Frontline Marketing

Surprise Nintendo Direct Leaves Audiences Puzzled

screenshot from The World Ends With You

By | January 11, 2018 |

Nintendo surprised fans Thursday morning when it dropped a Nintendo Direct Mini unannounced. It’s uncharacteristic of the brand: no advanced notice was given aside from two cryptic social media posts—leaving thousands of fans to speculate.

On Wednesday, the company’s North American Twitter account posted a picture of Chibi-Robo—a character from a Nintendo-published video game—on fire. The post was offered without explanation, inspiring thousands of replies, retweets and fan theories ranging from a new game to hopes that a Nintendo Direct would be announced soon. To fuel the “fire” of theories spreading around the internet, the Nintendo New York account tweeted a Mii (Nintendo avatar) dancing in a Snapchat hot dog costume, again without comment.

Brands were speculating, too: Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Doom responded to Nintendo with their own flaming images.

Nintendo Direct Minis are traditionally announced ahead of time—like last fall’s Direct for Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, which earned 544,000 views. Thursday morning’s sudden Direct earned over 1.5 million views in a matter of hours.

“Nintendo seems to have realized that by not announcing Direct in the same way each time, it usually does creates a lot more speculation and buzz,” SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen told AListDaily. “Nintendo’s massive following on social media and the fans that closely monitor the Directs does the PR for them instead and allows Nintendo to point at it and say: ‘Look at how much online discussion we created.'”

The tradition of Nintendo Direct began in 2011, when the company provided updates and announcements for Nintendo 3DS and Wii platforms. The first Nintendo Direct Mini—a shorter version of its normal announcement videos—aired in 2012 to announce Brain Age: Concentration Training in Japan.

Full-length Nintendo Direct announcements typically feature one or more presidents of the company engaging in some mild-mannered hijinks, such as wearing Cappy, the hat from Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo Direct Minis, meanwhile, get straight to the point with back-to-back trailers accompanied by a narrator.

Thursday’s Nintendo Direct Mini announced new titles coming to Nintendo Switch:

  • The World Ends With You (a game previously released for Nintendo DS)
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
  • Hyrule Warriors Ultimate Edition
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

Also announced: DLC for existing games, like Pokken Tournament DX, Mario + Rabbids and Super Mario Odyssey.

Ports coming to Nintendo Switch have also been given release dates, giving fans something to chew on until the brand decides to keep them guessing again.