The Invisible Hype Cycle for Nintendo is Dangerous

The Cycle Begins

I didn’t start really following gaming news until I was in college, catching the big E3 streams and the like (or at least in depth recaps of them from sources I trusted). However, it was a year or two after that in which I started following the general social media talk about upcoming games and hardware. Now that I have, part of me almost wishes that I hadn’t. I have to if I’m going to be working here with Big Daddy Gaming, obviously, but I’m growing more weary of it. If it’s taking that toll on me after less than five years, I kind of have to worry about how much of a toll it will take on all of us the longer that this cycle goes on.

Now, this is not me trying to say that I am some god among men that is able to walk through the world of video game news without getting swept up into hype cycles. I mean, I am currently salivating for any shred of news that I can get about Deathloop and Kena: Bridge of Spirits, both new and untested IP, one of which will be a studio’s debut game. If I were following my own advise, I wouldn’t be caught up in all of this, and yet I am. As are we all.

There’s nothing wrong with getting excited about a game that is coming down the pipeline. We can see the end in sight to the long wait between entries of our favorite series or even be excited about something new. We’re getting a new game! Yay! However, my concern is with hype for invisible things. Sometimes this is founded in an early listing on a website or a reliable leaker. Or sometimes there is no grounding at all. The hype for something that has not even been confirmed or announced is one that I am the most weary of. It’s also the type of hype that has the potential to go disastrously wrong.

If there is one thing I have learned in the last few years, it’s that Nintendo fans seem to be particularly likely to get swept up in the hype for something that they have determined is real and that they simply will not let go of it. The first time that I really experienced it was in 2017. 

The Time it Happened with Pocket Monsters

The Nintendo switch had just been released earlier that year and the Pokémon fans were eager to see what could be coming for the system. Mockups were being made for what a game on the new console could look like, speculations were being made about which old features might be brought back. It was the typical excitement that we usually see when a fanbase is anticipating a possible new game. Some people are reasonable, some people shoot for the moon, and some people deliberately keep their expectations low. Then, suddenly, everyone latched onto the idea that Pokémon Stars would be coming to the Nintendo Switch and an announcement was imminent. This was founded in the pattern that the series had for a third companion game that was basically a directors cut that shakes things up and adds in a bunch of new content (such as Pokémon Yellow, Emerald, or Platinum). Add to this that there was some light media buzz on the idea and it was a fury of expectations. Not everyone was swept up in the flurry of excitement, of course, but a decent amount of people had completely convinced themselves that it was going to be happening. 

Then the announcement finally came and… it wasn’t what they were hyped for. Instead, they would be getting Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. They were enhanced and remixed versions of the prior pair of games, yes, but it wasn’t in the way they wanted. Of course, there being two of them was seen as a cash grab. This had happened before with Black 2 and White 2, but those games had a stronger argument by being full story sequels, while Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon ended up being a strange parallel story that progressed similarly aside from some key additions. People were annoyed that they didn’t complete a sun, moon, and stars theme. Most of all, though, people were upset that these were both 3DS games and not the glorious switch game they had been promised by… themselves.

The Time with the Rabbids

Around the same time there was another example of people getting angry about something that hadn’t been announced yet. Almost an anti-hype, I suppose you could call it. Before the Switch had even launched, Laura Kate Dale, pundit and somewhat reliable leaker I followed, put out there that there would be a Mario and Rabbids game. She was, in fact, correct. This would later come to us in the form of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a fairly well regarded title, given what a strange occurrence it was. 

This lead to a lot of disbelief, obviously, as it seemed like something so out of left field that it couldn’t be real. There was a lot of decrying the idea in general and some decent shouting about it in a few corners of the internet. She even faced harassment from the naysayers over this. Perhaps this isn’t quite the same as people getting their expectations up over something that doesn’t exist. The fact that we can sometimes have such strong feelings about something we don’t even know about for sure that it leads to harassment? It has me worried, honestly. Even if it wasn’t true, then it would have just been a fairly harmless rumor…

The Switch is Doing it Again

That brings us to the invisible hype of the hour… the Switch Pro. Or Enhanced Switch. Or whatever you want to call it.

No matter what you’re calling it, there’s no denying that people are excited about something else that we have no guarantee is coming. A lot of the hype is thanks to this Bloomberg article of course, but the Switch Pro is something that people have been salivating for for a while. Especially after the PlayStation and Xbox next generation came around, looking flashier than ever. 

However, as I sit here writing, we are less than a week from the kickoff of E3 and nothing has been announced. If I were to believe twitter yesterday and everyone talking excitedly about this, the Switch Pro was supposed to be announced midnight of the 4th,  secret drop that would wow everyone when they woke up in the morning. EIther that or just an announcement on the 4th in the lead up to E3, where, need I remind you, Nintendo is slated to do a software-only direct. I’m writing on the 5th and there has not been even the whisper of anything the last two days. That’s not to say that there isn’t a Switch Pro coming someday down the line or in the works, but it is to say that I think that we all need to take a step back and breathe.

Let’s all settle down

This has been a particularly rough year for gaming, I know. Between should-be juggernauts turning out less well than hoped, or every game and their mother getting pushed back and delayed. I know that we all want this thing. That we want it to be real, desperately so. However, I think we need to stop acting like something that’s not announced is a sure thing, even if there is a ton of evidence or supposed leaks. Nothing is set in stone until it’s out in the world officially. For all we know, there could have been an announcement planned, but something cause it to be delayed last minute. 

Let’s just… chill out. Okay?

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