Drake, the world’s teenagers and even their dogs appear to be playing Fortnite. The Switch is also wildly popular. Yet never the two will meet. Let’s look at why and what this means for the chances for other games to get to the Switch.
The Switch has proved itself to be a success. But it isn’t a powerhouse and outside of first party what’s coming to the console is largely ports of older games (indies aside). The issue is one of horse power.
Nintendo has rarely led the charge when it comes to computing power, form factor alone truncates power draw whilst the company’s (sensible) requirements that no piece of inventory is a loss leader means it never was going to be either.
The elephant in the room is that Fortnite (and PUBG) are now on mobile, apparently ruining the education of several students. The Switch does use Android, but Google’s ubiquitous architecture is not the operating system.
Whilst the eShop is full of mobile ports, the Switch is not a phone/tablet. Architecturally it is based on 3DS and custom coding. It is far easier to bring games to the Switch than previous Nintendo consoles but Epic would still have to commit resources to developing a version of this game.
The problem is that there isn’t a business case for Epic to bring Fortnite to the Switch.
Money, Money, Money
Fortnite is purchasable in the form of the founders pack. But copy sale isn’t Epic’s business model. Instead it’s Free-To-Play, making it accessible to all, but scaring of CliffyB and several over Epic alumni.
Nintendo’s tight control on gamer experience and family-safe content has meant Free-To-Play income models aren’t welcome. Or at least on its own consoles, its less worried about its experiences outside of its hardware give the in-app purchasing in Pokemon Go and the Mario game.
Free-To-Play does make it to the Switch, albeit in a certain format. Rocket League and Payday 2 are both freemium titles and the latter even uses the much hated loot box system.
But before they made it to the Switch, this functionality was exorcised and instead what we got was best-of collections with all previous additional content folded on disc. With these games past peak users, sale on the Switch gave publishers the chance to get more cash.
Fortnite isn’t at this stage, in fact it’s booming. Why would Epic offer a full fat collection when its income stream is increasing. Maybe one day, but not yet.
The games hardly alone. Overwatch and GTA5 are titles, who would no doubt be popular on the Switch. However the in-game purchases they use, which are largely unobtrusive, still wouldn’t swing on Switch whilst remaining a crucial part of their revenue mix.
With the current state of game financing, Triple-A on the Switch is going to have to be single player if it comes from third party publishers.
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