No, NX isn’t on our list
The Nintendo Financial Results are due to be announced on 28th October. Can you feel the tingle of excitement, the buzz, the hype, the uncontrollable giddiness? No? Well, fair enough, but you should have a bit of anticipation for the next couple of days.
Every three months Nintendo gives its quarterly financial results update – this starts off with a PDF that we lovingly summarise, in which Nintendo gives a minor status briefing on major recent releases, shows whether it made a profit and provides updated hardware sales figures. All interesting stuff if you’re that way inclined, while an extra document occasionally includes updated release windows for upcoming games.
Naturally we cover all of that when it drops, but it’s what happens in the hours and days that follow that can be more interesting. Typically there’s a President’s Presentation and then the Investor Q & A, published in that order. The latter can be fascinating courtesy of the detailed answers given on topics such as company strategy, yet it’s the President’s briefing that can actually contain key reveals.
Don’t believe us? Well, examples of previous reveals in these presentations include the Mario Kart 8 release date, DS games for the Wii U Virtual Console, the Wii U GamePad quick start update, and perhaps most notably amiibo – when it was still called the Nintendo Figurine Platform. Quality of Life – as a concept – can also be counted in that list, and let’s not forget that the first mention of NX was in a briefing for the DeNA partnership announcement; the latter wasn’t a financial presentation, to be fair, but similar in terms of the nature of the event.
So while there won’t be the volume of reveals seen in a Nintendo Direct, the timing for this one does point to some potentially interesting details to emerge; so we’ve decided to pick some out in a short list. You may notice immediately that NX isn’t on this list – Nintendo has stated over and over again that this system will be revealed in 2016, so we have no reason to doubt that as yet; it may get a cursory “please be patient” mention, but we’ll see. We also doubt the next Nintendo Direct – assuming it’s coming – will be announced either, as there’s simply no precedent for that.
So, onto the list.
1. Nintendo and DeNA’s first smart device game
This seems like the safest bet for multiple reasons. The timing is correct, for one thing, with DeNA making noises of details being close and the fact that this first game from the partnership has repeatedly been stated as a 2015 arrival. As it’s nearly November an announcement to preface some pre-launch hype is to be expected.
This is also an announcement perfectly tailored to investors. Let’s not forget that Nintendo’s healthy share value has come about largely off investor excitement in the potential revenues from Nintendo franchises appearing in iOS and Android games. The NX announcement earlier in the year will have contributed too but, let’s not kid ourselves, the financial markets have shown extra enthusiasm for Nintendo shares when its DeNA agreement or Pokémon Go have been on the agenda.
We’d be very surprised if this isn’t the most notable announcement made by Tatsumi Kimishima in his first President’s Presentation.
2. Details on the Club Nintendo successor
The timing is certainly right for this, and depending on the nature of this loyalty program it could certainly be outlined this week. With DeNA’s involvement in bringing this together – due to its expertise in online services – this could well feature in presentations around the progress of that partnership, as an addition to the first smart device game highlighted above.
This is also ‘due’ as well, with Club Nintendo closing down quite some time ago in North America and a little more recently in PAL territories; the ‘Fall’ window originally announced for the successor is rapidly closing.
As for what form this will take, it’s probably safe to assume – based on concept diagrams from Nintendo earlier in the year – that it’ll link directly into Nintendo Network IDs and have online services that are nicely optimised for accessing on smart devices. Unlike the legacy of the old Club Nintendo being somewhat separate from NNIDs and the eShop stores, a substantial level of integration and – hopefully – easy accessibility should be at the core of this.
3. Quality of Life and the ‘Sleep Sensor’
Quality of Life (QoL), the separate business area previously announced to broaden Nintendo’s scope, has been largely posted missing in recent times. Last year Nintendo announced that a sleep sensor would be an early product of this health-driven product range, but there’s been little said since. Investors who were told this would become a useful new revenue stream for Nintendo from 2016 onwards are sure to be curious to see more.
If QoL is outlined in some detail, it’ll be intriguing to see whether that sleep sensor concept has evolved, and also to gain an understanding of whether this range will interact – in any way – with other Nintendo hardware. As products the goal is likely to be to ensure that they can work in a standalone capacity – perhaps utilising smartphone apps as accompaniments – but it’ll be interesting to see whether optional interaction with the 3DS, for example, features.
4. Statements of intent, or otherwise, for Wii U and 3DS
Wii U and 3DS owners are likely to watch the wording around statements on the systems closely, in order to determine just how much love the systems will still get. Nintendo’s in a tricky spot as it’s no doubt invested substantial resources into the NX, but on the flipside won’t want to upset existing customers too much.
Our gut instinct is that Nintendo will try to emphasize the slate of games already confirmed for 2016, which is fairly packed on 3DS and has titles like Star Fox Zero and Pokkén Tournament on Wii U. Close attention will also likely be paid to any talk of ‘leveraging popular titles’ or phrases of the like, in light of feverish and persistent talk of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and more Wii games supposedly in line for the eShop.
The worst case scenario for current-gen fans is that the Wii U and 3DS will only get brief, minimal mentions in the President’s Presentation; considering the fact investors are the intended audience here, that’s a possibility.
5. Details on more IP tie-ins and licensing
Nintendo’s been pretty busy in the licensing area, announcing plans to team up with Universal Studios and even securing special amiibo editions for Skylanders SuperChargers. There’s certainly more activity from the company in terms of toys and merchandise, along with film cameos in the critically-panned Pixels, so the company has clearly been focused on this area.
We suspect this will get a little bit of focus both in Kimishima-san’s presentation and in investor questions, as strengthening the Nintendo brand – which has declined a little since the Wii / DS era, it’s fair to say – to win over consumers for many years to come is surely a priority. Nintendo still has plenty of clout and valuable IPs, and there’ll be an expectation that they’ll be maximised in high-profile partnerships.
Those are some key topics we think could be covered in the upcoming financial results releases and presentations. By the end of the week we may have a different picture of some important Nintendo areas; it’ll be fascinating to follow.