After the bonkers bonanza of Game of the Year and holidays and wrapping up everything in a neat little bow that happens at the end of every year, the slate is finally wiped clean for 2023. This is, arguably, one of the most exciting times in gaming — when the year is fresh and unblemished like newly-fallen snow, and we can dream of what might happen next.
Here at Nintendo Life, we don't have a crystal ball, but we do have many years of experience, and that's better than nothing when it comes to predicting what's next for Nintendo, indies, and the dear ol' Switch. And fear not, we (mostly) won't be mentioning the existence or non-existence of the Sw*tch P*o in here — no hardware, only software!
Our predictions for gaming in 2023
Without any further ado, let's jump in to this new year with both feet, and hope that we land on something soft and squishy like, er, a new Mario game or something. Let's-a-go!
KATE: I think it's going to be a busy year, with things hopefully picking up momentum after two years of pandemic-related delays. We've already got a packed January, and that's usually one of the quieter months, although I wonder if we're going to have a sort of "eye of the storm" dead zone around Zelda. I don't envy anyone who tries to release a game in May...
OLLIE: I agree that it's going to be another busy year, though I'm not sure that we're going to see a repeat of 2017 in terms of serious big-hitters. We've got Zelda arriving in May, of course, but anyone expecting a new Mario or Metroid game in 2023 might want to rein in their expectations slightly. I'm hesitant to broach the subject on a Switch successor, but I've a feeling Nintendo is going to want to hold onto some of its best titles this year in favour of launching with the new system.
ALANA: Like both Ollie and Kate, I also think 2023 is going to be a busy year! February is already pretty crazy for me personally, and while April looks very empty now (prepping for the big TOTK), I'm sure we'll have a Direct in the first quarter to pad things out. I think Pikmin 4 will hit late summer or in September, and we'll also have some Pokémon Scarlet & Violet DLC (which will get announced in February) and the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 story DLC to keep us busy over the summer months too.
JIM: How I would love to sneak in here and say "I actually don't think 2023 is going to be all that busy" just to play devil's advocate. But the truth is, I also think it is going to be weirdly stacked. There are a number of Nintendo big boys which we know are already set for the year (maybe Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp will fall in there too??) but I also think this is going to be a big one for announcements. I'm guessing that we are going to get word of a new console and Mario game towards the end of the year, teeing up for an equally big 2024.
GAVIN: Nintendo will be leaning into Zelda in a big way (of course), and I don't imagine we're going to see too many megaton first-party releases in 2023. It's easy to imagine an internal shift of focus to new hardware on the horizon (next year, for my money), and whatever form it takes, the company will want a steady monthly stream of games lined up for the launch period, as it did with Switch. With everyone else and their dog releasing games on the system, though, we won't be short of brilliant things to play.
KATE: Hard to predict surprises, but I would put money on a few Nintendo Directs this year with some large surprises, including potentially a Hollow Knight: Silksong stealth drop, a new 3D Mario, and, er... Metroid Prime 4? I'm personally hyped to find out what indies will take the world by storm this year, because most indies can afford to be extra cagey and secretive without everyone's eyes on them. I predict at least one incredible narrative game that tells a story in a fascinating way, a puzzle game that everyone loves, a sequel to a game that no one thought would get one (like Fantasy Life), and something new from Obra Dinn and Papers, Please maestro, Lucas Pope.
OLLIE: Rather than predict surprises and wind up looking like a plonker for getting everything wrong, I feel a lot more comfortable putting across what I'd like to happen this year. The big one for me is stronger support for Nintendo Switch Online: we've got NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis, but I really think it's time for the Game Boy or Game Boy Advance to get some love. I'd like GameCube as well, of course, but I suspect that Nintendo would rather lean into individual remasters of GameCube titles rather than whacking them all onto a subscription service. How about that Metroid Prime remaster, Nintendo..?
ALANA: So we're getting Silksong before July. Whether that's April or June (please don't be May), I wouldn't call it yet. But I always find Nintendo surprises difficult to predict. Perhaps we'll finally Get Wind Waker and Twilight Princess on Switch to warm us up before TOTK? The Metroid Prime remaster will finally come out? Otherwise, I think we'll get some unexpected ports. Outer Wilds has been promised for a while, but perhaps we'll get a Yakuza game.
JIM: It wouldn't really be a year of Nintendo predictions without one of us throwing out the old "Zelda blowout" chestnut, now would it? Much like Alana, I wonder whether this will be the year that the Big-N goes all kind of crazy and releases three Zelda titles in the space of 12 months - hey, stranger things have happened! In terms of a surprise, though, I would really like to see news of a new Metroid title from MercurySteam. After the brilliance of Dread, how great would it be to see something else on the horizon?
GAVIN: I saw a tweet the other day wondering where the Detective Pikachu Switch port has gotten to. That seems like just the right calibre of pleasant, non-surprising surprise for this year. I never played the original and would definitely welcome that.
Games of the Year (that aren't Zelda)
KATE: Zelda's too easy, innit? My personal GOTYs are likely to include Demonschool, The Plucky Squire, Fae Farm, Storyteller, Outer Wilds if it finally comes out, and maybe even Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life if it captures the charm of the original. However, I'm ready for something to surprise me in the latter half of the year — it probably hasn't even been announced yet, whatever it is.
OLLIE: This is a tough one, since we don't really know half of what's slated for this year. I reckon Pikmin 4 is going to be a big critical hit, even if it's unlikely to be a commercial one. Octopath Traveler II could well be another great title from Square Enix, but whether it'll be a GOTY contender is another story. This is a hard one!
ALANA: TOTK really is Nintendo's GOTY bet this year, and it along with Starfield, Spider-Man 2, and Final Fantasy XVI are honestly all probably locked in — unless they're terrible. But outside of The Game Awards, and sticking to Switch, Sea Of Stars could absolutely be up there if it's as good as it looks. So will Silksong if it's anywhere near as amazing as Hollow Knight is. It'll be a much more varied year with a wide spread of GOTY contenders, I think. I'm excited to be surprised by something.
JIM: I have to agree with Alana that Sea of Stars is a sure-fire winner for prettiest game of the year and I am quietly hopeful that it will have the gameplay to boot. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the top games on Switch in my view, and Engage stands a very good chance of carrying this on given the huge amount of promo that Nintendo is churning out for it. Much like Kate, though, I am always hoping for a late-year hit. Perhaps a post-TOTK palate cleanser is precisely what we will all need.
GAVIN: Sea Of Stars, with any luck. That looks phenomenal.
Response to Zelda: TOTK
KATE: Gotta be honest... I'm a little nervous! It's not like Nintendo has ever made a totally duff Zelda game (in-house, at least), but setting up a new game as a sequel to one of the most beloved video games of all time is a monumental task. The question on everyone's lips is, "will it match up"? With how much they're reusing the map, I sincerely hope it does, but we really don't know enough to say for sure, yet, since Nintendo's been awful cagey with the details. I think scores will be high, probably in the low 90s, but potentially we could see some disappointment in the game all the same.
OLLIE: I've no doubt that Tears of the Kingdom will be an incredible game (because it kind of has to be), but I don't think it will have the same kind of impact that Breath of the Wild had back in 2017; that's sort of the nature of direct sequels, right? Best case scenario is that TOTK is compared to BOTW in a similar way that Majora's Mask is compared to Ocarina of Time: some like it more, some think it's just fine, but most can agree that it's a sequel well worth playing.
Oh God, what if it's bad, though..?
ALANA: I either adore a Zelda game or I just can't click with it, but BOTW is my favourite in the series. So I can't imagine disliking TOTK. But I want to know what makes this one different. In the same way that A Link Between Worlds is to A Link to the Past, TOTK has to have something that really sets it apart from just the huge open world. We've seen that things will be more vertical, but will it be creepier? Will there be dungeons? Who knows! But the hype has been so high that I can see some being disappointed with what we get. However you feel about it though, a new Zelda game is always an exciting time.
JIM: MJ's line from Spider-Man: No Way Home rings through my mind whenever I think about this game (which, admittedly, is a lot): "expect disappointment and you will never be disappointed". Do I actually think that TOTK will be disappointing? No way. Being the huge Zelda boi that I am, I find it difficult to believe that I will feel anything other than love. This being said, I am ready for the experience to be 'BOTW with different colours'. Is it still likely to be my GOTY? Definitely. But I'm not expecting this one to reinvent the wheel.
GAVIN: Expectations are always impossibly high with these franchise sequels... and then Nintendo goes and produces a Galaxy 2 or a Mario Odyssey or, yep, a Breath of the Wild. Even the worst Zeldas are still pretty great video games and I've found that with age comes the ability to appreciate the good stuff and just leave the rest without dwelling on it and becoming utterly furious. That said, TOTK is my most anticipated game of the last decade and if any developer has proven it's able to surpass the most unrealistic of expectations, it's Nintendo. It's going to be a fun year.
And there we have it — some incredibly tentative predictions and hopes for 2023. Hey, we don't want to be the ones eating our hats when we're inevitably proved wrong — and Nintendo's hard to predict!
But what do you think will be the most surprising, long-awaited, or beloved game of the year? And when do you think we'll get our first Direct? Give us your predictions in the comments — but whatever you do, don't mention the Sw*tch P*o.