The Nintendo Switch has changed public perception across the board. Though many were quietly hopeful that Nintendo's console would represent a change of pace for the legendary company following the Wii U's poor performance, few were expecting it to be as well-received as it has been.
With two Game of the Year contenders under its belt in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, along with a slew of hugely popular releases from Splatoon 2 through to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the Switch has exceeded expectations and continues to surprise heading into the new year. But while it's performing well now, looking back prior to its launch and it's clear to see that many publishers and developers didn't have a whole lot of faith in Nintendo's portable / home console hybrid.
With that being said, let's take a look at what those in the gaming industry thought about the Switch prior to its launch, and how those perceptions changed after it became apparent that the console was going to be a runaway success.
Capcom expressed reluctance with the Nintendo Switch ahead of the console's launch, with them having initially appeared skeptical at how well their games would perform when compared to their PS4 and Xbox One releases. "We are currently carrying out research with regards to multiplatform implementation of software for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on to the Nintendo Switch," a Capcom spokesperson said in an investor Q&A in 2016 (via Videogamer). "However, we do feel that there are differences in the desired direction and the play-style of the Nintendo Switch and those of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One."
It seems that only recently has the company realized that it dropped the ball with the Switch, with the publisher posting a mammoth 248.4 % year-on-year increase for last quarter that was predominantly the result of Monster Hunter XX and Ultra Street Fighter II The Final Challengers, two Switch games. The high-profile Marvel vs Capcom Infinite was mentioned, though its underwhelming sales caused it to be a footnote on its earning postings.
Capcom has now argued that their lack of new releases for the Switch to be expected. "A company spokeswoman said releasing older games on a new console is normal procedure for third-party software developers because there isn’t enough time to make new games for a console within a year of its launch," an October report from Nintendo Everything reads. According to Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki, Capcom is now "starting to prepare" multiple Switch-version titles.
Koei Tecmo has been overwhelmed by their success on the Nintendo Switch, with company president Keiko Erikawa saying she is "extremely happy" with their performance on the platform and that the Switch business is an "extremely long tail one" in a call to investors.
Additionally, its co-founder and CEO Yoichi Erikawa said: “We bet big on the Switch as a game changer so we began making games before the Switch’s launch, but many software companies showed reluctance in releasing Switch games before they witnessed the current success.”
Koei Tecmo's gamble on the Switch has paid off, and they remain one of very few companies to have supported the Switch since the console's launch. With more Koei Tecmo games such as Attack on Titan 2 set to release on the handheld system, it seems their partnership is only going to grow stronger throughout the console's life cycle.
The Pokemon Company
Skepticism surrounding the Nintendo Switch wasn't solely limited to third-party companies, with Nintendo's veteran collaborator and first-party studio The Pokemon Company also raising a few eyebrows prior to the console's launch. According to The Pokemon Company's CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, he reached out to Nintendo to express concern over the future of the system.
“I told Nintendo that Switch wouldn’t be a success before it went on sale because I thought that in the age of the smartphone no one would carry around a game console,” Ishihara told Bloomberg in a video interview.
“It’s obvious I was wrong. I came to realize the key to a successful game is quite simple: software with absolute quality leads sales of hardware. Playing style can be flexible if the software is attractive enough.”
However, Ishihara was still cautious about the future of the Switch. “Currently, it’s popular among the early adopters and there needs to be one more step to attract a wider audience,” he added. “I see more potential in Switch, but one shouldn’t overestimate its potential.”
The Pokemon Company are currently working on a Pokemon RPG for the console, though there are few available details regarding the mysterious project.
Unlike Capcom, Bandai Namco have been more forthright about dropping the ball with the Nintendo Switch. This week company president Mitsuaki Taguchi revealed that they would be ramping up their resources for Switch development, with them aiming to start releasing more Switch games starting next April.
“We have put out three games on the Switch so far and all of them are doing well,” Taguchi said (via Gematsu.) “It’s a shame, but we didn’t think the Switch [would] be accept this fast.”
Namco is now working on three Switch-exclusive titles that will release between spring and summer 2018.
EA is still reluctant to dedicate more resources to the Switch, with the publisher's target audience still mainly existing on the PS4, Xbox One and PC. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, EA's finance chief Blake Jorgensen said that the company would be waiting until the Switch had been on the market for a full year in order to "fully understand what the demand is."
It's difficult to know whether or not FIFA 18's release on the Switch was successful for EA, with it only accounting for 1% of its overall sales in the UK and specific data not being released for its Switch version elsewhere. Although sports and online-focused games remain the majority of EA's output, there are still plenty games in its library that Switch owners would likely want to see released on the console. Whether EA believes it will be advantageous to do so in the future remains to be seen.
Konami was responsible for one of the most disappointing Switch launch games in the form of Super Bomberman R, and while the company chose not to release Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 on the platform, they haven't written off the console just because one of their games didn't perform so well on the system.
In an interview with Miketendo64, Konami Europe's Brand Manager Richard Jones said: "All I can say is that there is lots of internal discussions going on within Konami regarding what games we can bring to the Nintendo Switch, other than Bomberman, a game which we are well aware of its heritage and how loved it and Castlevania is."
"So much so that Castlevania is getting is getting its own show on Netflix and because of that, we’re hearing a lot of desires from our fans for a new Castlevania series," he added. "So we do know there is a demand for a new game, but right now nothing is set in stone as the discussions are still on going."
Square Enix is bringing Project Octopath Traveler to the Switch, though it seems that the power of the console is holding its games back from being released on it. Speaking to us in an exclusive interview, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata asked GameRevolution's Heath Hindman: "Hey did you read this story online that says I'm bringing Final Fantasy XV to Switch, using Unreal Engine?" When Heath asked Tabata if Final Fantasy XV could run on the Switch, Tabata replied simply: "No, it can't."
Bethesda have been one of the most surprising supporters of the Nintendo Switch, though they only became aware that there was an audience for their games on the console following the success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
“We haven’t done anything on a Nintendo platform in forever,“ Bethesda's VP of marketing and communication Pete Hines told VentureBeat. ”Breath of the Wild being the runaway colossal hit that it is, there’s certainly some belief like, “Hey, if you like open-world RPGs where you can explore and do what you want, Skyrim might be a good fit for you.”
Bethesda has Doom, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and the aforementioned Skyrim each releasing on the Switch, though they're not stopping there. "We’ve been in constant conversation with [Nintendo],” Hines continued, “and not just about the two games we have now, but about our whole approach to the platform going forward – what we can do, best practices, what things are a good fit, what they’re excited about in what we’re doing.
"We’re obviously excited about these two games, but it’s not as if we’re going to just do these two games and that’s it. We want this to be the start of a relationship that we build with Nintendo and Nintendo fans.”
It seems that Bethesda aren't the only developers looking at the Switch and seeing dollar signs.