Games Inbox: Nintendo Switch 2 summer announcement theory

The Tuesday letters page is worried about ads in full price games becoming standard, as one reader reveals Zelda’s maths-breaking attach rate record.

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Tempting freebie
I’m really starting to think that Nintendo will announce the Switch 2 at Gamescom in August and maybe even have it playable. Apart from all the stuff like not having any new games planned the fact that they’ve got an event in America the next week is super suspicious. I know a 2023 launch doesn’t sound likely on the face of it but I’ve really started to come around to the idea and if it’s not happening I really don’t know what Nintendo are going to do until the Switch 2 is a reality.

I’m also very interested to know what they will do with Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, as the obvious thing to do is have an enhanced version, but the minute Nintendo try to charge for that they’re going to upset a lot of people and that is not going to be the vibe they’re looking for at the launch of a new console.

And yet I just can’t imagine them giving it away for free. Nintendo hates pirates, modders, and freebies and I don’t know that they have the self-control to stop themselves from putting their foot in it before they even start.

Gearing up
So one of Sony’s big exclusives is a Metal Gear Solid 3 remake? And they probably have a deal for Castlevania too, to go with Silent Hill 2. Sounds like they should just buy Konami, although I think they are actually quite a big company with a lot of non-games stuff like health clubs? So that’s probably the only thing that’s stopping them.

I can’t pretend I’m much of a Metal Gear fan, but I do love Castlevania and many of Konami’s other older franchises. I hope they’ve put the money and effort in to make these revivals work because I don’t see them ever bothering again if this doesn’t work out.

Ad free edition
That Mortal Kombat advert thing for Hogwarts Legacy is unreal. I thought it must be an exaggeration but that footage is just mind-boggling. That is so shameless I don’t even know what to say, except I bet it’s a test for Mortal Kombat 12 and that’s going to be as filled with ads and microtransactions as the NBA games are.

We’ve just defeated NFTs and already publishers are lining up the next scam. They just can’t help themselves. And all so they can advertise Harry Potter?! Which I’m sure is a big favourite of your average Mortal Kombat fan.

Publishers are always complaining about the rising cost of making games, even though the prices haven’t risen as much, and I think this is going to be how they’ll try and claw their money back. We’ll have ads – real ads, not just for their other games – in games and then we’ll have to pay for ad free versions to get rid of them. Think that sounds crazy? Just mark my words when it starts to happen.

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Invisible indie
RE: Goofy not having a reason for Marvel flops.

I don’t remember seeing a single advert or preview for Marvel’s Midnight Suns. I think the first I heard of it was a review on GameCentral. I don’t really care about Marvel or superheroes, nor do I care about Harry Potter, but I saw loads of ads and previews on YouTube and I ended up buying that in the first week.
All about advertising.

Thinking about this… how do you first hear about and get hyped up for games? There’s about three review sites I’ll visit fairly often and YouTube videos that the algorithm puts in front of me. Quite often now I’ll not see a game mentioned until I see it on the PlayStation Store or on the Steam front page!

For example, War Mongrels just released on PlayStation 5 and has been out on steam for a while – I’d never even heard of it but it looks right up my alley. Are there just too many games to review or am I not consuming enough media!?

GC: War Mongrels is an indie game and despite us getting half a dozen emails every day about new titles we’ve still barely ever heard of half of them before, or even after, they’re released.

Whether you want it or not
I don’t think Mario Kart 8 is the record at all, GC. Super Mario Bros. sold over 40 million copies on the NES, which sold almost 62 million consoles. 64.62% easily beats 50% you stated for Mario Kart 8. The Wii U sold 13.56 million units, with 8.46 million copies of Mario Kart 8, which is 62%. The Wii U is kind of an outlier since the console sold so poorly. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold over 52 million (end of last year) with Switch on 122 million.

Anyhow, back to what Phil Spencer stated. We all know, including Phil Spencer himself, exclusives help shift consoles. His pessimistic review derives from the Xbox One era being a bad one to lose because of the emerging digital market. I would argue it is this generation which would be far more serious.

I do think he overstated with regulators in mind. I do think if Xbox close the Activision Blizzard deal, we will see a very different energy going forward. The UK blocking the deal will be of less consequence if the EU approve it.

GC: Super Mario Bros. was a bundled game for much of its life. It and Wii Sports don’t count. It’s also arguable whether they count in the list of best-selling games, since people wouldn’t necessarily have being buying them on purpose.

Record breaker
I know you mentioned in Monday’s inbox that the record attach rate for a game is Mario Kart 8 at 50%, but there was a brief moment when the Switch was first released where in North America at least, the attach rate for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild was…102%. As in, the Switch sold 902,000 units and the game sold 925,000. At the time I figured the reports must have been getting muddled up with the Wii U version, but no – that was counted separately and sold 460,000 copies in that first week.

Possible explanations for the attach rate were diehard fans buying both the regular and special editions, or people missing out on being able to pick up a Switch but deciding to grab Zelda anyway, knowing they’d get the console at the first opportunity.

I know that situation only lasted a week, but it stuck in my mind for being so ridiculous!
Sparky the Yak

GC: That is great. We assume it must have been because of hardware shortages.

The definition of insanity
Of all the franchises Capcom could possibly revive I have to admit that Dead Rising is probably dead last (okay, there’s probably something obscure that’s worse but in terms of things that are actually likely to happen).

If Microsoft are involved then whatever but I think this just proves once again that they don’t really know what they’re doing. I bet there are people at Xbox that are convinced Dead Island is some sort of beloved classic, but it’s really not. They could’ve asked Capcom to make anything and yet instead they choose a franchise that has already come to nothing four times before.

A bad time
It’s not a Gerald Ratner moment but Phil Spencer’s recent comments doesn’t leave you entirely convinced with his product.

I thought his appearance on the Kinda Funny podcast was an interesting mix of honest assessment, PR damage control, and guff to portray Xbox as no threat to competition regulators.

Agree that the damage done by Xbox One in the generation where digital became the dominant way games were bought was a huge obstacle. Including PS Plus, I had over 300 games in my PlayStation digital library before the new gen started.

Agree that the third party exclusives Sony enjoy make it a struggle. I know Microsoft have and can do the same. But there’s only so many huge games like Final Fantasy and Sony has most of them.

Agree that making great games wouldn’t make people sell their PlayStation 5. But that’s not the point, making great games would sell Xboxes and shift the console balance. Not dramatically to begin with, like Spencer framed it, but overtime it would close the gap a lot.

That’s the bit I thought was said with the CMA in mind. Like how Bobby Kotick said today Amazon Luna has the most streaming customers due to 200 million Prime subscriptions. Leaving out how many use it and that it’s only available in four countries.

Xbox didn’t want to compete with Sony this gen under the old rules from the very start and we had two very different approaches. No exclusives for the first two years and day one first party games on a subscription service versus believing in generations. Both visions have merit but Sony is executing theirs better than Microsoft.

Xbox has put out good stuff this gen. Great hardware and services. Contrary to perception very good first party output: Hi-Fi Rush, Forza Horizon 5, Grounded, Pentiment, and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

But their missteps have been huge and all flowed into each other. Halo Infinite post-launch mess, then no triple-A first party game for nearly 18 months and then when one shows up it’s Redfall. Along with the legacy of reputational damage from Xbox One, Xbox is in a real hole right now.

I’ve got no sympathy though. They just have to do better. Maybe work on getting the best out of their current studios and grow a little bit more organically.

GC: We do feel the impact of Sony’s third party exclusives is being exaggerated. Beyond Final Fantasy there’s really nothing that’s a particularly big seller, just indie games, niche titles like Death Stranding, and timed exclusives such as flops like Forspoken and Ghostwire: Tokyo.

Inbox also-rans
No Nintendo Direct in June but Nintendo will be at Gamescom in August? Yeah, I sense something very fishy going on. Either that or Nintendo are really weird. Unfortunately either are equally likely.

Playing through Star Wars Jedi: Survivor at the moment and it’s actually really good. No real performance issues either, so I guess the patches work. Which begs the question, why didn’t they just wait a week to fix it, instead of going through all this bad publicity?

his week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Kyrt, who asks what’s your favourite video game music track?

Rather than an entire soundtrack what individual piece of music is your favourite from a video game? How much is your enjoyment due to the music’s inherent quality and how much because of how it’s used in the game? Did you enjoy it from the first moment or did it take a while to grow on you?

If you don’t know its name, or it’s not just the theme tune, try to describe where it comes in the game. If you do know the name, does that mean you’ve bought the soundtrack or listened to it outside of the game?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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