Think back to the original Nintendo Switch Concept Trailer (or watch it above, if you prefer). Nintendo has featured photogenic people playing Switch in parks, on airplanes, at rooftop parties, and in esports. While Nintendo has generally taken a relatively lightweight approach to promoting its role in esports, avoiding a lot of annoying work and cash investment, it has gradually tried to do more. In a grand vision for late 2016, it was Splatoon 2 that was to play out in the crowded arena of excited fans, as Nintendo apparently foresaw big successes for the franchise.
This did not happen for a number of reasons, but the game was a success. It was definitely meatier than its experimental Wii U original, offering more content and options for solo or co-op play. Competitive multiplayer has certainly become a long-term direction for many, and you can still find terrifyingly rated players battling online.
From a commercial point of view, this was also a success, and the example of the new IP from Nintendo made an impression – the original sold almost 5 million copies on Wii U, which is impressive considering that the system itself only moved 13.56 million units. The Switch sequel has produced 12.68 million copies to date, which is good enough to establish itself as a # 9 Best-selling Switch at the time of writing…
But how do we measure the success of Splatoon 2? It has sold numerous copies and has a consistent loyal player base online, especially given the franchise’s relative youth. That said, that’s good for the more established franchises, which have successfully completed 20 million (30 million in some cases) sales on Switch; Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Pokémon. In the big picture of the first-person franchise, Splatoon is arguably on the second level; it sells less than Super Mario Party for added context.
Means success, but perhaps Little skilled. That said, we can expect Nintendo to give Splatoon 3 a big boost this year, not only for further developing the brand, but also because it’s a huge domestic hit. Many of us how Splatoon games, but in Japan they are more prominent in pop culture. Concerts with great music, merchandise, limited edition snacks and more were all widespread in Japan, especially in Splatoon 2, after being heavily influenced by the original (against all odds). In the domestic market, Nintendo is a banker.
The question is whether Splatoon 3 could be a watershed moment for truly taking it to the highest tier of Nintendo IP addresses around the world. The development team had enough time to work on the game, no doubt using the engine and tools from the first two games to focus on the content. For example, the story mode may be the most ambitious, and we’ve already seen some fun types of weapons and arenas. After all the fundamental work in the original and expansion in the sequel, this third entry could certainly be the next level for the series.
IP also has all the tools to take it to the next level and take on Nintendo’s most famous and iconic franchises. It’s colorful, family-friendly and open to high-end play, with a lot of personality, fantastic music, and varied content. It is also a game that approaches a live service approach to multiplayer if Nintendo decides to continue with regular events and content updates. The tools are there, and if we assume that the quality of the game remains, it could be a real hit.
The huge Switch owner base this year is undoubtedly a big opportunity for Splatoon 3. What will be most interesting is the release timeline, thanks to the pre-made roster from the first installments. If, and it’s big ifdevelopment is far enough, a summer or early fall release is probably best suited to the playstyle and gives it respite from the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2… It would also allow Nintendo to actively participate in events like E3 or the Summer Game Fest.
Either way, this year should be exciting for Splatoon fans. Forget talking about sales numbers and the like, getting a second full record on Switch is likely to be lots of fun…
Let us know what you think about Splatoon 3 and its chances in 2022, we even did some polls for you. We are so generous.