It has only been a month and a half since Satoru Iwata passed away unexpectedly (at least unexpectedly for the community), but his absence is already being felt. Nintendo has a lot of games coming out this fall—some like Super Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World in very short order—but we’ve heard surprisingly little about them since the great man passed on. And it’s not just the absence of Nintendo Direct. For the moment, Nintendo feels rudderless, and it’s very sad.

 

Nintendo After Iwata: No CEO, No Direction, No Marketing

 

Nintendo has four big Wii U games coming out this fall: Super Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Star Fox Zero (which you should be more excited about). Normally, we would have woken up to a surprise Nintendo Direct about the first two of those games… probably sometime this week, honestly. Iwata would have greeted us, made a dad joke, and introduced Bill Trinen or the game’s producer to show off some cool new footage without actually revealing much of anything new. It’s been a Nintendo tradition for years now. Everybody would then go online and bitch about how Nintendo didn’t announce something cool and awesome, and Iwata would ask us to Please Understand. It’s the circle of life.

Alas, it is no more. Those games are still coming out, and yea, I get press releases about them, and yea, people write them up and reveal to the world at large what the game is going to be like. But it doesn’t feel the same. Nintendo’s marketing has no focus, because it used to have the perfect focus, and that focus is gone. In a sense, that makes the company’s efforts feel more like Microsoft and Sony’s—less direct, more intent on traditional channels. It doesn’t feel like Nintendo. It also doesn’t feel like a major push—sure, us gamers know that these games are coming out, but do normal people? Do regular folks know why they’re cool? I’m not so sure, and that’s something Nintendo Direct was always great at communicating—not just a trailer, but what the trailer meant.

Iwata’s exuberance and enthusiasm was incredibly infectious. Hell, he even got me excited for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for a half second when Dixie Kong first showed up. That’s the power of Nintendo Direct. Or it was. We have no idea whether the program will ever come back or in what form, but it’ll certainly never be the same.

For now, Nintendo feels rudderless. And it won’t end when the company names a permanent new CEO. For now, Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda helm the august company, but even Miyamoto has big shoes to fill when it comes to replacing Satoru Iwata.