Unprecedented lip service.
When the Switch was finally revealed back in October, Nintendo showed off an encouraging list of companies that were working on games for the system. And at their event held two weeks ago, Nintendo asserted that there were 80 games in the works for the Switch- but unfortunately, they failed to actually show proof of that support.
While it is clear that the Switch will get a lot of support from Nintendo themselves, as well as from indie developers, and Japanese companies, the situation with western third party support seems to be dire. EA seems to be supporting the Switch, but only with one singular FIFA game. Activision is supporting the Switch, but only with Skylanders. Ubisoft are supporting the Switch, but with late ports, and nothing meaningful. Does this mean that third parties may not be interested in supporting the new system?
Words of comfort on this come from a surprising source- EA’s Patrick Söderlund, of all people, has pointed out that Nintendo involved western third parties like EA and Activision with the Switch from very early on in the system’s conception, while also providing a surreptitious explanation for why EA themselves may be hesitant to support the system fully just yet.
“I only spoke about FIFA today, but our company’s structure lets us release all sorts of games for every platform, so we’ll go wherever the gamers go,”Söderlund said to Famitsu in an interview. “I think Nintendo Switch will put Nintendo at the forefront of the game industry once again. Their approach is quite different from anything they’ve done in the past – they’ve listened to EA, Activision, and other companies since the beginning of the Switch’s development, so we’ve been involved throughout the whole process. They teamed up with us because they wanted to guarantee the console would be successful. Doing business with Nintendo is very important for us… We’d like to bring more and more games over for everyone.”
So it sounds like western third parties were brought on board with the Switch earlier- that certainly explains why we saw so many of them on the slide listing third party support for the system. At the same time, if EA’s words and stance are anything to go by, a lot of them may simply be slightly cautious, waiting to see how the Switch plays out before committing to it fully. Given how badly the Wii U flopped, one can hardly blame them for being wary.