When the Nintendo Switch was first announced, and its level of power was still unconfirmed and somewhat up for debate, many people, including myself, dreamed of the Switch as the device that would do it all and change the games industry forever.
It was a handheld and a home console, with enough power to play AAA open world adventures, and, as such, many of us imagined the Switch getting every game ever, for the rest of time. Every game would come to Switch, and the Switch version would forever be the best version because of its portability. Nintendo was going to render their competitors obsolete.
Over time, things started to become a bit more clear.
Breath of the Wild struggled to not chug at 900p when docked. Porting Skyrim to Switch took a lengthy amount of time and the developers kept refusing to confirm if it was the remastered edition or not. 3rd party games got confirmed for release with Switch logos are still nowhere to be seen.
Many of us held on to hope. The Switch is selling amazingly well, currently keeping pace with the Wii in most territories, and many hoped, at the very least, this would result in pared-down ports of newly announced titles. Shadow of Mordor got a PS3 and 360 port, so why not a Switch port for Shadow of War? Call of Duty games came to Wii, so why not Switch? We held on to hope.
Shadow of War is not coming to Switch in any capacity. Call of Duty is not coming to Switch in any capacity. Assassin’s Creed is not coming to Switch. Red Dead Redemption 2 is not coming to Switch. Darksiders 3 is not coming to Switch.
The fact that Switch is off to such a positive sales start, but that this year’s biggest multiplatform AAA releases are not seeing any support on the platform feels worrying.
Look, I’m not saying that this lack of third-party ports in the Switch’s first year is a death sentence or anything, but it is rather telling of a few factors. It’s clearly not as easy to downscale and port a AAA game to Switch as many consumers had hoped. The mere fact that Switch supports the same engines these AAA games are developed in doesn’t necessarily mean they can be easily ported over to it.
The lack of support in year one may be down to lack of time to adapt to unexpectedly high sales data. Many did not expect the Switch to sell this well, and many publishers may be waiting to see how long the high sales continue and how well other third-party titles sell before committing the time to downgraded ports.
Still, this isn’t healthy for Nintendo. This first year implies to consumers that, once again, the Switch is mostly a 1st party system. You buy the Switch for Nintendo games, not to play 3rd party software, and that’s a real shame. Even if visually downgraded, 3rd party game ports that can be taken on the go would have made the Switch an incredibly strong system for third-party sales.
I really hope it can still achieve that. Being able to play a game on the go is simply better.