The Nintendo Direct Format
I love me some E3 conferences but holy hell you guys, I do not need to sit through 90 minutes plus of your presentation each. Nintendo's "here's 20 minutes of everything followed by 20 minutes dedicated to our big title of the year" format fits well with their marketing methodology and removes most of the fluff the rest of the conferences have in favor of just...showing you the games. The other conferences are built as much, if not more, for shareholders as they are gamers. The result is the flashy and filler-laden shows we've come to accept as normal that take 3 times as long to deliver the same amount (or less) of information.
Nintendo also has established a wonderful habit of not typically showing you games they can't deliver in the next year. There are exceptions of course, but the overwhelming majority of what they showcase at E3 (and really, any Nintendo Direct) are things that are coming in the next few months. Nothing shown at this Direct has a release date further away than 9 months. How many titles have we seen at other E3 conferences that are next year at best? How long have we been seeing teasers and trailers for other games that are finally upon us? I'm not going to pretend this phenomenon is limited just to games (hey movies, I'm looking at you), but just because it's normal doesn't mean it should be normalized. I will also not pretend that the frequency of Nintendo Directs doesn't have anything to do with it; it's a lot easier to generate hype for an upcoming title with a more timely release of information on it when you have a direct presentation to your audience multiple times a year.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
While billed as a new game, what we've seen would classify it as a remix at best. It is bringing back every character that has ever been in a SSB title, and likely most (if not all) of the previous stages. It was even said during the Direct that they hope we don't expect to see a lot of new characters because their goal was to bring back all the old ones. Sure, everything has a new layer of polish and it's not completely devoid of new faces (helloooooo Ridley), but for all it's prettier graphics and new match-ups it frankly isn't really a new game.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm glad there's another SSB title coming and I look forward to kicking serious butt in it, but for an event with as large of a presence as E3 choosing to spend the majority of your time talking about a title that caters to long-time fans without presenting anything new to draw in a new audience is an odd choice. That said...what else would they have shown us?
It isn't surprising we didn't see any news on Metroid Prime 4. Disappointing, but not surprising. Simply seeing a title card last year did not instill any confidence there'd be more to show this year, but a girl can dream. This seems to be following the Breath of the Wild pattern, which would hopefully mean next year is a giant MP4 party. Also in the disappointing-but-not-surprising category? Pikmin 4 and a new Animal Crossing. The rumor mills have been hard at work on those two for a while (with Pikmin 4 initially being mentioned by Miyamoto way back in July 2015), but with no official word on them there was no real reason to think they'd suddenly drop those titles on us.
What was surprising was the lack of Yoshi. Last year we saw a solid chunk of gameplay for a new Yoshi title, and normal practice would say that amount of gameplay should have led to a showcasing this year with a release date of either 2018 or early 2019. Instead? Nothing. Nadda. Not even a whisper. A break from convention is worrisome for the status of that game, which is a shame because it looked heckin adorable.
Nintendo has recognized they have lost their edge and are trying to find it, and it's obvious they are looking to what has been successful for other game houses. That's why we're getting ports of already successful titles that would never have been found in the Nintendo library before and getting games that follow closely in the footsteps of other successes that go outside of their typical formats. My favorite example: Breath of the Wild, a game that is the result of Nintendo recognizing something as being popular and sacrificing their formula in favor of following that one. BotW was a good game, but it wasn't a good Zelda game, and I will fight that point to the death.
The unintentional upside to the Switch's still limited library is that it provides a fantastic opportunity for indie developers. A smaller catalog means more people who are casually browsing for new things to play are more likely to see your game than they will on other currently available platforms (especially Steam). I certainly hope this doesn't remain the case, for the sake of the system, but for now I am glad any indie's who are able to put the effort in to creating a Switch version of their game will get more visibility.
I am looking forward to the new Mario Party and to SSBU, but as a hold out who has yet to buy a Switch I am finding little motivation to go out and purchase one just yet.