While the Nintendo NX may be launching with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this does not guarantee success. The last Nintendo system to have a consistent, stellar release schedule was the Super Nintendo…25 years ago. The Nintendo 64 had a long drought without anything but Mario 64. The GameCube had an incredibly lackluster launch. The Wii launched with Twilight Princess and showed promise with third-party support, but the consistency simply didn’t hold with countless delays and less and less third-party support. The Wii U was supposed to have some great support, but Nintendo lost Rayman Legends, a fantastic game, as a third-party exclusive and had some of its most high-profile launch titles like Pikmin 3 delayed. The rest of the Wii U’s release schedule is abysmal. The Nintendo NX release schedule needs to be consistent in order for the console to be a success.
It’s great that the Nintendo NX release schedule includes Zelda at launch. This will do wonders for the system in terms of sales and perception. Yet, the cold hard fact is that Zelda cannot make a system great. The Wii U was a great piece of hardware but it failed because of the problem with its inability to put together a consistent release lineup each year. This is something that has been tormenting Nintendo for some time. It’s not like in the times of the SNES where Mario comes out at launch with Zelda coming out a year later, along with a lot of other neat third-party and first-party titles. This is a different era.
If the Nintendo NX release schedule can’t be consistent and balanced, the system will fall flat on its face. In order to be successful during its first year, it needs at least three major first-party AAA titles to come out, including Zelda. The first thing that would come to mind for me would be Zelda, Mario, Pikmin 4 (confirmed to be in development), and Metroid (Smash would be wishful thinking), with at least one new quality IP. Nintendo needs to show fans they are dedicated to sticking on schedule and giving them content when promised. I can’t tell you how long my Wii U collected dust for. Delays happen, but Nintendo takes it to an extreme. Mario Galaxy 3 would be a good idea for the first year. There also cannot be re-releases of relatively new games (three years or so) from the Wii U to the NX (i.e. a port with some “new” functionality). This is lazy, a copout, and there is no excuse for it. More importantly, consumers will see right through it.
The Nintendo NX release schedule also desperately needs third-party support, and not merely ports of currently released games like we got with Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U. To show that developers are committed to the console, they need to come out with at least two or three timed exclusives (or timed DLC) for the system. It would be great to get Final Fantasy XV. They also need to come out with their AAA games for the NX as well as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The only way the NX will stay alive and stay relevant is if third parties put it on equal standing with its perceived competitors. If it doesn’t do that, the NX looks like a laughing stock.
Another key for the Nintendo NX release schedule is to have a stellar holiday season in 2017. The past two years have been absolute jokes, as much as I love Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Nintendo cannot expect to have such a lackluster performance in the busiest shopping season of the year and stay relevant in the market. That is delusional. The holidays are prime for success and Nintendo needs to start things off on a good footing for the NX’s first Christmas if it’s going to succeed.
The last three Nintendo consoles have had abysmal release schedules. The software has been amazing, especially the Wii U’s (it has some of the best games of any system), but the lack of third-party support and a diversity of titles that was available during the days of the SNES has really hurt Nintendo over the years. It doesn’t matter how different the Nintendo NX is or even the fact that they’re not competing with Microsoft or Sony; they need to be treated as an equal instead of the child at the kid’s table, and this has been Nintendo’s major problem with regards to its perception.
The Nintendo NX has incredible potential and Nintendo sounds like they have quite a special idea for the system, but the Nintendo NX release schedule will determine its fate. It needs consistent, quality content, not just from Nintendo itself but strong third-party support if it’s going to stay important. Nintendo consoles will never go away, but if the NX is considered a flop, the perception will be that Nintendo is irrelevant. And that will be a very sad day indeed.