The video game landscape is changing a little bit? Or rather, going back to where it was a while ago. Nintendo, with the success of the Switch, appears to be becoming an attractive prospect for third-party developers again. It has been bumpy territory, since developers can’t just hit the “port” button, and everyone was clearly waiting to see what would happen first. But Ubisoft’s early support being well-received along with the launch library has led to some cool stuff, and 2K Games and Sega, to an extent, appears to be leading the charge of a return to three-console multiplatform support.
I’m referring of course to Sonic Forces and WWE 2K18. But mainly WWE 2K18, which was recently announced to have a Switch port. This is an interesting one, as this announcement comes some time after the game’s initial announcement and the port has, ostensibly, a different launch date. To me, this indicates the port was not initially planned and is a response to something. Could that something be sales numbers or perhaps the good will from a super well-received E3 2017 presence? Maybe all the Internet’s rambunctious port-begging paid off? Who knows.
What we do know is that not only is this port happening, but the announcement included indication that the set of features being announced for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game will be intact. This won’t be an alternative port, such as EA’s FIFA 18 – a well-received but slightly different game – or an original take on the idea. And this is exactly what needs to happen. The Switch needs not only multiplatform support, but confident multiplatform support.
I’m not expecting the game to be on par with the other two console versions entirely. That’s impossible. I do expect it to be the same game. It needs to be the same experience with the same feature set, and it needs to run smoothly. The compromise here, of course, has to be visual. WWE 2K18 on the Switch likely won’t be running at 1080p or, if it does, it will probably be lacking in the detail department. The name of the game here needs to be optimization. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both are PC-like hardware, which makes porting much easier than it was last generation. The Switch runs on modified mobile hardware, which could be problematic, but again much easier or at least more feasible than porting from an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 to a Wii. We all saw how that worked out.
Drop the resolution and the fidelity, but 2K Games needs to make sure that sucker can support its touted 8-man matches and still maintain a stable frame rate. That’s what people are going to pay attention to the most. We saw on launch day what could happen if enough care isn’t taken with a Switch port of a PlayStation 4 game. Dragon Quest Heroes I & II, a combo port of the PS4 and PC games, looks great on Switch, but it runs like a garbage fire. If the game makes it over here I’ll be shocked, even despite the relative success of the previously localized versions. Out of the gate, that port made the Switch look like a joke.
If 2K Games can make it happen, if WWE 2K18 will truly be a portable version of the same game that you can play on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, that’s money. That’s a proof of concept come to life. Even if the game sucks, and based on the recent track record of the WWE 2K series there is certainly a trend of disappointment, it doesn’t matter. If 2K can get its yearly sports games up and running on this thing? The Switch’s early reputation of a 20-somethings party machine will be proven wrong. Don’t mess this up, folks; this could be a big deal!