You’re feeling it, we’re feeling it: there appears to be a veritable drought of first-party Nintendo titles this spring. None, to be exact.
Sure, Nintendo launched a brand new console a mere two weeks ago. But one can’t help but gape at what is most certainly the largest scarcity of titles to come – or more accurately, not come – from the company in a long while.
Curiosity compelled us to take a look at all of the cartridge-based and disk-based titles Nintendo has launched over the past 10 years to see if there isn’t some sort of pattern or precedent.
Look at all of the titles that Nintendo published since January, 2001. Click image to enlarge.
More dramatically, compare the above data to only those titles that Nintendo developed in the same time period. Click image to enlarge.
What can we take away from Nintendo’s historic release cycle?
• Publishing for the DS exceeds that of the Wii both in terms of quantity and consistency. Nintendo leveraged an enormous amount of support upon the DS – support which we expect to see extended to the 3DS in the months to come. It’s no surprise, but Nintendo has been pampering all you portable gamers, because you’ve helped make them rich.
• Since the launch of the Wii, Nintendo has been releasing first-party titles for the Wii and the DS in alternating waves. Whereas in the past we observed simultaneous releases across both portable and home consoles, it’s becoming the company’s habit to unveil titles for one platform at a time.
• All this has happened before. The spring of 2002 was the longest Nintendo game drought on record, and has a number of characteristics in common with the season we’re entering now.
Nintendo has launched a major piece of technology (the 3DS) and is initiating the gradual retirement of a console with a large and reliable installed base.
While we entered into this data mining project with the presumption that we could recognise a pattern that presaged a new console release – the Wii 2, obviously – the last time there was a Nintendo game drought this pronounced was after the release of the Gamecube. Still, you can neatly overlay the release history of the Gamecube overtop the current release history of the Wii – they match that closely.
If anything, a drought at this point in the (terribly successful) Wii lineup might mean nothing – but smart’s money on a bunch of first-party Nintendo developers hard at work on launch titles for Wii 2.