When the first Nintendo Direct aired in 2011, it changed the future of gaming announcements. For the first time, a gaming company was bringing its fans into the loop outside of a large convention, letting them know what was happening behind the curtain. It showed fans of the company that they were valued, that they were important to the process of development, and it had the added bonus of hyping people up for the games to come. For nearly 10 years, the Directs aired about 4 times a year – and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. After the last Direct aired in September of 2019 and no more were announced, fans feared the Directs had ended forever. Until a surprise announcement came down the wire this week – a new Direct will air tomorrow, February 17th – and fans are celebrating.

History of Nintendo Directs

Nintendo Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The first Nintendo Direct aired in Japan  and North America on October 21, 2011. After a few rousing successes in their primary market, the company expanded its reach into Australia, Europe, and South Korea. Soon people around the world were tuning in quarterly to listen to – and eagerly debate – Nintendo’s upcoming games. 

The first Direct was a hype sesh for the 3DS, which would later prove to be a popular and enduring system. Although the 3DS was not a rousing success at launch, the outreach during the Direct and subsequent popular games revived the system to the point where it’s still eagerly purchased to this day by Nintendo purists. 

Over the years, the Directs have functioned as ways to both provide updates and secretly collect feedback. During the development process, Nintendo can see how people are feeling about what’s to come. The Directs are often compared to a diluted version of E3 – with some critics saying they’re just not enough to hype big games. Others, however, prefer the more intimate, in-home atmosphere. 

The quarterly directs ground to a halt in 2020 as the pandemic forced a seismic shift in the way just about everyone was living, and fans lamented the loss of the comfortable ritual. September 4, 2019, marked the last proper Direct, so when news came down this week that a new one was coming, the internet did what the internet does best and it lost its collective marbles. 

Earlier this morning, Nintendo surprised fans by announcing the unanticipated but eagerly awaited new direct, to air on February 17th. 

What Will This Direct Discuss?

Nintendo’s announcement reads, “Tune in 2/17 at 2 p.m. PT for a #NintendoDirect livestream featuring roughly 50 minutes of information focused on available games like Super #SmashBrosUltimate and games coming to #NintendoSwitch in the first half of 2021.”

However, notably absent from the announcement is perhaps Nintendo’s most hotly anticipated game of 2021 – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. Thus far, news about the newest installment in one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises has been few and far between. With only a handful of cinematic clues and some hefty rumors, fans have been pulling at the bit for some more concrete info about their newest favorite game they haven’t played yet. 

Fan Speculation Runs Rampant

Nintendo Legends of Zelda

So will fans get more than morsels and tidbits about Botw: 2? That seems likely. The internet is current abuzz with rumors as to what fans will hear discussed during the 50-minute broadcast. This year marks 35 years since the first Zelda game hit consoles and fans are begging for some revivals of Zelda classics, and hoping that they’ll see some of their favorites become available on Switch to mark the beloved franchise’s 35th birthday. Super Smash Bros news is also hotly anticipated and fingers are crossed everywhere that some new titles will hit their consoles later this year. 

Express shared tweets on Sunday – two days before the announcement –  from fans who rightly bet that this Direct would be announced, and they may also be on the nose about what will be shared during the broadcast; “One tweeted: ‘My hopes for Nintendo news going into the next month: February: Zelda Anniversary Direct, possible Pokemon Direct.’

‘March: Proper Nintendo Direct returns; Smash Challenger Pack 9 announced, Releases close to next wave of amiibo.’

‘Updates on BotW2 and Metroid Prime 4 also welcome.’

While another posted: ‘Guys I just find out that Zelda’s 35th Anniversary is coming!!! Hopefully it will be Legend of Zelda Direct.’

And one added: ‘Hm… Zelda’s 35th anniversary is later this month. Wonder if we’ll get a Zelda Direct to announce some ports/plans for it this month.’

‘After all, we did get a Mario Direct the month of that series’ 35th anniversary, and Zelda’s like the only other series they’d do that for.'”

But so far – like news about the Direct’s existence to begin with – Nintendo has been smugly silent. Fans will have to wait another 24 hours to find out just what’s coming this year out of the gaming titan. Will they finally be announcing the long-rumored more powerful Switch console? Will fans be satisfied with the news, whatever it may be? One thing that is a given is that at least half of the people watching will be upset – and half will be thrilled. Thus ever goes gaming announcements! Tune in tomorrow, February 17th, at 2 P.M. PT/ 5 P.M. EST on Nintendo’s website to see just what they’re up to this year. 

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