If you planned to attend E3 this year in hopes of getting some hands-on time with Nintendo's NX, you might want to return your plane ticket. Though the NX reveal is still happening this year, we won't be seeing it at E3. In fact, Nintendo's 2016 E3 presence is going to be subdued compared to previous years.
"NX will not make an appearance at the upcoming E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles in June and will be unveiled later this year," Nintendo states in a press release distributed earlier today. The release sums up an investors' meeting about the company's annual earnings, and contains information about the upcoming NX reveal, Nintendo's future mobile plans, and its E3 2016 presence -- which, it seems, will revolve around the new Legend of Zelda game that's launching simultaneously for Wii U and NX.
According to the press release, "This June, Nintendo will focus its [E3] attentions on the upcoming game in The Legend of Zelda series. The Wii U version of the game will be playable for the first time on the E3 show floor, and it will be the only playable game Nintendo presents at the show, in order to provide attendees a complete immersion.
"The latest instalment in this classic series is scheduled to launch simultaneously for both Wii U and NX, and both versions of the game have been in development in tandem."
Nintendo also promises "additional information about Nintendo’s E3 plans will be announced in the future," meaning we might still see an E3-themed Nintendo Direct as per previous years (nobody's going to say "no" to news about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, and / or a Mother 3 Virtual Console release). But there's no doubting the NX won't be at E3, and that the new Zelda will be Nintendo's only playable game on the show floor.
Nintendo's news has boggled some minds, to say the least. The lack of an NX reveal is a big deal, though Nintendo never promised we'd see its new system at the show. We just took it for granted.
We also took it for granted that we'd be playing the NX by Christmas, but that's not the case either. The NX is "scheduled to launch in March 2017," alongside the new Zelda game.
This all begs one important question: Outside of Pokémon Sun and Moon, what the heck will Nintendo serve up this Christmas?
The lack of an NX reveal at E3 2016 isn't a disaster. Sony revealed the PlayStation 4 outside of E3, and the unorthodox unveiling didn't hurt the system's fortunes. And, again, Nintendo never made any promises. We projected our wishes on the company, so we can't be angry over those wishes going unfulfilled. Nintendo currently doesn't have a date for the NX's debut, but late summer / early fall is a decent guess.
2016's lack of Zelda Wii U, however, is more of a heart-breaker. Nintendo's press release claims the game's developers need the extra time to polish the game, but it's no coincidence the delay means the Wii U version of the game will launch alongside the NX version -- which, in turn, will launch with the NX itself.
The Wii port of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess made the system's launch pretty exciting, so it's easy to understand why Nintendo wants its new Zelda title to be present at the NX's debut. Still, Wii U supporters who've been waiting for the system's supposed pièce de résistance might be feeling like schmucks, or like they're being cheated. Zelda should've been on the Wii U ages ago, but because of the NX, it's not. Indeed, barring some kind of E3 2016 miracle, it looks like Wii U owners may be out of luck this holiday season, and forever thereafter. It's an obvious move given the Wii U's less-than-stellar performance at cash registers, but it's still sad.
Wii U supporters are well within their rights to be upset, but owners of mobile devices (e.g. the entire world) will be intrigued by Nintendo's upcoming plans for the platform, which was another major focus during the meeting. We can expect mobile games based on the Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem franchises, both of which Nintendo plans to release this fall. Nintendo also announced Miitomo has passed 10 million unique users, prompting the company to hold a celebratory promotion from April 29 through May 8.
Interestingly, Nintendo's announcement about its lack of NX at E3 has attracted nearly as much attention as an actual NX reveal. The company appears to be entering starvation mode in preparation for the launch of its next system, and it's impossible to look away. Nintendo's bare-bones holiday 2016 lineup isn't going to convince anyone to pick up a Wii U in December.
Obviously, Nintendo knows the risks of a lean holiday as much as anyone. It also surely realizes it's shafting Wii U owners. Nintendo must be incredibly confident about the NX. Those of us on the outside don't have grounds to be confident just yet, but we sure are curious about the system.