Metroid Prime 4's Release Date Could Be Sooner Than You Think
It’s been six years since the announcement of Metroid Prime 4 at E3 2017, and the only update we’ve gotten since then was the January 2019 announcement that the project was being rebooted under Retro Studios, the developer behind the original Prime trilogy. While the fourth game has endured a troubled development cycle, Nintendo’s radio silence could actually be serving another purpose: keeping marketing close to the chest until the game is on the cusp of release.
As of this writing, Nintendo has zero announced games releasing in 2023 after Pikmin 4 in July. There’s no way the company doesn’t have anything releasing in the second half of the year but, for some reason, Nintendo has been coy about announcing anything. Granted, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has the spotlight for the foreseeable future, but Nintendo has also been drastically switching up its marketing strategy in the last year.
Tears of the Kingdom has only three trailers and a short gameplay demo, which seems like a decidedly low-key approach for one of the year's biggest games. This ongoing air of mystery could ultimately play out in the game’s favor.
At the same time, Nintendo has kept other titles close to the chest until they’re almost ready for release. Fire Emblem Engage was announced a mere three months before release, and based on a Nintendo Dream interview we know the game entered development roughly around the same time as Three Houses. Even more recently, Nintendo announced the release date for Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed just one week before it came out.
All of these releases see Nintendo making a deliberate move to reduce the time from announcement to release, and that’s likely playing a part in why we don’t know the rest of the 2023 schedule. That also brings up the question of what Nintendo’s big Fall game will be, and Metroid Prime 4 seemingly fits into that slot perfectly.
Zelda and Kirby saw major releases this year. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet arrived late last year. Metroid would make sense as a big marquee title for the holidays. That’s especially true with the release of Metroid Prime Remastered, which has now sold over 1 million copies.
Nintendo isn’t the kind of company to release an ambitious remaster into the ether for no reason, and it’s likely the company will try to capitalize on that success with Metroid Prime 4 coming in hot. At the same time, Metroid Dread has become the best-selling game in the franchise, with over 2.9 million copies sold since its launch.
We’ve heard rumblings for a while now that Nintendo is working on a new system, and a new report from Nikkei claims development on it “seems to be progressing well.” In Nikkei’s report, according to a source close to Nintendo, we shouldn’t expect a product launch until spring 2024 at the earliest. This means Metroid Prime 4 could be coming in as a last hurrah for the Nintendo Switch, and/or as one of the first cross-platform games for the new system.
2023 is already another big year for Nintendo, and a big fall release like Metroid Prime 4 could help but a bow on what might be one of the last years for the Switch.