Splatoon is one of Nintendo’s latest IP projects, but it quickly made a name for itself. After launching the original game on Wii U in 2015, Splatoon 2 was released on Switch in July 2017, and Inklings appear in crossovers such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. While many were surprised to see the announcement of Splatoon 3, given that Nintendo could continue to release content for its predecessor, more Splatoon was inevitable given the success of the franchise.
It looks like there won’t be much unique new content in Splatoon 3, despite the fact that it’s a listed sequel and not a DLC like the Octo Expansion for Splatoon 2. Splatoon 3 has a new setting called Splatlands, story content, multiplayer maps and abilities, as you would expect from such a multiplayer shooter. However, it looks like there won’t be a new game mode similar to Salmon Run from Splatoon 2. Hopefully, such scant attention to improving the existing formula means that Splatoon 3 will avoid the stigma of unfinished content that other Nintendo games have suffered from in recent years.
Post-launch content in Nintendo Multiplayer Games
The shooter genre was something of a precursor to the modern format of live services. Activision’s Call of Duty franchise is just one example in which developers have provided ongoing support through weekly rotation of maps and modes, but games like Epic Games’ Fortnite have taken another step forward by changing their content so that fans can play forever. Both Splatoon games fit the previous formula well, but other Nintendo releases are having a hard time finding the right balance.
In particular, many sports games have been sharply criticized. Super Mario titles, including Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and Mario Strikers: Battle League, received less-than-stellar reviews for their post-launch support models. All three have undoubtedly been polished at a mechanical level, some even claim that they are among the best in their series. However, the lack of content meant that there was no reason to continue playing, which led to a reduction in the number of players in games where there was almost nothing but online competition.
Part of the problem is that new additions often seem to be content from the main game that pushed towards the release deadline, or so Nintendo may create hype about the introduction of characters like Daisy in Mario Strikers. Mario Sports games aren’t the only offenders, as Nintendo Switch Sports similarly announced post—launch add-ons like golf before the title hit shelves. It can be argued that this mentality has even influenced popular games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which has been criticized for re-implementing content from older games and a little more in the months after release.
Splatoon 3 must seek the right balance
As a shooter focused on multiplayer mode, Splatoon 3 should avoid the troubles of its contemporaries. His alternating selection of “Lawn War” maps, “Salmon Escape” content, and a narrative that hopefully originates from Octo Expansion rather than the standard Octo Canyon should give him an edge in diversity. But Nintendo should avoid releasing huge new modes and other features so close to launch that they will seem like delays rather than fresh additions.
Past Splatoon games have contained a lot of content after launch, from new types of weapons and equipment with different skills to unique stages and game modes, such as the Clam Blitz mode in Splatoon 2, released in December 2017. However, these additions were small and were issued constantly. therefore, they were generally perceived as reasons to keep playing and adapt their strategies, rather than as a static sports game trying to keep its relevance after drying out. Splatoon 3 returns all the base weapons, so it has a good base for development.
Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with post-launch content; everyone needs a reason to keep playing something they like, and the modern era of updates and fixes can contribute to that. DLC content such as Octo Expansion is one of the most popular content in Splatoon 2, and it was released almost a year after the main game. However, Nintendo games — especially with trademarks like Super Mario or Splatoon — require a serious investment of $60, so they should be ready to launch so that early investors get the same value as those who come to the sixth or seventh Splatfest.
Splatoon 3 is released on September 9, 2022 on the Nintendo Switch.