happening, media will post the news about it. Apple has been using separate venues for their own announcements, complete with live streaming, and I don’t think they’re doing badly due to this. The Nintendo Direct themselves have shown an insane growth of viewership (as production values went higher) in the past years, both concurrent and total: E3 2014 was actually “dominated” by Nintendo, between the Digital Event and the Treehouse Live, with a great amount of concurrent viewers. Even regular Directs can get 200,000+ concurrent viewers between YouTube and Twitch alone. Those are pretty good numbers, especially for regular, non bombastic Directs. …And, yet, this didn’t translate in such a surge for Wii U sales back in 2014, or in a major boost for 3DS either. Or, just think back at how 3DS dominated E3 2010, and then the launch problems. Or how Titanfall was pumped up to be the next big thing of all time and, while it surely did very well, it didn’t help Xbox One sales as both MS and EA hoped (far from it), it started going on sales soon enough and the engaement rates went down quickly. Yeah, what I want to say, after all, is that E3 / Conferences are just a part of the whole hyping machine, and the current possibilities give different opportunities for events to happen and to be considered. Heck, today news was published on CNN website, despite not being at E3

You have to nail that part for sure (and you can do it even outside of E3, IMHO), but, again, it’s just a part: if the months after the reveal are filled with disappointing details, games’ delays, games’ cancellations (it’s a pre-release period, it can happen), footage not looking hot, etc. the anticipation goes down rather quickly. Again: news now can spread very quickly, both positively and negatively. That’s how Microsoft lost the mindshare back in 2013, and that happened for news and events before E3 (the whole TVTVTVTVTV debacle and the DRM / online debacle), and how Sony went in at E3 2013. That’s how 3DS lost anticipation going from the reveal to the launch. And let’s not even talk about the long-ass wait for Wii U.

Also, a separate event can be a good way to get the spotlight all alone, without competition of any kind. And I don’t think they’re not bringing NX games and console at E3 due to immense problems with the hardware and software. Wii U itself had some tech demos back in 2011, in its first E3 (…it’s so crazy to think Wii U had two E3s before launch, while NX zero. Zero. 0. Nada). It’s probably because they want to have the best impact possible with their NX messaging: as clear as possible, as focused as possible, with one sort-of-exception in Zelda, since the Wii U version will be shown at E3.

Now, while I said I’m not contrary to the idea of the NX announcement outside E3, their actual E3 management…it’s a freaking nightmare.

How in the hell is even possible to think that having just Zelda Wii U as a playable demo on the floor is a reasonable idea? Where’s all the 3DS content coming in 2016 (yep, 3DS has a good flow of content, after all, between first party games, localisations and other things)? Why is there no plan for Pokémon Sun and Moon? Why no Paper Mario: Color Splash, a title that supposedly comes out, well, BEFORE Zelda (Summer 2016 v.s. 2017…but we all know it’s getting delayed now to “spread” the lineup a bit more. “Lineup” being an interesting use of the word too). And yes, I’m perfectly aware that Zelda as the only playable game in the booth doesn’t mean it will be the only game Nintendo will talk about at E3. The games I’ve already mentioned will be mentioned for sure, alongside one-two further announcements (for 3DS + Mother 3 for Wii U VC for sure), but this reduction to just one game (even if it’s Zelda) available to the press to play is just absurd. The justification?

  • E3: Nintendo changes its approach to the show every year. This June, Nintendo will focus its attentions on the upcoming game in The Legend of Zelda series. The Wii U version of the game will be playable for the first time on the E3 show floor, and it will be the only playable game Nintendo presents at the show, in order to provide attendees a complete immersion. Additional information about Nintendo’s E3 plans will be announced in the future.

“in order to provide attendees a complete immersion”

“provide a complete immersion”

“complete immersion”


HOLY SHIT THIS SPIN IS AMAZING. We’re Microsoft levels of spinning here. The only thing I can do here is laugh hard, and hard and hard.

…Imagining all their booths as a reproduction of a Zelda village to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the franchise is kind of cool, I’ll admit it, but this is just baffling.

So, yeah, disappointed but still not worried for most of the details, but this E3 will be awful, even if Zelda could be great (and someone could even say that Zelda alone is better than Amiibo Festival, Federation Forces, etc.etc.). I’m honestly intrigued to see if and what the upcoming Investor Briefing will add to what we already know. And the Q&A segment could be epic, if the right people ask the right questions. No, not “I’m better than you. And you! And you! And I want to show you I can manage Nintendo 10 times better!!!”. But questions about their E3, for example. Especially the paragraph about the complete immersion. God, I’m so going to use that expression as a joke in the future.

See you soon, world

P.S. #westandforfemalesingamingindustry


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