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Nintendo Switch third-party support will be more difficult as rival consoles evolve




  • The Nintendo Switch is finally getting the support from
    third-party developers and publishers that fans have been
    craving for years.
  • Unfortunately, many high-end third-party games are
    difficult to port to the Nintendo Switch — and that will only
    become more challenging when the next versions of the
    PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles arrive within the next few

After many years of neglect from third-party game makers,
Nintendo is finally getting some in-demand, heavy-hitting games
from outside developers thanks to the popularity of its
one-year-old console, the Switch.

Many of the games being ported to the Switch are on the older
side — the Nintendo Switch is less powerful than rival game
consoles, so it can’t keep up with many blockbuster games you can
play on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. But lately, some
developers have been able to get their newer games onto the
Switch just several months after launching those games on more
powerful consoles.

“Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus,” a game
that launched for the PS4 and Xbox One in October 2017, released
on the Nintendo Switch in June 2018.

“Doom,” which launched on the PS4 and Xbox One
in May 2016, came out on the Switch in November 2017. (The same
company that developed the port, Panic Button, is also working on
the sequel to this game, called “Doom Eternal,”
to be released “alongside” the PS4 and Xbox One. Whether that
means the release date will be the exact same day remains to be

“Fortnite,” which launched on PS4 and Xbox One
in October 2017, released on the Switch in June 2018.

Kotaku’s Ethan Gach
put so well, “the Nintendo Switch is a
port machine.” From the triple-A games listed above to other
indie titles like “Hollow Knight” and “Stardew Valley,” and even
Wii U titles that not many people experienced like “Donkey Kong
Country: Tropical Freeze” and “Bayonetta 2,” Nintendo’s portable
console has been a great way to give life to older games.

In its current form, the Nintendo Switch will continue to be a
great way to experience Nintendo games, indie games, and some
bigger third-party games. But the big third-party games that
everyone likes — the Dooms and Wolfensteins of the world — will
be more difficult to come by once rival consoles start evolving.
And that’s apparently already in the works.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are about to get new hardware

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both launched about five years
ago, in 2013. And both consoles are already more powerful than
the one-year-old Nintendo Switch.

The gulf in terms of power and capability is only going to widen.

Xbox vs PlaystationChristian Petersen/Getty

By all accounts,
it looks like Sony and Microsoft are about to upgrade their
respective game consoles
. Microsoft already
made its intentions clear
that it is working on the
next Xbox
. Sony is reportedly following suit with what will
likely become
the PlayStation 5

When those new game consoles arrive — likely around 2020 or 2021
— third-party developers and publishers will want to make

new games that are optimized
for that new hardware.

Much of their focus will be on those two game consoles, because
that’s where the money is: People have bought
over 76 million PlayStation 4 consoles
, and somewhere between
30 to 50 million Xbox Ones. Combined, that’s anywhere between 100
million to 120 million consoles sold. That’s a lot of money!

Nintendo is no slouch here, having sold nearly 20 million Switch
consoles in just about 18 months. But considering the
architectural similarities between the PlayStation and Xbox
consoles, it’s much easier to develop a game for both of those
consoles than it is for the standalone Switch, which has very
unique hardware that’s also less powerful compared to rivals.

The Nintendo Switch already doesn’t get the major tentpole games
like “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield.” But once games like that
get upgraded to be optimized for the next generation of consoles,
it’s going to be even harder for developers to port those same
games to the less-powerful Switch without sacrificing quality or
major features.

The silver lining for Nintendo

nintendo switchNintendo

Nintendo is having a nice moment right now, with so many big
publishers like Bethesda Softworks committing to putting their
most popular games on the Switch.

But even if some of that third-party support fades, Nintendo has
two big things going for it:

First-party titles. I don’t know about you,
but I didn’t buy my Nintendo Switch to play “Stardew Valley”
(though it’s a great game). I bought it to play “Zelda: Breath of
the Wild.” I bought it for “Super Mario Odyssey.” I bought it for
the promise of new Pokémon games, and Metroid games, and Smash
Bros. games. And guess what? Nintendo makes all of those games.
Even if outside support wanes, Nintendo’s north star has always
been its own game-making, and with wonderful new “Zelda” and
“Super Mario” titles in 2017, it’s clear Nintendo is still the
master of video game making.

A massive library of older games, and a growing number
of indie titles.
People always get excited about games
coming out in the future, but some of the best gaming experiences
have already been created and published. “Hollow Knight,” for
instance, is a treasure that not many people got to experience
last year on PC or Mac, but it feels right at home on the Switch.
Since Nintendo’s console can’t power the same kinds of
experiences as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, older games, and
less graphically intensive games from independent makers, work
best. And that contrast offers a great opportunity: While the
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One offer more visually benefits, the
Nintendo Switch could differentiate itself as the best way to
play those retro or indie games, since Switch games can support
more players and even be taken on the go. 

Nostalgia. Guess what the top-selling console
was in June? No, it wasn’t the PlayStation 4. Or the Xbox One. Or
even the Nintendo Switch! The top-selling console in June was
actually the NES Classic Edition, which was only on sale for two
days that month since it launched June 29. That’s huge. And
considering Nintendo has other “Classic Edition” consoles up its
sleeves — including the already released SNES
blueprints for a Nintendo 64 Classic
— Nintendo is in a
pretty good position right now to capitalize on its past.

Nintendo may never catch up to its rivals from a visual
standpoint, but Nintendo has also existed for 128 years, while
rivals can’t say the same. The company has innovated itself and
its products time and time again. But it’s still worth enjoying
this moment in time, where the Nintendo Switch is the closest it
will be to its console competitors. And who knows? Maybe
Nintendo’s next hardware will surprise everyone and narrow the
gap once again.


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