Nintendo Switch Analysis Update

Time for another look at how the Nintendo Switch is doing in the markets. Bloomberg reports that Nintendo beat analyst’s prediction for the second quarter by a large margin. The company reported an operating profit of 16.2 billion yen ($145 million). The analysts predicted 10.6 billion yen. Bloomberg quoted an analyst as follows: “The reason profit beat estimates is of course the Switch,” said Keiichi Kozera, an analyst at Tachibana Securities Co.’ No kidding Kozera. But what does this mean for the overall numbers in terms of hardware?

Nintendo sold an estimated 1.97 million Switches during the quarter. Add that to the 2.97 million sold in the first month, and we’re close to 5 million consoles. Way back on release night, I mentioned that the Nintendo was anticipating shipping 5 million units this year. It would appear they were right, and they remain on target for shipping 10 million units this financial year (note that I’m using “units sold” and “units shipped” synonmyously here. I probably shouldn’t but what the hey I’m not a journalist). In other words, the Big N is doing quite well so far.

On the software front, NintendoLife reports that 13.6 million units have been sold globally. That’s a decent number against 5 million consoles sold, assuming the 5 million units are in homes and not sitting on retailing shelves somewhere (hint: they’re probably not). Zelda still leads the pack with 3.92 million sales, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a close second at 3.54 million. I wonder what 3rd party is looking like, but as far as I know there has not been any major third party release yet.

The Switch is looking more like it’s a huge hit for the company. Though I still believe they should invest in open retro consoles as a viable option. Fanboys can dream, right? And if you didn’t look at my old post, I predicted 30 million consoles sold throughout its lifetime. Analysts predicted 55 million. If Nintendo can keep this pace up over six years, we all might have been wrong.

Valve Talks about Steam Changes at Unite 2017

Valve employee Alden Kroll presented Steam changes from the company perspective at Unite 2017. Full video embedded below:

Valve has pushed a number of changes to the storefront and community over the last year. One of the chief problems, for gamers and companies alike, remains discoverability. In fact that’s a main problem for most things on the internet, but I digress. Here are the revelant points in the talk (thanks to the commenters on the video):

  1. Steam Platform Overview: 1:37
  2. Distributing on steam: 8:57
  3. Upcoming Store updates: 13:20
  4. Upcoming Client updates: 21:50
  5. Conclusion 25:09
  6. Q&A 26:12

SNES Classic Edition Announced for September 2017

Nintendo created quite a stir yesterday when the company announced the SNES Classic Edition, the long rumored follow-up to last year’s NES Classic. The SNES Classic will launch on September 29 of this year with 21 games and two SNES pads. The unit will retail for $79.99. It should go without saying this will be a rare holiday gift this year. If you plan to get one (or several), you should bump it up on your priority list. While Nintendo says they’re ramping up production to meet anticipated demand, they don’t plan to continue making them after this year. So if you don’t manage to get one on the 29th, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with scalpers on the River and the Bay. If you’re in the US, you can sign-up for an email notice from Amazon now.

Enough of that. Here’s the breakdown of the games:

SNES Classic Games (First Party)

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Kart
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • F-Zero
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • StarFox
  • Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Earthbound

And, of course, StarFox 2 – the finished-but-unreleased sequel to StarFox – will be included on the roster.

If you were to take a survey of all the Nintendo games that anybody owned in the SNES era, you would probably see all of those listed. This is a sampling of the golden age of the Big N’s game development prowess. Two Kirby games seem excessive; I would have rather have seen Pilotwings (yes really), but that’s a small quibble. There’s only one glaring omission to my eyes: SimCity.

SNES Classic Games (Third Party)

    • Street Fighter II Turbo (Capcom)
    • Super Castlevania IV (Konami)
    • Donkey Kong Country (Rare)
    • Mega Man X (Capcom)
    • Contra III The Alien Wars (Konami)
    • Secret of Mana (Squaresoft)
    • Final Fantasy III (Squaresoft)
    • Super Ghouls & Ghosts (Capcom)

The Third party list happens to include three of my favorite games ever. In fact, astute readers of this blog will remember my posts about SFII Turbo from earlier this year. (And didn’t I just write something about Contra?) Again, I challenge you to find somebody who lived through the SNES years and didn’t play, own or hear of any of these games. I’m a little disappointed that Chrono Trigger wasn’t included, but if I’m being honest, I’d take Secret of Mana over that title any day. I had my fingers crossed that Mortal Kombat II would make the list, important as it was to the history of the console, but I’m not surprised it’s not here. That game doesn’t fit in with the tenor of the library anyway.

There are some other third party titles that would have been nice to have: Turtles in Time and Final Fight come to mind immediately. But these are minor, entitled complaints. There’s hundreds of hours of gameplay here. Many of these games appear high on everybody’s “Best of all Time/Greatest of all Time” lists, year after year.

StarFox 2

Game Informer was nice enough to repost a video that breaks down StarFox and StarFox 2. I’ve embedded this video below (about 7 minutes long).

Super Shortage

We’ll close this with a few words about the SNES Classic’s life cycle. Several outlets have noted that Nintendo will produce “significantly more” than the 2.3 million units that ultimately got shipped for the NES Classic. According to the company, it will only ship the system from September 29 until the end of the year. So again, if you’re keen on owning this novelty item, you better plan ahead and set aside significantly more cash than 80 bucks plus tax. I was able to get an NES Classic thanks to my wife, and she admitted she paid “a few times” more than its list price. Frankly it sucks, but this is par for course for the console maker and the aftermarket guys.

From Nintendo’s mouth:

“Our long-term efforts are focused on delivering great games for the Nintendo Switch system and continuing to build momentum for that platform, as well as serving the more than 63 million owners of Nintendo 3DS family systems,” reads the statement. “We are offering Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition in special recognition of the fans who show tremendous interest our classic content.”

Consider that your fair warning. This is truly a limited edition thing. Of course, if all you care about is the games, most of them are already available on the Virtual Console…and other ways. And if you really want to own the authentic article, you can shell out cash for the originals and any of the Retro consoles out there, or even an original SNES.

I wonder if they’re planning to do this for the Nintendo64.

E3 2017 Thoughts and Reactions

Quick post today for my final E3 2017 thoughts. Firstly, Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there. I’ll be resuming a regular schedule now that E3 is over. Starting tomorrow I’ll give an update on the Makers from the last two weeks, and we’ll get back to Read From Memory: FFVII and some long plays, among other things.

If you need a refresher, I listed all of the games that got some time during the pressers:

“Winner” of E3 2017

Anway, my E3 2017 thoughts: Overall I found the pressers underwhelming this year. I know the game journos get obsessed with who “won” E3. In my view, as the media gets more democratized every year, the trade show has become less important. Can anybody actually “win” an event that’s becoming irrelevant? But we should respect tradition, right? And we have our pet companies or products we like to root for and see do well. So if I had to choose, I would give “Winner of E3 2017” to Ubisoft. They had a strong presentation: they didn’t pander with social media stars like EA and didn’t show off a collection of trailers for games we already knew about (Bethesda). They also get points for showing off original IP. Skull & Bones looked spectacular.

And come on, they announced Beyond Good & Evil 2. It may not be on the same tier as say Half-Life 3 as far as legendary whales still out there, but it was getting close. I have some reservations about Ancel’s opus, as do others, particularly about the tone and feel of the game.  But for now, let’s bask in the glow of the fact that the sleeper hit of 2003 is finally getting its long overdue sequel.

Console Makers at E3

I wasn’t particularly enthused by the Microsoft presser, though I admit they did much better this year overall in their presentation. The XBox One X (X.B.O.X.), formerly Project Scorpio, feels pricey at $500. This appears to be a new precedent with this generation: initial release of the platform; a slim-line revision of the hardware and price drop; a “1.5” hardware update half way through the cycle; followed by an ultra souped-up version to round it out. But something tells me that you whiffed when the most buzz you produce is from backward compatibility with your very old games and a controversy over an indie developer’s 3-year-old tweets.

Sony coasted this year, despite their very impressive stage theatrics. Ending the conference with a lengthy Spider-man demo says it all. But they may have earned it. Four years into this generation of consoles, it’s pretty safe to say that Sony has “won” the battle this round. I wonder about their commitment to VR. There are some impressive looking games, but the jury’s still out if it remains a fad. Practically speaking a $800+ buy-in for the tech is still a bit too rich for my blood for novelty. As for the rest, I just want to play the games at this point: God of War 4, a new Uncharted, etc.

As for Nintendo, well, they’ve cut down on their press conferences, which I still think was a wise move on their part. Metroid Prime 4 got a pretty announcement trailer and generated the associated buzz, though I’m still a little mystified that they chose not to give the Samus Returns remake any time during the presentation. Mario Odyssey looks fantastic, and the news about the core Pokemon RPG was somewhat exciting for a quite a few. Nintendo remains a unique creature. I would like to see more for the Switch regarding third party support, though with Rocket League, Minecraft cross platform with Xbox, and their own version of Skyrim, FIFA, etc., I grudgingly admit that they’ve got most of the bases covered.

Panels

I only managed to catch one panel with Hideo Kojima. It was what you would expect: a softball session mainly about the movies he enjoys and some of his philosophy on making games that we’ve all heard him talk about before. As promised, there was no news about Death Stranding at all. I wonder if the lingering conflict with Konami is having any effect on the game’s delivery? The best place to find out about the influence movies had on Kojima as a designer remains a series of essays he wrote over ten years ago for PlayStation UK magazine. They appear (in Japanese…) in the promotional book Metal Gear Solid Naked, but some translations are floating around on the net if you dig.

In closing, E3 2017 wasn’t a great show, and it reflects the declining importance of the big gala on the West Coast. The fact that it was open to the public this year speaks to that. Let’s look forward to GamesCon this summer and the Tokyo Game Show in September.

 

 

Devolver Digital vs. ESA

Just a quick post for today. Devolver Digital put on a bizarre press conference late Sunday night, after Bethesda. I had no idea that there was additional tension between the publisher of the bizarre (and good) and the ESA. From Dual Shockers:

Apparently, Texas-based Devolver Digital — who is known for publishing an array of some of the best and some of the weirdest indies in the industry — lost a whopping $100,000 after the City of Los Angeles prevented it from using a parking lot it had rented to expand its E3 presence.

So what went down? Well, it all started with Devolver renting out the aforementioned lot in order to double its presence (which it decided to do because for the first time ever E3 was allowing the public — 15,000 people of the public — to attend the show). For those who aren’t familiar with what the indie publisher does each year at E3: it rents out of a parking lot at Hooters across the street from E3, where it showcases a variety of games, has free food and drinks..it’s essentially E3’s own festival.

Devolver Digital rented out an additional parking lot next to this Hooters, which the ESA usually reserves for E3. With the doors opened to the general public this year, the company decided to add the space. But the City of LA denied them use for anything but a parking lot this year, which co-founder Mike Wilson alledges was done at the behest of ESA.

One of the stranger stories to come out of the show this year.

E3 2017 Coliseum Day 2 panels

Sorry for not posting this again yesterday, I was preoccupied with the Nintendo E3 Treehouse. The panels are in progress and you can watch them on YouTube, Twitch, and FB Live.

Here’s the link to the YouTube stream:

I’m going to check some of the panels later on if they’re available on replay. I am interested, of course, in Hideo Kojima’s talk which should begin at 6:15 PM EST.

Some other news of note, particularly Steam Direct launching yesterday (June 13) I’ll dig into that some time next week.

Sony E3 2017 Conference Highlights

Sony E3 2017 Conference highlights are below. These are the games that were shown during the media show.

Games

  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
  • Days Gone
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
  • Call of Duty WW2
  • God of War
  • Detroit Become Human
  • Destiny 2
  • Spider-Man

PlayStation VR

  • Elder Scrolls Skyrim VR
  • Starchild
  • Inpatient
  • Moss

Bethesda E3 2017 Highlights

Bethesda held its E3 2017 Press conference. Below are highlights from the briefing.

Games

  • The Elder Scrolls Legends – Heroes of Skyrim (June 29, 2017)
  • Fallout 4 VR (2017)
  • Doom VFR (2017)
  • Quake Champions (2017)
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (September 15, 2017)
  • The Evil Within 2 (October 13, 2017)
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (October 27, 2017)

Announcements

  • Creation Club, for Fallout4 and Skyrim. Custom content, made by Bethesda Studios and outside creators, downloadable for credits.
  • Quake World Champions with 1 million USD prize pool at Quakecon, August 26th in Dallas Texas.