Splatoon celebrated its first anniversary recently and has seemingly cemented itself as a new staple franchise in Nintendo’s library. It wasn’t always like that, facing an uphill battle even up to after the game’s release. Let’s take a look back to Splatoon’s reveal and first year in the market.
Splatoon was revealed as a big, new, first party IP at e3 2014. It was shown to be a 3rd person team based shooter where you spray paint everywhere and you can hide within your team’s colored ink. While most were fairly positive about their experience, a lot didn’t know what to make of it. Many lamented the lack of a single player campaign that could take advantage of the interesting mechanics at play, but Reggie assured that it was in the works.
Following e3, excitement was very high for Nintendo’s new IP until Nintendo released the single player trailer. A very unique looking single player campaign that was a mix of a 3rd person cartoon shooter like Ratchet and Clank and a platformer like Super Mario Galaxy which was just the thing needed to spark some interest. The unique designs of the characters in the game also helped create a small fan base with lots of fan art even early on.
Before launch, Nintendo released a Splatoon specific Nintendo direct which detailed a lot of information of what was in the final game. Here we learned about two of the biggest features the game had: The Squid Sisters and post release content; Additionally we learned of a “Beta” of sorts called the Global Test Fire.
The Global Test Fire:
Nintendo released a demo/beta a few days before launch allowing people to try out Splatoon for the first time ever. People fell hard for the concept and its excellent execution providing a fresh gameplay experience with a unique cast of characters. The internet was a buzz about the game and the limited time beta left many wanting more and exponentially increased excitement for the new game.
The Squid Sisters:
The Squid Sisters were announced in the Splatoon Direct with an odd music video, little did we know that these two would essentially become the “poster child” for the franchise with a lot of fans worldwide. They’re super stars in game providing a lot of the music for the game. They’re visible from the main plaza giving you a friendly wave if you look at them long enough (editor’s note: do not stare at women until they wave at you in real life). Their popularity escalated with a large portion of the fan art from the community dedicated to them. Nintendo noticed their increasing popularity and gave them not one, but two live concerts with holograms and even brand new amiibo.
Post Release Content:
The information relayed in the Nintendo Direct left a lot of people worried since despite revealing that the game would be supported for months to follow, the direct also revealed that the game will launch with a sparse amount of content. Only 4 maps at launch with 6 promised later in the year without any additional modes seemed pretty awful and without a proven track record a lot of people likely had the right to be skeptical.
The game launched without a hitch, the lack of content was reflected in some of the reviews (despite being mostly positive) but consumers were treated to a considerably speedy output of free content released regularly. Every 3 or so days something would release, be it a new weapon, stage, or mode. There WAS a lack of content, but new content was released so frequently that it was hard to get bored. Being a brand new concept helped immensely keeping the game fresh for months to follow.
The post release content arguably had a massive hand in making Splatoon a successful franchise. Nintendo decided to release the game with some content cut out and then release it for free frequently allowing them to stretch out the amount of content they had giving them more time to make new content later down the line. This kept people coming back the the game week after week, continuously talking about it and showing up in gaming news outlets. Nintendo took a massive risk with that move and it couldn’t of payed off more if they tried.
It wasn’t a guaranteed success, in fact a lot were betting otherwise. “It’ll sell just a bit better than the Wonderful 101, but not much” is a statement echoed by a lot of people. Splatoon was an unproven genre on failed platform, but it managed to become a massive success that greatly surpassed expectations.
Here are some of its accomplishments:
Splatoon in Japan
1. Best selling Wii U game
2. Best selling new IP since Wii Sports
3. Sold more than any game with "Luigi" in the title
— ZhugeEX (@ZhugeEX) May 28, 2016
Splatoon is the best selling new IP in the USA among the 8th generation of home consoles.
Even beating Bloodborne on PS4.
— ZhugeEX (@ZhugeEX) May 28, 2016
Splatoon is a diamond in the rough. Nintendo’s been sailing on some gloomy shores lately, but it would be decidedly more grim without it. The game’s success is sure to send shockwaves throughout Nintendo, a company which has been rather hesitant on publishing new IPs and even online multiplayer focused titles. Being created by a young team at Nintendo should let fans rest assured that Nintendo’s future is in good hands and that we should expect a lot more from this team and this franchise in the future.