It’s been over 160 days since Nintendo’s last major Direct in September 2019. For the purpose of this article, we’re defining full Nintendo Directs as broadcasts focused on multiple games aired in multiple regions.
Only 2016 saw a larger gap between Directs (183 days between March and September) since the initiative started in 2011, and that was only due to Nintendo’s decision not to hold a presentation at that year’s E3.
[UPDATE: Nintendo will live stream an Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct on Thursday, February 20, it’s announced.]
Typically, Nintendo premieres an announcement-heavy Direct in either February or March to kickstart its marketing plans for the year.
However, the platform holder has left its first-party game announcements unusually late in 2020, with only March’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons and a Xenoblade remaster announced for this year.
2019’s first direct took place on February 13 – a calendar year tomorrow.
However, many 2019 releases had already been revealed in the final Direct of the previous year, including Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Animal Crossing (which was later delayed). Fans also knew to expect Yoshi’s Crafted World, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
In comparison, 2019’s final Direct focused on software releasing that Christmas, with only a Xenoblade Chronicles remaster announced for 2020.
Although the wait between the platform holder’s presentations is longer than when the initiative started in 2011, Nintendo has diversified Direct with smaller presentations focused on indie games and individual franchises such as Pokémon.
In the February 2019 Nintendo Direct, the platform holder announced a large number of new first-party games for the year, including Super Mario Maker 2, Astral Chain, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Tetris 99.
In its latest earning results, Nintendo said Switch had sold 52.48 million units as of December 31, 2019, up 10.81 million units since its second quarter ended September 30.
In the same investor Q&A, Nintendo’s president said Nintendo Switch is entering “the middle of its life cycle” as it approaches its fourth year.
Shuntaro Furukawa told investors he was taking a long-term view in his plans for Switch, which Nintendo will continue to support with a dual-strategy of both releasing new software and supporting existing releases.
“The most important thing [for us] is whether we can maintain the momentum of Nintendo Switch,” he said, adding that pushing the portable-only Switch Lite to expand the audience was of particular importance.
“In terms of software, in addition to continuously introducing new software, we believe that it will be very important to continue our efforts to sell titles that we have released so far,” he added.
“We believe that the Nintendo Switch business is now in its fourth year and is just in the middle of its life cycle. Rather than just the next year, I think about things in terms of what to do the following year and the year after that.”