The Nintendo Switch Is Mostly Getting Ports. That’s OK. (Part Two)

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After the Nintendo Direct in January I said that the Nintendo Switch mostly receiving ports of games from other systems was fine. It still is after this week’s Direct. In fact I’m satisfied with this direct because Nintendo announced the Switch was getting some ports I’ve been waiting for (and there’s at least one other I hope gets announced later).

What we’re seeing now is really a shift in the purpose dedicated handheld gaming systems serve alongside a shift in how third party game developers operate. If you didn’t complain about all the ports for the PlayStation Vita, you can’t really complain about the ones on the Switch.

I think Octopath Traveler was the only third party exclusive showcased in that Direct, but the concept of the third party exclusive in general has been in decline for a while. They simply don’t make sense anymore with today’s production costs and the similarities between all the competing platforms.

The Switch (and the PlayStation Vita before it) is much more similar to its home console competition than possibly any handheld before, so it makes sense for it to receive ports of console games. Previous Nintendo handhelds got a lot of exclusive third party games because they were so different consoles and had such large install bases. Something like Castlevania Order of Ecclesia had to be designed for the DS because that kind of game didn’t make sense on the PlayStation 3. Today, it doesn’t make sense to publish something like Valkyria Chornicles 4 only for one system. The Vita reached a point where many of its games were mulitplatform between it and the PlayStation 4, and the Switch seems as if it was designed specifically for the developers of those games. Today’s dedicated gaming handhelds really have become extensions of consoles, whereas before they were more of their own thing.

Aside from the advancement of handheld hardware, the main reason this probably happened was the increased pressure from the mobile market. The Japanese developers that made so many of the exclusives for the DS and 3DS transitioned to mobile. Much of the audience that bought the DS’s mainstream hits like Brain Age and Nintendogs are also probably playing mobile games today. Dedicated handhelds got squeezed from two sides and eventually sort of merged with consoles.

I honestly never had a problem with playing the same games on a TV and on a portable screen. Other entertainment media have been identical across big and portable screens since forever. Video games just have some physical obstacles to go through in that regard. There’s no creative force that prevents it.

As such, I’m seriously thinking about buying Okami for the fourth time even though I still need to install the PC version. Captain Toad is one of the last Wii U games I was waiting to see ported to the Switch. I was also kind of hoping to see some kind of confirmation of recent rumors about Diablo III coming to Switch. It still seems like that’s happening though.

It could be argued that the first party exclusives are still what’s selling the Switch. To be perfectly honest, right now Zelda Breath of the Wild is enough for me as far as Switch gaming is concerned. The biggest announcement from the Direct was definitely Smash. But first party exclusives, almost the last exclusive console games left these days, are made to sell platforms. 3rd party publishers don’t have to help sell a platform, they just have to sell games, and today that means releasing them for as many platforms as possible.

BULLETS:

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