Does it need to be $60? We used to get plenty of budget games from Nintendo. I know it’s their philosophy nowadays but it seems ridiculous to be all-or-nothing and completely forgo the budget experiences they used to embrace.
Even still, I don’t see the evidence for why a full priced Starfox couldn’t sell. Starfox games have been at least a million sellers in the past, as recently as 64 3D and going back to Assault/Adventures. If we’re looking at Zero as the indicator of current interest in Starfox, then as I said, it’s clear why that game bombed. Gimmicky controls and gimmicky mechanics that didn’t meaningfully improve the experience, a retread of the N64 game in setting and levels, a very mixed critical reception and on a platform with a fraction of the Switch user base. As a huge Star Fox fan nothing about it appealed to me and made me want to support that direction so I bought it when it hit a dirt cheap price. Wasn’t the worst game I’d played but it completely missed the mark on what I wanted from a modern Starfox game.
And Starlink is not a Starfox game. That game had its own issues and a tie-in to another franchise (that didn’t emulate the gameplay of said franchise) wasn’t going to stop the fact that it was an expensive toys to life game in a time where that bubble had burst not too long before it released (I know it wasn’t TTL in the same way as Disney Infinity or Skylanders but on the face of it that’s what it looked like to most).
If they made a solid, completely original game today focusing on what makes Starfox Starfox and it flopped then sure- it’s fair to assume there’s no interest in the franchise any more. But Zero should not be the litmus test for whether desire for more Starfox exists because it’s so clear why that game struggled. I’d hope Nintendo would be able to recognise that but I’m not holding my breath. “It needs to be changed further” is completely the opposite to what needs to be done to Starfox and that’s exactly the problem. The last time we got a game that was exactly what most fans wanted from the franchise was 64 3D, and the time before that was...Starfox 64 itself. Since then we’ve had games that branched off into totally different genres (Adventures and Command), Assault that was half classic and half third-person shooter and Zero that tried to reinvent a wheel that hadn’t even been given a chance to wear out. Make a game that caters to the fans who’ve wanted just a great, no nonsense arcade shooter since Starfox 64 and then we’ll have a good idea of whether the franchise is dead or not, because that’s what people actually want.