The Nintendo Switch Third Party Port Situation

The Nintendo Switch is obviously not very powerful compared to any other console on the market. In fact, there’s better and more powerful handhelds on the market though these are designed around PC gaming on the go, whereas the Switch is a console through and through. With each year passing the hardware inside the Switch gets more and more outdated and it’s really starting to show. First party games have pretty much maxed out what can be achieved and new hardware will help eliminate a lot of the problems the developers are facing. But more than that, third party ports are becoming increasingly less frequent. Once again, new hardware will help create a whole new wave of ports. Primarily those that perhaps required too much work to make the port on current hardware, but maybe the odd game from current generation hardware too. 

Saying all this, it’s important to keep in mind though on the surface, the Switch is more akin to that of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation, it’s actually more modern in many ways and has a little bit more processing power. It’s because of this a lot of these games are likely able to be ported. This may especially be true with the forthcoming Batman Arkham Trilogy. The first two games came out on the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation, but Dark Knight came out on the successor consoles. In fact, at the time it was in development, Rocksteady stated it wouldn’t be possible to run on the old aging hardware. Yet, here we are in 2023 with that game now getting that downgrade port. So there must be something more to the Switch and it’s underlying architecture that makes these things possible. 

Let’s take a look at the games that have seen ports to the Switch. Bethesda kicked things off with Skyrim which was shown during the initial announcement of the Switch way back in 2016. It’s interesting to think what could have come to the Switch and it’s successor if Microsoft hadn’t purchased the company. The Doom reboot was at the time considered an impossible port and sure it had some significant downgrades but it worked. Weirdly, Wolfenstein didn’t come to the Switch despite a port being out there on similar powered hardware. I say it’s weird because the second game in the reboot did make it across, though it does seem to be perhaps a bit too taxing for the hardware.

Outside of Bethesda, we have seen impossible ports in the way of The Witcher III. It’s a serious downgrade but it’s all there, and actually on a cartridge. Heck Dying Light and World War Z both got the port treatment to the Switch. Not so impossible but still ported we’re LA Noire, the Bioshock trilogy and Alien Isolation. 

It obviously helps that the Switch hardware has continued to sell tens of millions without a price cut. But unlike the Wii which sold 100 million, people are actually purchasing games for the Switch too. If Nintendo can achieve similar successes with the next console then we should have no problem getting more ports. The question is, with publishers and developers slowly becoming under the ownership of a select few, will there be that many left to release games on Nintendo hardware? Activision Blizzard is next on that acquisition list, and although ten years of Call of Duty has been signed, what about the other franchises? Bethesda won’t be porting anything either. Then you look at the likes of Rockstar and, well don’t expect either GTA V, VI or Red Dead Redemption 2 on either current hardware or the next console. 

It’s probably a good thing that Nintendo has and will always rely mostly on its own developers and franchises to sell hardware and, therefore, sell games. Though we have seen a large amount of games either entirely or partly outsourced as even Nintendo has limits on the amount they can pump out. They are attempting to address this with the building and opening of more office space to ramp up their resources. 

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