EA was one of the first companies to abandon the Wii U, and the mass exodus from the platform is one of the reasons Western third parties have been so gun shy about supporting the Nintendo Switch, so far. EA originally promised a single game, FIFA 2018, but upon recognizing the Nintendo Switch as what may be the next Wii-tier success, the company has stated its interest in supporting the console with additional releases. This could be the first crack in the dam.
If EA, a company infamous for its willingness to quickly cut losses and burn bridges, is willing to come back to the Nintendo fold for the Switch, we may be seeing the start of third parties migrating to Nintendo Switch en masse. The allure of a new console is always stronger than its technological limitations, if it’s successful.
And few words can describe the Nintendo Switch more accurately than successful.
Nintendo can’t keep the system adequately stocked, and it has single-handedly reinvigorated the long dead Japanese console gaming market, where even the current top dog PS4 was a bit of a flop. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been critically hailed as one of the greatest games ever made, and it’s on pace to be the best selling entry in the franchise. Mario Kart 8 has also seen critical acclaim, and will undoubtedly sell more copies than Breath of the Wild. The Nintendo Switch hasn’t even seen its first holiday yet, and its setting sales records.
As if the potential for massive sales on the Nintendo Switch weren’t enough of a reason to port games to the platform, Nintendo has gone out of their way to make sure porting games will be an incredibly simple task, one that can be done quickly. Is the Nintendo Switch hardware weaker? Yes, but games can be scaled down, and the Nintendo Switch’s ability to run Casa Barragan at 720p without proper optimization highlights that. It’s not like developers will be targeting 4k on the platform that has a built-in 720p display.
Nintendo has changed the game. I know I’d rather play Madden on Nintendo Switch than PS4, and I’m not alone. Many gamers are willing to eat a large hit to graphical performance in order to have portability. It’s combining the appeal of mobile with the quality of console. At this point, not supporting the Nintendo Switch will cost third parties a lot of money in lost potential sales. That’s why EA is just the beginning.