Nintendo Co. Ltd. opted to skip a live press briefing at E3 again, instead using an online video to highlight its forthcoming Nintendo Switch games before opening up its large booth at the annual video game conference.
The title generating the most buzz at the busy booth was "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate," a multiplayer fighting game set to launch Dec. 7 for the Nintendo Switch console that features a large roster of characters from various Nintendo franchises as well as a host of popular ones from various third-party publishers.
"The enthusiasm for this franchise has always been high, but I think the main factor driving consumer interest to a new level this time around is simply the Nintendo Switch," Ken Jager, assistant manager of internal communications at Nintendo, told S&P Global Market Intelligence. "Consumers had been demanding this since the Switch's launch last year as the console's hybrid approach just goes perfectly with the game's social and multiplayer approach."
Other major draws at the booth were "Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu" and "Pokémon Let's Go, Eevee," the first core titles in the wildly popular franchise for the Nintendo Switch. The games will launch Nov. 16 alongside a new Bluetooth game controller called the Poké Ball Plus that allows players to use motion controls to catch Pokémon within the games. The ball-shaped controller has a built-in speaker, vibrating motors and flashing lights built in to emulate the sounds and color of the Pokémon "captured" within. The device is also compatible with the "Pokémon Go" mobile game for iOS and Android and allows players to trade Pokémon between their phones and Switch consoles.
"There are millions of people who have played Pokémon Go on their mobile devices but have never experienced the mainline games on Nintendo's handheld consoles and vice versa," Jager said. "These new titles and the Poké Ball Plus allow us to bridge the gap between the two experiences."
Nintendo also dedicated a sizable portion of its booth space to the third-party titles that are set to launch on the Switch this year, including Electronic Arts Inc.'s new soccer game "FIFA 19" and "Fortnite," one of the most popular multiplayer games in the world. Jager said that the game was downloaded 2 million times in under 24 hours after its June 12 launch on the Nintendo Switch and that number is only expected to swell in the coming days.
The lack of popular third-party titles on the Switch's predecessor the Wii U is widely considered a major reason for the console's poor performance in the market. Nintendo is trying to avoid that mistake with the Switch and is in constant talks with publishers to keep a steady stream of titles coming to the console.
"We maintain a very healthy relationship with indie developers in particular," Jager said. "They are very happy with how easy we make it to develop and publish their games on the Switch, so we will continue to see a great number of titles in the months and years to come."
Additional E3 2018 coverage:
Microsoft pushes game-streaming service to the forefront
Sony sticks to games, stays silent on VR, streaming
Microsoft boosts gaming with new acquisitions, streaming initiatives