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The Future Of Splatoon – Is This What’s Next?

If Nintendo released the next instalment as a free to play game, you’d have 50-60m Switch owners who would jump on it (ok, not all of them, but probably a huge amount). Nintendo could then copy Fortnite’s approach and sell Battle Passes for each season of events.

Arriving fully formed on the scene less than five years ago, it’s amazing to think of the impact that Splatoon has had. The Wii U original sold 5m copies and was followed two years later by the Switch sequel. Arriving in the Switch’s initial year of hit after hit (seriously, 2017 was just incredible), it has found the bigger audience it deserved, selling just under 10m copies as at the latest update.

While many criticised Splatoon 2 for being more of a 1.5 sequel, it introduced the awesome Salmon Run mode, a more in depth single player campaign and the huge Octo Expansion DLC a year after release. Not to mention the usual diet of awesome map, weapon and gear updates, which were all free updates to players who bought the game. The game has more than earned its place in the collection of ‘must own’ Switch games.

So damn cool

But what next for the series?

The last Splatfest was in July. Since then, there’s been nothing of note. Not since the IP fist launched has Nintendo gone so long leaving the series dormant. There have been a number of tweeted teaser images recently that have gotten fans all excited. The gaming wizards at Nintendo are cooking up something and it probably won’t be long until we find out about it. I’m willing to bet that a new release will feature in Nintendo’s 2020 line up.

If you zoom in on a part of the image and look at it in the mirror, you can see the something incredible. I’ll let you find which part.

I reckon too that it’ll be a new game, since more DLC will just attract diminishing returns at this stage. There are 10 million buyers of Splatoon 2 out there, many of which will be willing to pay for a full sequel. It’s tough to see what a new game can do though, beyond more maps, weapons and modes to justify another $60 game. But what if Nintendo went down an alternative route? Rather than releasing Splatoon 3 (or whatever they call it) as a full price game, Nintendo could try something different.

It won’t have escaped Nintendo’s attention that Fortnite is currently the world’s most lucrative game, earning over $1.8bn last year. Most of the world is addicted to it, including all of the team here at The Switch Island. Why not therefore seek to emulate some of this success using Splatoon?

If Nintendo released the next instalment as a free to play game, you’d have 50-60m Switch owners who would jump on it (ok, not all of them, but probably a huge amount). Nintendo could then copy Fortnite’s approach and sell Battle Passes for each season of events. Splatoon is perhaps best known for how stylish and cool its world is. Just imagine how much money Nintendo could make by selling players new gear as individually purchased items. All those seasonal gear updates would be irresistible for millions.

Who wouldn’t pay good money for that phallic-looking hat on the right?

Whether Splatoon could implement a Battle Royale mode a la Fortnite remains to be seen. Personally I’m not sure how it could work, but then again I’m not one of the genius game-developers that works for Nintendo. I’m sure they could do it if they wanted to, but perhaps Nintendo would prefer to create something their own, much like they did in the first place with Splatoon when they chose to ignore the violent death-match formula for something more colourful and fun instead.

But why stop there? If Nintendo really wanted to take things up a gear with the series, they’d make it their next mobile release too, and have it seamlessly link up with the Switch version with crossplay. They’d massively expand their player base, especially in mobile-focused Japan and potentially even the insanely large gaming market of China. Finally, after several attempts at translating their beloved franchises to mobile, they could have a mobile game that stands alongside their console efforts instead of a dumbed-down version.

Nintendo’s President Shuntaro Furukawa has previously signalled a willingness to move away from home consoles as their main strategy. The continued relative under-performance of their mobile titles to date must be making them consider what more they can do to cash it on this massive market. Bringing a new Splatoon game to mobile alongside a Switch version could be part of the answer.

Mobile or not, going free to play on Switch would be a bold move that could keep the series generating revenue for the rest of the generation. It would make it the game that every Switch owner was talking about and playing, rather than just the existing passionate fanbase. Further paid DLC single-player campaigns could also be released to keep everyone happy, ensuring that fans of the single player modes needn’t be left out. (I’m sure there’s some strange people who have only played through the single-player component and then moved on.)

What do you think? Am I mad? Will they just keep releasing DLC for the existing game? Or maybe another $60 sequel? I’m sure we won’t have to wait long to find out, but let us know on Twitter what you’d like to see next with the series.

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