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The Switch's Growing Third Party Problem

The Switch's Growing Third Party Problem - Article

by Thomas Froehlicher , posted on 26 July 2021 / 646,930 Views

The Nintendo Switch is a worldwide success, already selling significantly more than the 3DS in just four years. And yet, when watching this year's many E3 conferences and announcements, third parties tended to focus on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series, despite Nintendo's hybrid still topping hardware sales charts in many territories.

The Switch missed out on most of the big third party announcements at E3, and indeed has done for a few months now. Most major games third party games won't be getting a Switch version, including Lost Judgment, Elden Ring, Tales of Arise, Rainbow Six Extraction, Diablo IV, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles, Far Cry 6, Battlefield 2042, King of Fighters XV, GRID Legends, Dead Space Remake, and of course Final Fantasy XVI. I've obviously omitted a lot of lower profile releases that are also only coming to PlayStation and/or Xbox platforms there. It's clear that the Switch is going to progressively fall behind in terms of the amount of major new releases.

The Nintendo E3 Direct did reveal some new third party games, including Super Monkey Ball: Banana ManiaMarvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, and Life is Strange: True Colors, but just a handful, and outside of those we were only treated to some very late ports (Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Danganronpa Decadence, and Life is Strange Remastered Collection). The Switch is still a hot item for consumers, but no so much for major third party publishers, where a clear trend is starting to emerge - that of third parties providing few games for Switch but a fairly consistent number of new high-profile titles for Xbox and PlayStation platforms. It's a major failure for Nintendo and its third party relations that, even after four years of incredible sales success, the manufacturer is unable to cultivate a diverse and ambitious line-up from them.

While being left behind in terms of AAA games, Nintendo has managed to turn the Switch into a key system for AA Japanese games. We can mention Koei Tecmo here, with Samurai/Dynasty Warriors games being made for Switch despite the company's somewhat quiet participation in the 3DS market. The Atelier series has also had favorable sales performance on Nintendo's hybrid, with the Ryza series achieving a shipment total of one million. Persona too has had a Switch entry, in the form of Persona 5 Strikers. And Square Enix has supported the Switch with its Japanese output, most notably with Trials of Mana and Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Publishers who are able target family audiences have also achieved record profits thanks to the Switch; the long term success of Tsuri Spirits (a fishing title created by Bandai Namco which has sold over 500,000 units in Japan), Story of Seasons (250,000 sold by Marvelous in March), and Momotaro Dentetsu (an enormous three million copies sold) demonstrate that the Switch offers access to a formidable market - publishers just need to be able to grasp the interests of that particular audience in order to tap into it.

But the core gaming market is a different story even in Japan and, despite the Switch's solid foothold in its home country, even smaller third parties are beginning to hesitate on this front. Aquaplus is making Utawarerumono Zan 2 for PS4 and PS5 only. Kadokawa, despite releasing numerous Switch titles up until now, has gone PlayStation-only for its newest IP, Relayer. Falcom has been contracting with Nippon Ichi Software for Switch ports, but still won't jump on the Switch bandwagon for Kuro no Kiseki. The next mainline entry in The Legend of Heroes series will also be PS4-only at launch, following a lengthy period of time when the platform of choice was "undecided". No single port of Ys or The Legend of Heroes for Switch has managed to sell more than 10,000 units in Japan (less than 10% of the total audience for those titles), which probably explains the decision.

Compile Heart is also an interesting case - initially keen on moving to Switch after profitable but declining Vita years, the company has seen its sales crumble. Not only did its Switch ports sell miserably (for example, Mary Skelter 2 sold 2,000 units at launch, five times less than the PS4 version), but its PlayStation releases have also begun to draw in fewer customers. Neptunia Virtual Stars sold around 14,000 in 2020, while its PlayStation Vita releases usually shipped 40-50,000 during the platform's peak. Mary Skelter Finale, which was released on Switch and PS4 at the same time, sold a mere 11,000 copies, half of what Mary Skelter Nightmares managed in 2016 on the PlayStation Vita alone. These performances have forced Compile Heart to be a lot more discreet when it comes to Nintendo's hybrid. Currently, the surprising ninja crossover between Neptunia and Senran Kagura, Senran Ninja Taisen Neptune, is set to be a PS4-only release, and the publisher is now quietly smuggling commercial failures (Dragon Star Valnir, Death End Request 2) onto Switch as digital-only eShop releases. 

Another example comes courtesy of the port of God Eater 3 on Switch in 2019 - it sold around 25,000 units, several times less than the PS4 version, and significantly less than God Eater 2 Rage Burst's almost 350,000 sold by the end of 2015 on PSVita. That probably led Bandai Namco to focus more on home consoles and PC, first with Code Vein and then again more recently with Scarlet Nexus - two highly acclaimed, big budget releases from the Japanese publisher. While I think the Switch will continue to have a steady stream of AA games, Western and Japanese alike, most of them aren't likely to chart highly on a global level.

As third parties begin to look elsewhere, Nintendo is also losing a number of former exclusives. Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water is being revived on all consoles, despite being a notorious WiiU exclusive. It's strange that Koei Tecmo, which has made millions by participating in both the development and publishing of Hyrule Warriors, won't grant even the smallest exclusive to Nintendo of its own accord. Rune Factory 4, a significant 3DS exclusive when it first released, is now also coming to PS4 and Xbox One. Even Ace Attorney is now releasing on PS4. So at the same time that it's being left out of many new release announcements, Nintendo is also finding many long-running third party exclusive franchises are diversifying. Surely this should be a cause of concern for Nintendo, which needs to look far ahead beyond the Switch's short and medium term success.

Of course, the Switch does have third party exclusives, but is time running out on these? One recent major exclusive is Monster Hunter Rise, which has had a strong start (seven million shipped), but the gap between it and the multiplatform Monster Hunter World (17 million shipped, plus an additional 7.7 million for Iceborne) remains large. Isn't it more likely that Capcom will decide to opt for the larger PlayStation, Xbox, and PC market next time? Another example is Rune Factory 5, which has yet to hit the West. But the upcoming launch of Rune Factory 4 Special on PS4, Xbox One, and PC might be a sign that the fifth entry isn't going to be a Switch exclusive for very long. Things look better for Shin Megami Tensei V, which looks set to become a worldwide hit, but beyond that there's only Project Triangle Strategy, an indie-styled tactical-RPG from Square Enix. Will these be enough to withstand the tidal wave of PS5 & Xbox Series blockbusters in 2022?

Of course the truth is that the economic history between Nintendo and third parties hasn't always been very rosy. When it's not developing a Mario game, Ubisoft sees just 11% of its total business on Switch, while its traditional target platforms (PlayStation, Xbox, and PC) represent more than 70%. And given that a large chunk of that 11% must be for Just Dance, which is especially popular on the Switch, you can imagine why the French company isn't closer to Nintendo, despite the successful partnership with the Rabbids IP. According to Nintendo's own financial results, 20% of software sales come from third party games and 80% from first party titles. For comparison, PlayStation first party games accounted for only 17% of PlayStation software sales over the same period (a period that included The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima).

It's not just Ubisoft, either. Warner's Mortal Kombat 11 had an estimated market share of just 4.2% on Switch in the UK, and also fell faster than PS4 and Xbox versions in NPD rankings. Bethesda's Doom Eternal failed to chart in European eShop rankings when it eventually released on the hybrid system, showing little sales potential for shooters amongst Nintendo's audience. But I think the most striking example is that of The Outer Worlds - when it was ported to Switch in June 2020 it ranked 30th in the combined UK chart, the same week that 51 Worldwide Games took 6th place. In other words, Switch players would rather play chess from Nintendo than pick up an ambitious third party port. There couldn't be a more negative message for those third parties that are working hard to push the boundaries of gaming experiences and offer them to Switch gamers.

Nintendo has managed to successfully win a new type of audience centered on what I'd call the nostalgic indie market. The indie game market has grown considerably in recent years, and by retaining an element of gaming on the go Nintendo has provided the right tool for those looking to experience more modest software and retro, or retro-inspired, releases. These games tend to be more enjoyable on a smaller screen and are perfect for short play sessions - while travelling or commuting, for example.

In this field there have been a number of Switch sales success stories - Hollow Knight's sales were significantly boosted by the release of the Switch version, for example, and Kamiko reached an impressive 250,000 units sold before even releasing on other systems. Hades also made a big impression last year, both critically and commercially, selling over one million units on PC and Switch (sales for Switch alone were unspecified). The indie gaming market has reached something like critical mass, appealing to millions of customers. By playing host to them and allowing indie developers to flourish on Switch, Nintendo has built up an asset for the future, but I fear that's not enough and certainly not an alternative to the third party publishers who can and do produce AAA games.

While it's not a problem for indie developers, technology is a major obstacle to third party investment in Switch. Unlike Sony and Microsoft, who make hardware decisions while taking into account feedback from a wide range of developers, Nintendo makes hardware for its own needs and based around its own specific strategy. Developers have to make do, and it's not always simple or easy. Since the Switch's commercial success prompted many third parties to jump back on-board after years of Wii/WiiU drought, there have been technical issues with several ports, including releases like Cities XL and Ark: Survival Evolved. The framerate in particular sometimes dips below acceptable levels, especially in Deadly Premonition 2, a bug-ridden exclusive that goes as low as <10 frame per second

Overwatch was also cited as a notoriously poor port, casting doubts on Switch's relevancy for online games. Blizzard has already warned that the Switch version of Overwatch 2 "requires more work" and "won't see graphic improvements". Overwatch Switch runs at a mediocre 720p 30fps, against the PS4's 1080p 60 fps. A final and perhaps most telling example comes courtesy of what many consider to be one of the Switch's third party success stories - The Witcher III. As pointed out by French video game site JeuxVideo, you need to wait up to one minute and thirty seconds to retry after a game over. In the era of SSD drives, the Switch's prospects in terms of third party games can be illustrated by the following question: who in their right mind will want to go back from instant loading to waiting one minute and thirty seconds to respawn?

Nintendo knows that this lack of power is one of the Switch's big weakness and has attempted get around the problem by other means, including cloud gaming. It was announced at E3 that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy will be coming to Switch at the same time as other versions thanks to this cloud technology, which is a big plus for Nintendo. However, cloud gaming is not a product but rather a service; you no longer own the games, you can't re-sell them, and performance is heavily dependent on your online environment and on the service continuing. Even if could gaming is considered the way forward for gamers, aren't they more likely to opt for Microsoft's superior Game Pass system?

There's another factor that makes the Switch less essential for third parties, and the answer is probably in your pocket. A lot of big gaming companies are making large sums of money from smartphone games, to such an extent that we're starting to see games and series being divided into high-end games (on PC/PlayStation/Xbox) and free-to-play mobile releases (on smartphones and sometimes PC). This has been the case with Final Fantasy, Sword Art Online, Tales of, Utawarerumono, Kingdom Hearts, NieR, Call of Duty, and many, many more franchises. The Switch is in an awkward position here - it has neither the power of rival consoles, especially the PS5 and XS, nor the vast install base of phones. Apple ships more iPhones every year than the Switch (or any other dedicated handheld) will sell in its lifetime, hence the shift in focus away from dedicated handhelds.

Considering all of this, the Switch Pro was beginning to look like a critical item for the Switch's future, at least for third parties. But now it's been officially denied with the unveiling of the Switch OLED, a new iteration without any power or technological upgrade. Many Nintendo fans were thunderstruck by this; they know that a console closer at the very least to the PS4 in terms of power is needed to attract third parties, especially while cross-gen titles are still the norm. The longer Nintendo waits, the more developers will move away from the PS4 and embrace PS5 and Xbox Series' technical standards. And while the Switch maintains an enormous install base advantage over those new systems, the PS5 (alone) and Xbox Series (together) are selling faster than Switch launch aligned, meaning more growth opportunities in the years to come for publishers. Now it feels like Nintendo needs a Switch PROLED model if it's to make progress with third parties and thus have a relevant and drought-free software line-up in the months and years to come. 

The Kyoto firm is now also set to face direct competition in the handheld arena, with the upcoming debut of the SteamDeck. While significantly pricier than the Switch OLED, the SteamDeck will probably attract more core gamers thanks to its power and huge line-up of PC games, both past and future. Nomad gamers switching to the SteamDeck would make it even harder for Nintendo to maintain the interest of third parties in the Switch ecosystem. 

I believe that Nintendo is progressively running out of time to appeal beyond its traditional base and the casual audience. It's true that the Switch and Nintendo are both performing well financially even without much big-budget third party backing (as seen above, third party software makes up a small percentage of all the games sold on Switch). But what happens when the mainstream market becomes saturated? Nintendo might struggle to find third party system sellers to appeal beyond its base. Perhaps Nintendo isn't even looking at it that way - and the E3 Direct would support this theory I think - but rather thinks of itself as appealing to an entirely different audience, one that has no real interest in state-of-the-art technology and AAA games. Prioritizing WarioWare, Mario Party, and a 2D Metroid over a modern Fire Emblem, Metroid Prime 4, and enhanced processing clearly shows, I think, that Nintendo is going for the "low investment, high return" strategy. Core gaming, great graphics, new IPs... all of that will have to wait, maybe until the next generation of hardware.

Perhaps third parties don't really matter that much to Nintendo or its audience, but putting everything in the mainstream market basket is, in my view, a risky bet. When a new generation begins, casual gamers don't automatically follow. We all saw how the WiiU dramatically failed despite the Wii's huge success - the mainstream felt no need to upgrade and did so only when the Switch started to make a buzz. Can Nintendo both revolutionize hardware after the Switch concept and carry that audience with it? Isn't there a good chance they'll be happy to stick with the Switch, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Ring Fit for a few more years?

Unlike Sony and Microsoft's audience, which is almost immediately ready to jump to the next generation for more power and the newest releases, less dedicated gamers are a lot more volatile. While every PlayStation home console has eventually been a hit since the brand began in 1994, Nintendo's history has been more hit-or-miss since the Super Nintendo. That's why Nintendo, when looking several years ahead to the next generation and beyond, should be trying to build solid third party alliances, rather than thinking of them as an afterthought; the latter just pushes developers and publishers into Microsoft and Sony's spheres of influence.

The Switch is starting to look very much comparable to the Wii. Both were smashing sales successes that gave rise to a lot of enthusiasm at first, but eventually resulted in disillusioned third parties, new release drought, and a demoralized fanbase. From my perspective Nintendo seems to be repeating the same mistakes it made in the middle of the Wii era, by being technology-adverse, persisting with outdated hardware, and failing to capitalise on incredible sales figures by building up third party relations and ensuring a steady stream of AAA software support. Despite initially dominating the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Wii collapsed around five years after its debut, when both third parties and the casual audience moved on. It got an original Metroid game at around the same time that this happened; is this a sign that, as they say in SoulCalibur, history is eternally retold? Considering the respective momentum of both systems at the same period in time, I don't see the Switch declining so quickly, but third parties might not be prepared to wait around to find out.

After graduating from a French business school, Thomas felt an irresistible force drawing him to study Japanese, which eventually led him to Japanese Profeciency Test level 1 in 2012. During the day, Thomas is a normal account manager. But at night he becomes Ryuzaki57, an extreme otaku gamer hungry for Japanese games (preferably with pretty girls in the main role). His knowledge now allows him to import games at Japanese release for unthinkable prices, and then tell everyone about them. You may also find him on French video games media. Feel free to contact on twitter at @Ryuz4ki57

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Machina (on 26 July 2021)

My view: I think Nintendo's had an issue with AAA third party support for its home consoles for a couple of decades now, and that the company identified this as being a problem particularly during the Wii era. Its response was the WiiU and an attempt - who knows how serious or how half-hearted, but a conscious attempt nonetheless - to woo third parties. It didn't work; the big third parties for the most part (there are obvious exceptions here and there) just aren't interested in Nintendo's home consoles and probably never will be.

Even the Switch and its almost 100 million install base isn't converting third parties, so I struggle to envision a future scenario in which a Nintendo home console does have huge third party support, except for scenarios where something extreme has happened like Sony exiting the industry.

But, and this is the main thing, I don't actually think it's a problem. And I think Nintendo's alternative approach is better for the company - the strategy of building its platforms entirely around its own first party output. Such a strategy means Nintendo will succeed when it manages to capture mainstream imagination (Wii, Switch), and fail when it doesn't and is then limited to just its core fans (GC, WiiU).

That does mean there will be some commercial failures along the way, like the GameCube, but the ceiling when they get it right is incredibly high (as the Switch is showing), and it means Nintendo's almost completely unreliant on third party offerings.

  • +29
SKMBlake (on 27 July 2021)

Like pretty much all comments, I noticed huge mistakes, misconceptions and false assummtions in pretty much everything you wrote
We have a huge amount of games selling better on the Switch rather than other platforms (Sakuna being the most recent example, and it wasn't even planned for the Switch), you decided to focus instead on very late ports or UK charts (which are known for not being representative os Switch's success at all - I mean would you use japanese sales as metric for Xbox sales ?).
Stating that the PS5 and Xbox Series are selling faster than the Switch is another huge problem: they launched durong holiday period, of course their sales will be huge.
And you're comparing Monster Hunter World sales, which was released 3 years ago, with Rise which released 4 months ago, I mean really ?
And you totally shifted to loading speedd while mentioning the Witcher 3, I mean is this a market analysis or Digital Foundry article ?
I'm sorry but this is very poorly written and badly thought.

And btw: Life Is Strange Remaster Collection is not a "very late port", it will also release this year on other platforms.

  • +26
Sogreblute (on 26 July 2021)

While I agree Nintendo has a AAA problem, it's mostly AAA Western support that's the problem. Nintendo has great Indie and AA support. Their Japanese support is also great, not the best but great. You pointed out franchises that are now going multiplat that used to be exclusive, but I think most of the sales will still remain Nintendo. Ace Attorney for example had more sales on Switch than PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Sonic games do better on Nintendo systems also. There are going to be games that just sell more on Nintendo systems than PS and Xbox and vice-versa. PS and Xbox have a hold on Sports games that even with FIFA and NBA 2K the Switch versions sell the least.

Does Nintendo get the same 3rd Party support as PS or Xbox, or even close? No, but with Nintendo systems what has been consistent is even with decent 3rd party support Nintendo's titles always sell the most. For PS and Xbox people buy those systems for 3rd party games, whereas for Nintendo people buy their systems for the 1st party games. Don't believe me? Just look up the best selling games on all Nintendo systems. Most if not all are Nintendo games.

I'm not saying more (Western) 3rd party support would be unwelcomed, but I think people keep forgetting Nintendo doesn't really NEED their support to be successful.

  • +21
Kakadu18 Sogreblute (on 26 July 2021)

FIFA is actually selling better on the Switch than on Xbox.

  • +6
javi741 Kakadu18 (on 01 August 2021)

Kakadu18 source for that?

  • 0
Kakadu18 javi741 (on 01 August 2021)

Every chart on which platforms are separated. On Resetera the pal charts thread is good for this. In Spain and Switzerland for example Fifa 21 Legacy Edition charted quite often. You can also see that on Amazon best sellers. Fifa is the biggest in Europe, where Xbox is third in most countries.

  • +1
curl-6 (on 26 July 2021)

"growing" problem? Nintendo's third party support has been consistently improving for the last 4 years.

  • +17
ryuzaki57 curl-6 (on 27 July 2021)

A lot of third parties were showing more interest/engagement in Switch 2 or 3 years ago vs now. That includes Bethesda (which for obvious reasons can't be interested anymore), Ubisoft, Compile Heart, Kadokawa, BandaiNamco etc. Also I consider that the growing hardware sales should go with increased 3rd party support, which isn't happening. Switch nears 100m and its 3rd party line-up still isn't big (lots of ports again this year) compared to Xbox/PS ecosystem. That's why I think support is actually weakening.

  • -2
curl-6 ryuzaki57 (on 27 July 2021)

You seem to be thinking only of day-and-date AAA games. Ports are still games, as are AA games, and indies. This year has Switch's strongest third party lineup yet; Monster Hunter Rise/Stories 2, Bravely Default II, Crash 4, Samurai Warriors 5, No More Heroes 3, Subnautica/Below Zero, Rune Factory 5, Outer Wilds, Ghosts 'n' Goblins, Plants vs Zombies Battle for Neighborville, Apex Legends, Fall Guys, Dragonball Z Kakarot, Life is Strange True Colours, Shin Megami Tensei V, the list goes on and on.

  • +21
ryuzaki57 curl-6 (on 28 July 2021)

Ports are games, but not "support". Again, I don't say AA games aren't coming. I just observe that the big ones are nearly all missing and that smaller firms start doubting. It's about prospective, not just what happens right now.

  • -6
curl-6 ryuzaki57 (on 28 July 2021)

They are still support though; there is more to gaming than just day-and-date AAA blockbusters.
Switch has proven it can succeed with mostly AA games, ports, and indies, and the amount of those it's getting has increased every year of its life.
The decline you try to paint simply does not exist.

  • +4
Mr.GameCrazy ryuzaki57 (on 28 July 2021)

How are ports not support?

  • +3
Leynos Mr.GameCrazy (on 29 July 2021)

Because goalposts are mobile

  • +3
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Greenfox (on 26 July 2021)

I don't exactly see Switch as having a problem with 3rd parties. I think this opinion, which has been repeated a lot over the last 4 years, is due to a misreading of the brand, especially by those who don't usually consume it.

While the PS and Xbox brands were associated with "playing video games", the Switch brand is associated with "playing NINTENDO video games". There are people who can buy a PS4 or an Xbox One without buying a single exclusive from the companies. On Switch, this would be a big rara avis. Whoever buys a Switch, it's mainly to play Nintendo games.

For this reason, if we value the amount of 3rd parties on Switch, we can't do it like with PS and Xbox by simply counting the amount. A Nintendo console has good 3rd party support if it receives those games that we associate with the brand. Nintendo won't mind if Switch doesn't get GTA VI. Nor Elden Ring. Or Lost Judgment. Or Avatar. Nor the vast majority of games in the article. It won't lose big sales because of these shortcomings. What Nintendo cares about is having Monster Hunter Rise, SMT V, Platinum games, NMH III, TWEWY. To have the long list of games that we all expect to see on a Nintendo console, because, even if they don't own them, they are very attached to their image, or share a style with their audience. And in this respect, Switch has excelled, especially this 2021.

Of the games in the article, the only ones that really hurt Switch by their lack are Tales of Arise, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, and Kimetsu no Yaiba, in my humble opinion. The rest are games that, if they arrive, will be welcome, but their absence/precence won't change the console's sales. You simply cannot ascribe PS4's brand reading, based on quantity, to a brand where its basis is corporate identity.

  • +17
Darwinianevolution (on 26 July 2021)

The Switch's 3rd party situation is possibly the most interesting one of all modern consoles. This is a console that is going to reach 100m units sold this year, and yet the big 3rd party publishers are quite reticent to try and port some of their biggest titles. Nintendo doesn't need 3rd parties as much as the others, sure, but why would they ignore the biggest console of this generation thus far? Even power is not really an excuse, you'd think most publishers would have taken the chance to port all of their big PS360 games to the Switch, and yet that's not the case for the most part. This is especially notable for the big western publishers: Activision made a single CoD game for the Vita, but they didn't even bother anything of the sort for the Switch. EA keeps putting as little effort as possible on the Switch, with their "legacy" editions literally being the same game over and over. T2 never ported GTA V to the Switch even though the game is still selling like hotcakes.

Nevertheless, the Switch's innertia is probably going to keep it going. Nintendo won't let the momentum abruptly end like with the Wii, they will keep the sales going through 1st party and some well chosen 3rd party efforts. If the lack of the big multiplats hasn't stopped the console by now, it's not really going to be a big problem in the future.

  • +14
S.Peelman (on 27 July 2021)

First of all you must ask yourself whether or not this ‘third party problem’, is actually a problem. It certainly isn’t ‘new’. Second, I’m sorry, but this kind of reads like this piece only came about because a certain ‘OLED’ was announced instead of a ‘PRO’. Maybe it’s the timing.

  • +12
Bofferbrauer2 (on 26 July 2021)

I can't agree with your article.

While it's true that the Switch is behind in raw graphical power by a lot, it doesn't need to be anywhere near as powerful as the other two consoles on the market as it serves a different market.

Another thing to note is that if you remove raytracing and the high-end particle and illumination effects from the AAA games, you end up with something that is very much in reach for the Switch to process. Of course it doesn't look nearly as good as it does on XS/PS5, but considering that you can play them on the go, do they really have to?

  • +12
Greenfox Bofferbrauer2 (on 26 July 2021)

Some power statements seem to me questionable, such as using the resolutions of the portable mode instead of the dock mode when compares them with the PS4, or assuring that games like Doom Eternal or The Outer Worlds sold badly because of the console, and not because of the delay of their launch in respect to the PS and Xbox version, as well as the bad porting work of the second one.

  • +4
Bofferbrauer2 Greenfox (on 27 July 2021)

Same for me. Especially he Doom Ethernal sales sounded like an ass pull since the developers themselves are happy with the sales, and if it goes anywhere like with it's predecessor, then sales will go on and on and on and slowly make up for the weak initial sales by selling over time.

Also, the dig that phones steal handheld sales. I thought that myth got killed already, but apparently not...

  • +9
Greenfox Bofferbrauer2 (on 27 July 2021)

Absolutely, the same goes for CD projeckt, Platinum Games, Bethesda, Capcom, Square Enix, etc. Many developers have positively received sales on Switch.

Also, I don't understand how re-releasing games from years ago, like Fatal Frame, Ace Attorney, or Rune Factory 4, on other platforms, is bad for Switch. Even more so when Rune Factory 5 is coming out exclusively for Switch. Porting past exclusives to other platforms has always been done, inside and outside Nintendo (Ori, Horizon Zero Dawn, P4, Octopath Traveler, etc). It's a very healthy and pro-consumer practice, which hopefully will never be lost.

  • +9
Slownenberg (on 26 July 2021)

I don't see the point of this article. Questioning what happens to a system that hits saturation point, well, every system goes through this. Switch will be well over 100 million units sold when it starts nearing that point. It is and will continue to smash software sales as well. Plus Nintendo has been weaker on third party games since the N64, so it's not like this is a new thing. Switch has two Pokemon games coming out in the next 6 months, Splatoon 3 next year, BotW2 next year, and a load of other stuff. And they're gonna have another nearly 30 million hardware sales year this year, to make two in a row - the hottest thing in video game history outside of the DS. I don't get why this article is talking about the Switch like it has some sort of major problem with games. Yes, it will continue to not get most of the major AAA third party games, as has for the most part been the case for 25 years now. Switch is on fire and trouncing everything in sight.

  • +10
Veknoid_Outcast (on 26 July 2021)

This is a very thought-provoking article. I appreciate the time, energy, and research that went into it.

While I disagree with a lot of your conclusions, I do see where you're coming from. This isn't unlike the Wii HD argument from the tail end of the seventh gen. In fact, as early as 2008, Michael Pachter argued Nintendo needed an HD upgrade to secure "hardcore" games from third-party developers. "Businesswise, they can’t have people saying that their machine is a toy for my mom," he said at the time.

This article seems to be coming from the same place: Sony and Microsoft make their living from AAA third-party games and "core" gaming, so Nintendo's long-term success depends on the same thing. It's a hard sell for me. Now, I agree with your points on "hardcore" enthusiasts being more brand loyal and more reliable when a new generation hits. I think you could make a case that Sony and Microsoft platforms have a higher floor than Nintendo systems because of just that. However, I'd argue Nintendo platforms have a far greater CEILING, because they often capture the imaginations of consumers who live far outside the traditional gaming bubble. 

I also agree with you that Nintendo is rather quickly falling behind in the technological arms race, while the new Sony and Microsoft systems pick up steam. The scraps Switch DOES get from big western third parties will probably dry up as development switches to P55 and XSX in earnest. But is that a "problem"? I'm not so sure. As long as Nintendo makes accessible, affordable hardware and attractive software -- two things it has complete control over -- it should succeed, even without the third-party AAA blockbusters that underpin the success of rival consoles.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Again, thanks for sharing this provocative article. I appreciate your passion for the topic and the time you spent crafting these arguments, even if they run counter to my own.

  • +10
ryuzaki57 Veknoid_Outcast (on 28 July 2021)

Indeed a "problem" is always a matter of point of view. Most Switch owners won't see that as a problem at all. But if Nintendo struggles in the next generation like they did with the WiiU, they will have created their problems themselves. Also, diehard fans might be disheartened if the brand falls too much behind the competition in terms of library. Morale is very important.

  • -5
Valdney (on 26 July 2021)

Project Triangle is an Indie Like game?
Ok. You just failed to grasp Switch’s appeal.

  • +6
Leynos Valdney (on 27 July 2021)

Exactly. Octopath,TS and Bravely Default II are well-made games that appeal to those fans wanting Square to make games as they did in the 90s. Those games are for those people. Portable systems are perfect for RPGs. It doesn't feel like an indie game. These may not have budgets as high as FFVIIR but use the same engine with UE4. They are still modern games with a good budget that feel both modern and retro. Something the Switch is deep in for many genres. Mecha games. Shmups. RPGs. Platformers. Puzzle games. Fighting games etc.

  • +12
Agente42 (on 26 July 2021)

Your text has major problems. Omission, lack of market analysis. You forget Monster Hunter Rise has only three months sales vs three platform with years sales, asian domination, and dozens of third-party success on the platform. When you compare, you take only make your right, UK market. The worst Nintendo market. . And the solution was a Switch HD, because of thirds, the same thirds don´t invest a dime in the same platform?

  • +6
ryuzaki57 Agente42 (on 27 July 2021)

I take the UK market because the data is very precise. I also cited Famitsu or worlwide figures to describe some successes. As for the "dozens of 3rd party successes", I don't remember reading that many Switch success stories from publishers. Apart from Ryza and Sakuna, most figures include all platforms and we don't know how far the Switch contributes.

  • -4
SKMBlake ryuzaki57 (on 27 July 2021)

Well next time you can write an article about Xbox's lack of success based on the "very precise" Famitsu sales.

  • +10
Kakadu18 ryuzaki57 (on 27 July 2021)

Saga Frontier sold best on Switch, Disgaea 5 Complete's Switch sales saved the franchise, Descenders Switch launch was the biggest it's publishers ever had even though it was a late port.
Just Dance seems to be selling by far the best on Switch going by all the data we have. Mario + Rabbids had over 7.5 million players and is getting a sequel because of this. Momotaro Dentetsu on the Switch is by far Konami's best selling game in Japan ever. MHR. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and Okami HD sold by far the best on the Switch according to the Capcom leak. SoS: Friends of Mineral Town was XSEED's fastest game to reach 100k in NA on a single platform. SoS: Pioneers of Olive Town is XSEED's fastest selling game ever in NA period and sold over 700k worldwide. While we're at XSEED, Rune Factory 4 Special sold over 150k in NA, which for them was a huge success. Minecraft sales on Switch are extremely good, as you can see from all the sales charts it's on. Octopath Traveler as a new IP managed to sell exceptionally on the Switch so that SE decided to make Project Triangle Strategy. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon sold best on Switch. Thief Simulator, Enter the Gungeon, Taiko No Tatsujin and Fitness Boxing sold over 1mil on Switch. Fitness Boxing 2 sold over 700k on Switch. Puyo Puyo Tetris 1 and 2 sold the best on Switch. Among Us sold 3.2mil in it's launch month December 2020 alone. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is Koei Tecmo's best selling game ever. Death Squared sold over 250k on the Switch, it practically saved the publisher. Hollow Knight sold over 250k in it's first two weeks on the Switch. I could go on.

  • +13
ryuzaki57 Kakadu18 (on 28 July 2021)

Your list is interesting. Notice that I acknoweldged and praised successes like SoS, Hollow Knight or Momotaru Dentetsu. Taiko, Just Dance and Fitness go in the same category of family friendly games, which I mentioned. As for Disgaea, D5C sold well, but what happened to D1 Complete and D6. I don't remember reading big figures. Regarding Hyrule Warriors and Mario+Rabbids, I don't consider those one as third party games, since the IP is owned by Nintendo, and the games are published by Nintendo overseas.

  • 0
Agente42 Agente42 (on 27 July 2021)

I agree that Nintendo could have transition issues in two or three years. It's the first time we've seen a hybrid system. We don't have metrics to measure. The last cycle has started, it's true, so when will it fall? Where is the expandable consumer game? If Nintendo follows the lead of the WiiU and Gamecube, the public will leave, it's true if Nintendo cuts down on the game's releases as well. It's also true that nintendo has a tough road to travel when it comes to outsourcing.

  • -1
heavenmercenary01 (on 27 July 2021)

Did you just shit on 2D metroid games? I stopped reading from that point (which is far enough) cauz you lost all kind of credibility at that precise sentence.

  • +5
SvenTheTurkey (on 28 July 2021)

If more companies put more effort into switch ports, the situation would get better.

Late ports like doom eternal sell as expected. People like me skip the game entirely (which I might have bought it even after the delay if it had a physical release). Everyone else bought it on another platform to play it sooner.

I don't know the mk11 total sales, but it was a great version at launch. That's what there needs to be more of.

  • +1
mutantsushi (on 26 July 2021)

I think the Wii comparison is pretty spot on. There isn't any immediate problem from perspective of Nintendo's bottom line, which is basically why we saw the OLED model with no performance boost, they are planning on milking it out to the bloody end with no disruption of single platform. But what happens when it does end? Can they draw the same audience over to the next gen? Nothing about the schtick will be new then, and it looks like there will be competition from Valve. Core Nintendo loyalists who prioritize Nintendo games above all weren't enough to save Wii U, or even achieve a mediocre but acceptable result.

  • 0
Greenfox mutantsushi (on 27 July 2021)

In fact, the Switch OLED is not at all a copy of the Wii strategy, quite the opposite, it is a copy of the DS and 3DS. With the home consoles they almost never created new models, while the 3DS family and the Switch family are almost identical:

Regular 3DS - Regular Switch
2DS - Switch Lite
3DS XL - Switch OLED
New 3DS - Upcoming Switch Pro
New 2DS - Upcoming Switch Pro Lite

And, as far as I know, Nintendo has never sold poorly in the portable market. This strategy has always worked best for them.

  • +12
AFattyGamer (on 26 July 2021)
  • -26
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