The Switch is already a dynamite console. It's breaking records with nearly every major release and certainly making up for lost progress with the Wii U. And it’s only getting stronger as third parties rush to get as much content as possible, even software that has already lived on other platforms. As we moved from E3 2017 to E3 2018, a certain brand of software began to appear on the console, software that has long been the domain of PC and mobile, with some console appearances as well. I’m talking about MOBAs and Battle Royale games, the key genres of particularly younger gamers in 2018. These are games that exist in free to play territory, generating tons of income and attracting key demographics and attention. Typically, these games don’t make it to handhelds, but the Switch in unique. Can games like Fortnite and Paladins take the Switch to an even higher level?
Fortnite along should be enormous, for several reasons. First, the Battle Royale genre itself could not be hotter. The concept of 100 players battling until one survives, popularized by Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale novel and Kinji Fukasaku’s adaptation film, has been a pipe dream for gamers for nearly 20 years. H1Z1, PUBG, and Fortnite made it a reality, and the latter has come ahead as the clear winner, and social phenomenon. Epic Games’ take on the genre made a huge impact when it landed on PC and consoles as a free to play side mode, but things got even crazier when the mobile version dropped.
The mobile version of Fortnite has had such a penetrative impact on society that it has actually caused disruption and chaos in school environments. From kids not paying attention to the full on shutdown of school wi-fi networks, there’s no sign this thing is slowing down. Now imagine that translating over to a platform that can be portable, with a real, tactile controller, then plugged back into the TV seamlessly when you get back home from school. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s going to be huge. But what about the games that aren’t Fortnite?
Also coming to Switch are Paladins and Arena of Valor. Paladins is a hero shooter from Hi-Rez Studios, and will be the first of its kind to make it to the console. That’s a big deal. Being first is huge in an era where getting content on the Switch is a literal gold rush. Also beneficial is the fact that juggernaut Overwatch likely can’t be acceptably pared down for the Switch, meaning the console is officially the wild west in that space. Launching first as a paid package before the free to play version may hurt it a little with confused messaging, but people legitimately like Paladins, and it’s already confirmed to run at 60 frames per second. Timing is everything in this case.
Arena of Valor is Chinese mega-corporation Tencent’s infamous mobile MOBA game that has taken China by storm. It took a while for it to come over here, namely because its name and aesthetic was changed for the US market for some reason, but has made quite an impact on the mobile space already, with nearly a five-star rating on the US app store. Being on Switch however will give the game a totally new platform, and once again space that isn’t already taken up. This will also likely be paired with the Switch finally releasing in China, which will be a whole new story of success.
It’s really interesting to see what does and doesn’t make it to the Switch, especially in these kinds of unconventional territories that haven’t had much genre presence on Nintendo hardware in the past. This is, in a way, uncharted territory. Will Nintendo leverage this content to get its platforms in front of more eyes than ever? Or have the fanbases already settled elsewhere? Once the dust from E3 2018 settles and the summer ends, we’ll begin to find out.