Nintendo of America’s president Doug Bowser doesn’t call all the shots, but he knows the details and reasoning behind the Switch release calendar as well as anyone. That makes him a perfect person to ask about the Breath of the Wild sequel, Metroid Prime 4, and the rumored Switch Pro—but mum’s the word on all three. As for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the Super Mario 35th anniversary, Bowser’s down to dish.
Speaking with Polygon’s Russ Frushtick, Bowser has good news to share on the Animal Crossing front and a head-scratcher justification behind Mario’s limited time anniversary releases. First, the New Horizon news: when it comes to the kinds of post-launch updates Animal Crossing for Switch has received throughout the year, Bowser says Nintendo “definitely see[s] that continuing” into 2021. For folks who’ve yet to get a Switch and New Horizons, that means there’s more to look forward to (and that this year’s updates haven’t just been filling in seasonal additions that’ll loop annually from now on).
In light of that, though, Bowser’s explanation for why Mario anniversary releases like Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35 are limited-time offers is a bit counterintuitive:
I think I use a simple word: celebration. It just—this is a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. And we wanted to celebrate in unique and different ways, and we’ve done that through games like Super Mario 3D All-Stars, or we will be doing that through future releases, such as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury[…] it’s not strategy that we’re going to be using widely, but it’s one we thought was very unique for the actual anniversary.
In response to a follow-up on what this “celebration” plan means for folks who buy a Switch after March 31, 2021, Bowser simply says that the cut-off decision was “really made around that celebration feature” and that he “can’t speak to plans beyond [the] end of March.”
While it’s still certainly possible that Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy will make their way to Switch through other means after the March cut-off, the decision still comes across as odd. Elsewhere in the interview, Bowser speaks to the strong attach rate for the Switch and to how titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey still sell well as more people buy the console. Presumably, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will also fill a similar role for the Switch, especially as it receives more updates.
Nintendo’s been in the business of reissuing its old games long enough to know what works and what doesn’t, and in the case of the Switch, it’s already seeing its older titles continue to perform well. You’d think the potential benefits of being able to keep selling people Super Mario 3D All-Stars would outweigh the “celebration” aspect, but who knows. I could see a justification for the limited-time release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light (also expiring March 31) if it’s assumed that’ll only move so many units, but it’d be absurd to think the same of a wide-reaching classic like Super Mario 64.