OPINION: How Nintendo has FAILED to temper expectations for their Nintendo Direct

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Gaming has a new silent protagonist- Nintendo.

After over 300 painstaking days of waiting for a new Direct, Nintendo finally treated its fans to some new content in the form of a Nintendo Direct Mini.

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Inevitably, fans felt disappointed by the games shown off, hoping for more updates regarding mainline Nintendo series'. While the company was upfront that this Direct Mini would not cover their first-party IP, they are still responsible for failing to manage their devoted fans' expectations. Here's why.

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Nintendo's mis-marketing of their Direct's

When I think of marketing mistakes, I think of what Bethesda's Vice President, Pete Hines said on Twitter about The Elder Scrolls VI.

"If you're coming at me for details now and not years from now, I'm failing to properly manage your expectations."

Much of the immediate reaction to the Direct from those outside has had a somewhat condescending tone towards Nintendo fans for 'expecting too much' but, when a game publisher acts in the way Nintendo has, the sort of fan reaction is acceptable, if not understandable.

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If we go back to the Bethesda quote, Peter Hines became irritated at fans for wanting more TES VI information, replying to one comment with "JFC you guys are impossible. Enjoy your disappointment."

The onus for these expectations is not on fans, but rather on game publishers for announcing titles too early for cheap internet hype, rather than waiting until games are actually nearing the end of development.

Nintendo is, unfortunately, a key abuser of this marketing strategy. Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4 are just some of the 'and one more things' teased at the end of a Nintendo Direct without receiving a release date.

Bayonetta3
The number of years since the announcement of Bayonetta 3

What was once a fun, unexpected part of the Nintendo Direct has, much like the post-credit scenes in a Marvel film, turned into a predictable, troubling marketing strategy to get the Nintendo Direct trending on social media.

Pikmin 4 is also still in development, if you'd forgotten.

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The issue with announcing games early

Some of you may be wondering, "What's the harm in announcing a game?"

The problem in Nintendo's case is radio silence. In the 300+ days since Nintendo's last Direct, we've endured a General Election, global pandemic, and countless political crises. New information about these upcoming Nintendo games is long overdue, so much so that the announcement or reveal of any other games, such as those in the July Nintendo Direct Mini, are undermined.

The lack of information surrounding Nintendo's 2020 schedule completely overshadowed the announcement of Atlus' upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V, for example.

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Can we blame Nintendo?

Of course, there is one big elephant in the room when it comes to game development. Covid-19.

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The global pandemic has understandably stalled game development across the world due to issues stemming from the working from home arrangement. As Nintendo admitted that its marketing plans faced disruption because of the pandemic it's hard to take such a critical stance on the company.

Keeping this in mind, I still believe the company cannot afford to keep its fans in the dark for much longer, especially as we approach the next-gen of games consoles. We don't want to risk returning to the WiiU era of Nintendo.

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