With E3 only a week away, we are taking a look at Nintendo's second party development. Just to be clear, this post won't cover every Nintendo partner dev, just ones that could bring a game to E3. Some devs like Grezzo and Arzest aren't going to be discussed despite having a soon-to-be released game because that's all they have and have been discussed.
Nintendo External Production Groups
Before we get into each of Nintendo's partners, we should discuss how they manage these partnerships. At the top of Nintendo development is again, Shinya Takahashi, but he has put Keisuke Terasaki in a position similar to what he held before EPD combined. This means he's incharge of all Nintendo's external development. From there, Nintendo divides its partners between 3 groups. This first group is under Hitoshi Yamagami. He works with the Fire Emblem team, all the Pokémon games, the main Kirby team, Monoltith Soft and various Japanese devs that partner with Nintendo.
The second group is Kensuke Tanabe's group. He works with the Paper Mario team, the secondary HAL Laboratory team, Skip and most of Nintendo's western developers
The third group is under Toyokazu Nonaka. This group works on mostly Mario spinoffs as well as most collaborations between several developers like Smash and the StreetPass Plaza games. The other series they work with are Fatal Frame and the Culdcept series.
The modern day Intelligent Systems seems to have 2 to 3 teams. The first team is the Fire Emblem team which works on the Fire Emblem series. This team worked on both Heroes and Echoes and are working on the Switch Fire Emblem. The 2nd team is the Paper Mario team which completed Color Splash last fall. As to why I say there could be a third team is that the WarioWare team seems to have been condensed into the other teams and the Code Name Steam team seems to be disbanded after the game failed to meet satisfactory sales. There has been a lot of talk about Fire Emblem Switch recently so, I have to assume the game has made decent headway and should get a trailer during the Nintendo Spotlight. There was some talk about the Pushmo subteam being forced to shelve a new entry in the series to get games finished for the Switch so, I expect the Paper Mario is working on a new game though a new Paper Mario seems a bit unlikely this soon (especially since Color Splash had poor critical reception). I would like a WarioWare but Game & Wario's performance my have damaged the brand in Intelligent System's eyes.
For HAL Laboratory, they have a main Kirby team, with the BOXBOY team being a subteam and the 2nd Kirby team with Picross 3D Round 2 being developed by crossover between teams. I suspect the 3DS Kirby game is being developed by the main team like the other spinoffs which leaves the 2nd Kirby team with HD experience to start work on a Switch game. I expect this Switch game is a late 2018 release as the series has become a yearly series.
Game Freak is mainly composed of two teams, the main Pokemon team and the secondary Pokemon team that shifts in production once the first finishes. They also have their odd small title team which was busy with Giga Wrecker earlier this year. With the Nintendo Direct, we can expect a main series game sometime in the next nine months with loads of E3 coverage. I'm expecting it to be a Switch port of Sun & Moon as I don't think they had enough time to make Sinnoh in 3D yet. The small title team probably isn't ready to show their next title yet so at best they could give a Switch a port though I don't expect this at this point.
Creatures is most known for their work on Pokemon games as modelers. Their most recent title was the Detective Pikachu Episode 1. Apparently, the western produced movie is supposed to be Detective Pikachu so I'm expecting the title has moved over to the Switch for the Western release / rest of the series. I wouldn't be surprised if this game is one of those "And it's out today" games. Otherwise, there's not much to talk about with this game
The current Nd Cube is the former members of Hudson who developed Mario Party. Since they've worked out a nearly annual output, I'm expecting the next Mario Party will be announced during Treehouse Live for the Switch with an expected release date of Spring 2018. Now that aren't releasing games on other platforms (since I expect the 3DS to basically be dropped in mid 2018), the split team effort will probably be dedicated to making different games (for instance, quite a few developers at Nd Cube worked on the Bomberman Hero series.)
AlphaDream are ex Square guys that make the Mario & Luigi series. Since this team seems to be capable of releasing a game every 2 years and there are the Superstar Saga DX rumors, I expect their next title to be announced during Treehouse Live. A Mario & Luigi game seems like it could fill in a gap in the 3DS lineup for the Fall. If they have actually transistioned to the Switch, expect them not to comeback with a game until Fall 2018.
Next Level Games
Next Level Games are a Canadian studio that developed the Mario Strikers series, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Federation Force. Federation Force seems to be a revived DSi game so it is likely they started preproduction on another title after Luigi's Mansion. Despite Federation Force bombing, the overwhelming success of Luigi's Mansion likely means that they are probably not on the chopping block. I guess they have a Switch title in development by now though I'm expecting them to not be at E3. It could get announced at a Nintendo Direct but, I think it would be a Summer 2018 title at earliest
For Koei Tecmo, Nintendo is connected to them through the Warriors crossovers and Fatal Frame. For this E3, I'm fully expecting the only collaboration will be Fire Emblem Warriors, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hyrule Warriors 2 and a new Fatal Frame game are in development for the Switch. For Fire Emblem Warriors, the game should be ready for release around September and October. The recent news from Famitsu suggested the majority of the characters are from the original, Awakening and Fates so, it probably isn't a stretch for the DLC to be planned for the game (with it likely being game-based packs, focused on Shadows of Valentia, The Binding Blade and Path of Radiance). For E3, I'm expecting 4 or 5 characters revealed on top on the original characters and Chrom. The developers have said the game uses the Weapon Triangle so, there should be some variety.
Hyrule Warriors Legends DLC kind of ran the well a bit dry for a sequel though there are a few games they haven't covered and Breath of the Wild has a few good characters that could be added. For Fatal Frame, I do think the series is kind of close to chopping block at this point so a Switch reinvention to the series is needed so, the game probably will not be ready until Fall 2018 at earliest.
For Bandai Namco, Nintendo regularly uses them to finish big games like the soon-to-be released ARMS but, for games they actually develop with Nintendo, it's a debate between Pokken and Smash Bros. There is evidence for both titles with Pokken arcade exclusive characters and the pulled ad and with Smash, the rumor from a trusted analyst as well as suggested by other insiders. It's hard to say with Mario Sports Superstars having several Smash leads, it puts the point in Pokken's favor for a sooner release. I'm predicting Smash will be at E3 but, released in early 2018 as an expanded port of Smash Bros. for Wii U. In 3rd party relations, they are putting a Taiko game, a Tales game and a port of Dragonball Xenoverse 2 with DLC included as well as the first game's storyline.
For SEGA, Nintendo's collaboration is mainly the Mario & Sonic games which makes sense since the Winter Olympics are this winter. I assume at least a 3DS version will be out by the Fall with maybe a Switch release before the Olympics start. Aside from that, they are mainly supporting Nintendo with Sonic and Atlus. We probably are not getting a new collab with Atlus for a while though a port of Tokyo Mirage Sessions would be nice.
Ubisoft is atypical to be mentioned here as they don't have all that many collaborations. Their main ones have been Just Dance in Japan and Rayman Legends costumes but, with the leak about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, it's fair to say that Ubisoft may commit to more collaborations though the focus will be on the aforementioned leaked title this E3.
Now with that, do you think I missed anything or am wrong on any of these predictions? E3 is only a week away and the next post in this series will be final predictions and a look at any rumors that pop-up.