The Nintendo Switch represents an interesting question for an Editor like myself. It’s not a new question – Nintendo’s hand-held consoles have always kind of been a potential new area to look at for a website that focuses on ‘mobile’ gaming, even though I’d argue that ‘mobile’ has a more narrow definition than ‘handheld’. Still, it’s ‘close enough’ territory and a place where we could try to grow our audience if we felt the need.
In the past, we’ve been saved from having to address with this issue because the 3DS and the handhelds before it pretty much didn’t cater to the same people we did. Every now and then you’d get one decent game but generally what I’d consider ‘serious’ strategy games largely didn’t appear on the 3DS. Not enough to warrant dedicated coverage anyway.
When the Nintendo Switch release in 2017 I still largely overlooked it on the same grounds as before (and also because it was being billed as a home console as much as a ‘handheld’ console), but in the past couple of years there’s been a steady trickle of games porting themselves over that you wouldn’t have seen before on the handhelds of old. Civilization 6, Bad North… even board games like Pandemic are making the crossover. We’ve been expecting a mobile port of Bad North since it was announced, it’s worth pointing out. In general I’m noticing a trend where Switch ports are now more likely than a mobile port.
It’s possible that the Switch, with it’s quasi-handheld status, is a more attractive proposition than even an iOS port. There’s a much narrower hardware set, and despite the wonders of modern tablet and phone technically the Switch is a more bespoke gaming machine, so I imagine development is easier. It’s a closed ecosystem like iOS, but it’s one where anyone who owns a switch is happy shelling out premium money for a copy of their chosen game. As a new game Fire Emblem: Three Houses is selling for £40-£50. Would an iOS user pay that if it suddenly turned up on iOS?
Fairer examples would be to look at games like Civilization 6 and Bad North. 2K have stuck to their guns with regards pricing of Civ 6 on iOS, which is to their credit – I wonder how many people have bought the game at that price on Switch vs. iOS. Bad North is available $14.99 as a digital download from the Switch. It’s not unheard of for mobile games to cost this much but if Bad North’s mobile version ever does turn up it’ll be interesting to see what its price-point will be. Again, I can’t help but wonder at the different demographic attitudes towards pricing.
Our friends at Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer have long embraced consistent Switch coverage, and I hope it’s served them well. I’m not against the concept myself, but I know it’d stretch our resources and a part of me still sees the value in being a website wholly dedicated to iOS and Android games. But I think we might start paying closer attention to the Switch.
Don’t expect any big changes overnight – for now I’ll leave the heavy lifting to our sister website Strategy Gamer. Everyone’s been talking about the new Fire Emblem lately, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the calibre of strategy games available on the Switch until I had one of my writers put together a list for us. Some, like Valkyria Chronicles 4, is probably a bit beyond the specs of your average tablet or phone, but there’s still plenty on this list that we also have on mobile (or we were expecting but hasn’t turned up yet.) Maybe we’ll experiment with some one-off features here on PT, but we’ve got our hands full keeping top of the mobile-first release schedule to worry about reviews.
What are your thoughts on the Switch, as a console on its own and as a potential rival for iOS/Android gaming?