Whenever a new console launches, there are always instances of port begging. People have something shiny and new. They want something tried and true to play on it. It’s understandable. I mean, I’d probably pay one zillion dollars right now, if it meant Persona 5 would instantaneously appear on my Nintendo Switch. But when it comes to the Switch, some of this begging isn’t being properly thought through.
What got me thinking about this? Well, it was a comment from Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch’s Director, that got me thinking. When asked about a port, he mentioned that Blizzard is open-minded about platforms, but notes the challenge that would come from revisiting performance and building a version of the experience that would run on and be at a similar level as the existing PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game.
People need to understand the effort that goes into these sorts of AAA games. Something the size and scope of an Overwatch, Call of Duty, or Destiny isn’t a plug and play affair. While much ado has been made about Sumo Digital getting Snake Pass running on the Switch within a week, that is a very specific case and a game that doesn’t involve getting online infrastructures up and running. It’s a self-contained experience running on Unreal Engine 4, not a more delicate, custom engine.
They also need to understand the limitations of the Switch hardware. Now, I’ve had no problems whatsoever when it comes to connecting to the internet on mine. Things are great. But some people have reported receiving DNS errors when attempting to get online. Rebooting the system helps some, but you can’t go doing that in the middle of games like Overwatch, Call of Duty, or Destiny, can you? Others have had issues connecting to the internet while docked. It’s a fiddly thing, and that’s not something you want with a game where you need that constant, secure, and reliable connection. I’m not saying the system couldn’t support these sorts of games, but that maybe it isn’t quite ready yet.
But then, with the way Switch handles online socialization, maybe it’s best if these companies take their time seeing how possible ports could work. Remember, a game like Destiny, Call of Duty, or Overwatch work best when you’re able to communicate with the other people playing. The Switch is going to force people to use a smartphone app to communicate. Can you imagine how annoying that might end up being with such intense games? I’d probably forgo any kind of communication efforts, rather than deal with having to have my phone fully charged and nearby so I can talk to people in my game while I game.
Nintendo’s Switch is a system with a bright future. It does a lot of new and daring things. Instead of immediately port begging for intensive, AAA multiplayer games though, maybe we should give it some time to settle in. Let some system patches that add features and improve functionality arrive. See how it handles other multiplayer games, like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe before asking for Overwatch or other games.