With a seriously impressive lineup of games, how could Nintendo NOT win E3 2019?

They say hindsight is 20/20, but even well before E3 it was obvious to me: Nintendo was going to win this year’s show hands down. I mean, take a look at Nintendo’s lineup of games:

  • Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3:
    The Black Order
  • Astral Chain
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Cadence of Hyrule
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Daemon X Machina
  • Metroid Prime 4
  • Bayonetta 3
  • Detective Pikachu
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Before I get any questions, yes, both Dragon Quest games are being published by Nintendo (and not Square Enix). If that doesn’t scream stacked lineup, nothing does. That’s 16 Nintendo-published games in development and all—save the Zelda BOTW sequel—we knew about pre-E3.

With 15 known games—most of them big-name titles, too—the odds of Nintendo walking away from E3 with the most buzz was essentially guaranteed. And given that the PS4 and Xbox One lifecycles are winding down, Nintendo taking the proverbial crown was even more assured.

You might also like: Nintendo’s E3 Direct Roundup

The state of the competition

Competition


There’s no denying that PS4 and Xbox One are in their respective sunsetting phases. Both consoles released in November 2013, making this their seventh year on the market. Console generations typically last around six to seven years, so they tend to wind down right about now.

Before E3, plenty of forecasts pointed at Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles arriving in November 2020. That launch month now seems plausible, as Microsoft confirmed during their E3 Showcase that Xbox Scarlett, their next console, is coming “holiday 2020”. Sony is likely to follow suit with a similar launch window; if they do, it means the current-gen consoles have about a year and a half’s worth of juice left.

So, what does all this mean? Sony and Microsoft are clearly finishing up their final projects for PS4 and Xbox One respectively. Both platforms holders are unlikely to announce titles for PS5 and Xbox Scarlett until next year at the earliest, and most likely at E3 2020.

Next year will be their big moments when they unveil PS5 and Xbox Scarlett, including specs, pricing, release date and launch titles.

Sony knew full well their announcements this E3 would be slim, i.e. mainly updates on their big three titles: Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II. Sony opted to not even show up at E3 this year.

Xbox did decide to host an E3 conference. However, aside from a new Microsoft Flight Simulator game, Forza Horizon 4 LEGO DLC and Bleeding Edge, not much new first-party content was showcased. The majority of the Xbox conference consisted of first-party games we already knew about, along with big name third party games like Cyberpunk 2077, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Borderlands 3.

Taking all of this into consideration, it’s not surprising Sony and Microsoft were holding their cards tight to their chests at E3. Next year will be their big moments when they unveil PS5 and Xbox Scarlett, including specs, pricing, release date and launch titles. There will be plenty of huge titles dropping on PS4 and Xbox One in the interim, but we shouldn’t expect too many huge new game announcements over and above games we already know of.

The state of Nintendo Switch

Switch


Moving our attention over to Nintendo Switch, at just over two-years-old, the console is right in the middle of its prime growth phase. As of March 31st, 2019, Nintendo’s sold 34.74 million Switches—a huge number for a console that continues to break sales records. While Sony and Microsoft still adhere to traditional console cycles (for now), Nintendo has always marched to the beat of its own drum.

Given how early Switch is in its lifecycle, it’s no surprise Nintendo has announced so many big games in development. What’s impressive, though, is just how many they plan on launching in the second half of this year. Here’s what the remainder of their 2019 looks like:

  • Cadence of Hyrule – June 13
  • Super Mario Maker 2 – June 28
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 – July 12
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order –
    July 19
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses – July 26
  • Astral Chain – August 30
  • Daemon X Machina – September 13
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening –
    September 20
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition – September 27
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Fall 2019
  • Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield – November 15

Nintendo has so many games in the pipeline, we’re getting nearly a game every week in July and September. That’s seriously impressive and shows how many cylinders Nintendo is firing on simultaneously.

What’s even more astounding is when you look at the individual titles. We’re getting new entries in popular franchises like Fire Emblem, Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, Luigi’s Mansion, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Super Mario Maker. Nintendo is also pushing new IPs hard, with games like Cadence of Hyrule, Astral Chain and Daemon X Machina. It’s a diverse lineup with something for everyone.

Given that Nintendo historically announces new games during their E3 Direct, we had to expect even more announcements beyond their vast first party slate. That’s exactly what happened with reveals for No More Heroes 3, Panzer Dragoon Remake, The Dark Crystal, Trials of Mana, New Super Lucky’s Tale, The Witcher 3 and many more. Their E3 Direct video was punchy, powerful and left a lasting impression—mission accomplished for Nintendo.

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Paul's Take

Author

Given all that we knew prior to E3, it was clear the major trade show was Nintendo’s to lose. Sony didn’t even bother showing up, and Xbox was always going to hold back somewhat with next-gen looming on the 2020 horizon.

With 16 known games in pipeline from Nintendo—the majority of which are releasing this year—this was always going to be a stellar E3 for them. Amazingly enough, we didn’t even get updates on key titles, like Bayonetta 3, Detective Pikachu or Metroid Prime 4, and I still feel Nintendo came out on top.

I didn’t think Nintendo could beat their monumental 2017 lineup that consisted of heavy-hitters, like Splatoon 2, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. However, 2019 at least rivals it. You could even argue it’s a better lineup, but we’ll save that for another article.