In the lead up to E3 2017, many Nintendo and fighting game fans were expecting to see either an enhanced port, in the vein of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, or an entirely new entry for the Super Smash Bros series on Nintendo Switch. On the surface, it seemed like a logical idea: The new Smash amiibo are finally coming after a lengthy wait, and if Pokken Tournament was getting a DX version, then certainly Smash deserved one. However, while Smash is definitely coming to the Nintendo Switch, there was never a chance it was going to be at E3.
Coming into E3 2017, Nintendo had two fighting games for the Nintendo Switch right around the corner. ARMS is a brand new IP, and was set to release the day after the show. It’s initial reveal made it seem like a goofy, motion-controlled Nintendo game, but the well designed characters quickly developed an active following, and the Global Testpunch sold virtually everybody on the game. ARMS is yet another example that Nintendo really can make just about anything work, while breaking the rules of a given genre.
Nintendo is riding Twintelle’s curves to their next Splatoon-like hit.
As if one online fighting game wasn’t enough, Nintendo announced Pokken Tournament DX via a poorly received Pokemon Direct, right before E3. The original release was a success, if one that was greatly limited by the poor sales of the Wii U. It’s a great entry point for fighting games, something the genre desperately needs in today’s market. The Nintendo Switch release is Pokken’s chance to establish itself as one of the top selling fighting game franchises.
Both of these games have very active, vocal communities that Nintendo wants to grow. The Nintendo Switch is a legitimate successor to the Wii’s winning sales legacy, and will likely sell 60M+ units, if Nintendo can get the parts to make the damn things, so the games will be on a successful platform. That’s step one in the process of building up franchises. Step two is giving them the spotlight. Catch my drift?
Super Smash Bros was never going to be at E3 2017, because Nintendo wanted to highlight ARMS and Pokken Tournament DX. A new Smash announcement would have overshadowed these games right before their debuts. Smash is so large a franchise, that it doesn’t need to be on the E3 stage to reach a wider audience, especially considering Nintendo has developed their Direct’s into big events all their own. In fact, saving a Smash announcement for a Nintendo Direct would function similarly to a second E3 stream, in terms of viewership.
It should be common knowledge that a new Super Smash Bros. title is in the works for the Nintendo Switch, be it Smash 4 DX or Smash 5. Nintendo’s not going to let the reigning king of the fighting game genre hang in limbo for too long, so it’s just a matter of time until it’s announced. I’d imagine it won’t be announced until after Pokken Tournament’s release window, though, so as not to step on any toes.
Do you agree that Nintendo held back on a Smash announcement to give ARMS and Pokken their time in the limelight, or do you have another theory? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.