Back on October 21, 2011 Nintendo embarked on a new journey with its unique Nintendo Direct video updates. These were designed to showcase the latest and greatest games and features coming from Nintendo and its third party publishers. Using trailers, hands-on gameplay, unique behind the scenes filming, and insights never seen before, these digital downloads directly to the consumer became a big hit. Over time they gained traction and viewers, going from 99,000 views for the first Direct all the way up to 1.1 million for the latest Direct last November.
Over the past five years the Nintendo Direct has evolved and delivered countless surprises. It’s no wonder that whenever one is announced the anticipation from Nintendo fans often goes through the roof. One never knew quite what to expect, and even the Directs that didn’t wow us with surprises were still filled with detailed information, straight from Nintendo. They were able to present it exactly the way they wanted to, leaving little room for misinterpretation. It used to be that we could expect a Nintendo Direct about every two months or so. Some were bigger than others, and a few focused on singular games, but they were frequent enough to keep Nintendo in the spotlight. They felt like mini-E3s scattered throughout the year, each one carrying an air of excitement.
That’s why it’s so unfortunate that they’ve drastically slowed down. When Mr. Iwata passed away last summer it was a devastating loss to Nintendo and its many fans. It was understandable that it would take time to heal and to get the company back on track. It was natural for there to be a moratorium on the Nintendo Direct program. Assuming we count Nintendo’s Digital Event at E3 as a Nintendo Direct (which I will, since the format is very similar), there was a five-month span where Nintendo fell silent and didn’t broadcast a Direct. Its return was glorious and exciting. It was filled with new information and exciting reveals, and I was happy to watch it from beginning to end several times after it initially aired. In December we got a Super Smash Bros. Direct to announce the final batch of DLC for the games.
Historically we are due for a Nintendo Direct any day now. In fact, every year since the Nintendo Directs began we’ve had an episode in January or February. Here’s a rundown of past Nintendo Directs:
October 21 – Nintendo Direct
February 22 – Nintendo Direct
June 3 – Pre-E3 2012 Direct
June 21 – Nintendo Direct
September 13 – Wii U Direct
October 2 – New Super Mario Bros. 2 Direct Mini
November 7 – Wii U Direct
November 14 – Wii U Direct
November 27 – New Super Mario Bros. 2 Direct Mini
December 5 – Nintendo Direct
January 8 – Pokémon X & Y Direct
January 23 – Wii U Direct
February 14 – Nintendo Direct
March 13 – Flipnote Studio 3D Direct
April 17 – Nintendo Direct
May 17 – Nintendo Direct
June 11 – Nintendo Direct @ E3
July 18 – Nintendo Direct Mini
August 7 – Nintendo Direct
August 9 – The Wonderful 101 Direct
September 4 – Pokémon X & Y Direct
September 18 – Wii Fit U Direct
October 1 – Nintendo Direct
November 13 – Nintendo Direct
November 27 – Louvre Direct
December 18 – Nintendo Direct
February 13 – Nintendo Direct
April 8 – Smash Bros. Direct
April 10 – Tomodachi Life Direct
April 30 – Mario Kart 8 Direct
June 10 – E3 Digital Event
August 4 – Hyrule Warriors Direct
September 4 – Bayonetta 2 Direct
October 23 – Smash Bros. Direct
November 5 – Nintendo Direct
January 14 – Nintendo Direct
April 1 – Nintendo Direct
April 24 – Xenoblade Chronicles X Direct
May 7 – Splatoon Direct
June 1 – Micro Direct
June 14 – Smash Bros. Direct
June 16 – E3 Digital Event
November 12 – Nintendo Direct
December 15 – Smash Bros. Direct
NONE SO FAR
So, obviously it’s not quite time to panic, as there very well could be a Nintendo Direct just around the corner. In fact, it would seem a likely candidate with everything that’s planned over the next few months. Not only are Fire Emblem Fates and Zelda: Twilight Princess HD on the docket, but there’s also Pokkén Tournament, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Star Fox Zero, Bravely Second, and of course the whole Nintendo Account, My Nintendo, and Miitomo launches all taking place soon. And that’s just what we know about. Still, the Wall Street Journal did report that last year Mr. Kimishima (Nintendo of Japan’s president) mentioned that the company would overhaul Nintendo Direct – whatever that means.
It does bear mentioning that the past two months it seems like Nintendo has returned to its pre-Nintendo Direct days of holding information close to its chest. We get an odd press release here and there and trailers of upcoming games trickle out, but it’s not as coordinated as a Direct. There’s no build up of excitement and no rhyme or reason to when these things happen. It’s literally a matter of checking Nintendo’s YouTube page or Twitter account every couple of hours each day to see if a new nugget of information has been “announced”. I feel these types of reveals are far less impactful and only the most hardcore of the hardcore Nintendo fans will see these types of announcements.
On top of everything else, since Nintendo isn’t fully controlling the message with a Nintendo Direct, many times the information can be confusing or misinterpreted. Two good examples of this took place in recent weeks. Initial information on Twilight Princess HD was confusing because of a leak on some French retailer site that stated the Wolf Link amiibo would unlock a new dungeon. This was days before Nintendo announced anything official. By the time a video came out explaining the amiibo usage, many people were already outraged at the thought of an entire dungeon being locked behind a toy. Turns out it’s just the Cave of Ordeals. Wait. No it’s not, it’s a new challenge dungeon called the Cave of Shadows! But that’s just another misunderstanding from the initial information that trickled out from Famitsu before Nintendo had a chance to deliver the final word via gameplay trailers.
Another confusing issue has been about Miitomo, Nintendo Account, and My Nintendo. That’s because for the most part, all of the information has been coming from financial slides that were in Japanese. A few days later when they were officially translated, some aspects were made clearer, but it took an official press release from Nintendo (again not coordinated as some territories sent it out before others) to make it crystal clear as to when the programs are rolling out. Although, even now, we don’t know an exact date for Miitomo’s launch in the U.S. other than sometime between March 15 and March 31.
Suffice to say, Nintendo Directs take the guesswork out of press releases and disseminate the information to all territories at the same time. They show us what to expect and do a better job explaining detailed information rather than a bunch of paragraphs in an official release. It’s no wonder there’s some confusion out there recently regarding various facets of Nintendo’s business, especially when many sites will report the news from a press release, but don’t publish the official press release alongside their own work. I always try to do so as there’s always a difference in sentence structure and sometimes meanings can change depending on how something is read.
Let’s hope Nintendo Directs make a triumphant return. I liked the new, open Nintendo that shared things directly with us. I miss Iwata Asks and I feel like we’re just one step away from deteriorating back to the way Nintendo was before Iwata took over. He changed the way Nintendo communicated with its customers and it would be a shame to see that disappear forever.