It’s nothing special now to point out how well the Nintendo Switch has done since it launched. We’ve seen it over and over again; NPD numbers with the Switch constantly on top, million-plus sales numbers even for unproven IPs, and hardware sales goals constantly being readjusted with growing numbers. Nintendo of course has benefitted the most; it came out guns blazing and dropped core Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda games within the same year, on top of Splatoon 2, ARMS, and a Mario Kart 8 port that sold like Mario Kart 8 had never existed before.
But another thing that happened was smaller games living in that space in and around indies, but not third-party AAAs, exploded on that thing. Nicalis dropped retail box games and sold a bajillion copies of The Binding of Isaac. A Street Fighter II port sold more copies than a new Marvel vs Capcom. Crazy things happened on the Switch when most companies were obviously skeptical and hesitating. These companies have realized this. And now the Nintendo Switch arms race is on.
November 7, 2017. It’s shareholder call season. All the big publishers are talking about how the fiscal year has gone and what the plans for 2018 are, all without saying too much. Ubisoft brags about Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Nintendo sells millions of copies of Super Mario Odyssey in three days. And Bandai Namco opens the floodgates on the “damn, we should have done more with the Switch” stories. Since then, Bandai Namco has said it has three big Switch exclusives planned for 2018. This is the company that publishes big names like Dark Souls and Dragon Ball, which only dropped a few ports on the system to test the waters. A statement from the company’s President sets the stage here: “It’s a shame, but we didn’t think the Switch would be accepted this fast.”
November 8, 2017. Time for Square Enix. Square Enix is enjoying a banner year thanks to massive success from Final Fantasy XV and NieR: Automata. Its Switch support included a port of I Am Setsuna and a demo for Octopath Traveler. A poorly optimized Dragon Quest Heroes collection is also out there, likely staying a Japan exclusive due to bad press. The company says the Switch is perfect for “mid-range titles,” and the company plans to work on those “aggressively.” The company is even looking at all its IP, not ruling out “new ones, currently active ones, currently not-active ones.” A remake of Secret of Mana is coming to PS4, Vita, and PC soon. This is likely the final remnant of Switch gun-shyness. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is swapping Switch for Vita.
November 10, 2017. Next is Capcom. It has released Street Fighter II port, a Resident Evil: Revelations collection, and a Monster Hunter port (in Japan so far). Now for the part where I reiterate, Ultra Street Fighter II sold more in its opening week than Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Now, Capcom is talking up plans to release more games for the Switch starting in April, the start of the next fiscal year. The company only name-drops Ace Attorney, a calculated move for sure.
These are three examples of big, Japanese companies, all three of whom are expressing regret (outwardly in the case of Namco Bandai) with not supporting the Switch out of the gate. These companies tepidly tossed out some ports in the usual “third parties pretending to support a new platform” deal typical of new Nintendo systems. This obviously backfired in a way, with sales that were likely higher than expected for all these games, but not as high as they would have been for more excitable releases.
And now, it’s on. The stuff has hit the fan and the Switch is clearly where you need to be, just as much as the other platforms. It just requires effort, and these companies are coming to realize that. Nintendo may have dropped its megatons already, but things are still looking good for Switch owners in 2018.