Takeaways and Speculation from Nintendo Switch’s 3rd Party Slide

In their reveal of the Switch, Nintendo has done a lot right in terms of marketing, but even so, there are a lot of questions surrounding their new hybrid console– the biggest of which are specs and battery life. But the third of those is a question of whether Nintendo can rally third party support in order to provide the system a steady stream of quality software to satiate gamers in the gaps between their own game releases­, which is a problem that Nintendo systems have had for the past two decades.

The same day as the reveal, Nintendo offered an excellent attempt at trying to qualm such fears by releasing an image showcasing a boatload of publishing and development partners currently working on the system. The list blew the Wii U and 3DS’s similar lists out of the water, and showcased several developers that no one would have expected to see working on a Nintendo console.

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Image Courtesy of Nintendo

However, the image wasn’t an end-all argument towards the Switch’s third party support. Many consumers had flashbacks towards Electronic Arts’s promise to support the Wii U, and their subsequent failure to do so outside of the first year. So the question now is: What does this list of developers mean, and can we expect them to support the Switch moving forward?

It’s a complicated question, and one that differs depending on the developer. But it is also one worth exploring– after all, we know most if not all games being developed by many of these publishers from now through this spring, and many are fairly easy to read. With that in mind, let’s go through each of these developers and take an educated guess as to what we can expect to see on the Nintendo Switch from third parties.

Studios Where Games Are Almost a Guarantee 

While there are fears that Developers listed may end up not actually producing any games for the system, there’s reason to believe, if not assume, that many of them will. After all, a large number of the studios listed are those with a long history of developing for Nintendo hardware through thick and thin. Some are even larger publishers that have found success with several key franchises which have remained relatively exclusive to Nintendo hardware.

ATLUS CO., LTD., well known for their JRPGs, will likely produce more games in their Shin Megami Tensei series for Switch. In the past 5 years, they’ve released 7 SMT titles on Nintendo systems– 6 of which were for the 3DS, and the majority of games in the franchise were released on Nintendo hardware dating back to 1987.

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc., who have a wide variety of different IP under their control, will at the very least be involved in a Nintendo Switch port of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, two of the best selling games on either system. After which, they could consider porting over Pokkén Tournament, which released to mild success on the Wii U­­– at one point outselling CAPCOM’s flagship title Street Fighter V.

Speaking of CAPCOM, while that same Street Fighter title isn’t likely to grace the system due to a development partnership with Sony, another one of the publisher’s most profitable franchises seems almost a guarantee to release on the system. Monster Hunter is a powerhouse in Japan, and while the series began with a string of releases on PlayStation hardware, since 2011, the series has found itself a very successful home on the Nintendo 3DS. Outside of a magical return of the Blue Bomber, or a new Ace Attorney title, there isn’t all that much to be expected from CAPCOM in the first year or two of the Nintendo Switch’s life cycle.

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Image Courtesy of CAPCOM

One of the more exciting names on the list was GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC., which, for those uninitiated, is the studio run by Suda51– the creator of Killer7, Lollipop Chainsaw, Killer is Dead, and for those more familiar with Nintendo titles, the No More Heroes games on Wii. Guessing exactly what they’ll make is hard to track– while there are 2 critically acclaimed No More Heroes tltes, sequilizing isn’t something the studio does often. There is, of course, a chance that a third title in the franchise releases on Nintendo Switch, but a whole new and wacky title could debut on the system. In either case, a game from GRASSHOPPER for Switch seems very likely to come to fruition.

Gungho Online Entertainemnt, Inc.’s appearance on the list isn’t much of a surprise, but it is quite pleasant. The mobile developer did find success with thie Puzzle & Dragons series on 3DS, so it would come as no surprise if they released a new title in that franchise on the flexible Switch.

INTI CREATOES CO., LTD., which develops and publishes games all over the place, is known for their smaller, but well received eshop titles like Azure Striker Gunvolt, and have a hand in helping develop a lot of other indie projects like Shantae, Mighty No. 9, and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. While none of those games have had even a rumor of release on Switch, they are released or planned on all other consoles, so it should come as no surprise if those titles are ported over or future titles come to Switch. The last of those titles, the Castlevania spiritual successor, Bloodstained, seems even more likely when you see 505 Games also on the list, who have a hand in that title’s development.

There’s been quite a bit of collaboration between KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD. and Nintendo in the last few years. Nintendo owns the rights to all future Fatal Frame series, which Nintendo could turn to add mature titles to the Switch’s library (despite the series’s poor sales), and the two collaborated to create Hyrule Warriors on both Wii U and 3DS. The success of the latter titles could give Nintendo incentive to collaborate for future Warriors titles using Nintendo IP. Off the top of my head, Mario, Kid Icarus, and especially Fire Emblem could all work fairly well in that mold. It’s hard to tell how many or how often KOEI TECMO would make games for the Switch, but there’s no doubt they’ll offer some sort of third party support.

Level 5 has an exceedingly long and successful history of developing for Nintendo platforms– headlined by their Professor Layton series, and while the company has said that they don’t necessarily have anything lined up for the launch of the system, they do intend to develop games for Nintendo Switch eventually.

Marvelous Inc. is fairly easy to read, as they’ve had a long line of successful games in the Story of Seasons franchise (formerly Harvest Moon) and will likely continue that by releasing further titles on Switch in either that series or the JRPG spin-off Rune Factory.

Platinum Games comes as no surprise on this list, after Nintendo funded a sequel to the niche title Bayonetta– helping them create a sequel for Wii U that was mildly successful commercially and heavily lauded by critics. While their more recent collaboration with Nintendo on Star Fox Zero was a failure in almost every sense of the word, between The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros., Platinum Games has built up a relationship with Nintendo that will likely see new titles release for Nintendo Switch.

SEGA Games Co., Ltd. has already announced that the yet-to-be-named Sonic the Hedgehog 2017 title will be released on Nintendo Switch, and there’s little reason to doubt that by the end of next year, we won’t see a Mario & Sonic at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics for the system. However, as far as SEGA is concerned, those are the only two guarantees. There’s a lot of interesting IP SEGA could pull out, but other than Sonic and the occasional Rhythm Theif, most are either well connected to a competitor’s system or haven’t had a new iteration this decade.

Spike Chunsoft is known for quite a number of visual novel-like titles on both Nintendo and Sony handhelds, though the most likely titles to show up on Nintendo consoles are those of the Mystery Dungeon series. In particular, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has had a constant presence on Nintendo handhelds since the DS era, and another title is likely to show up on Switch sooner or later. Otherwise, the last of the Zero Escape trilogy released on 3DS this year, so it’s possible the team that developed those games continues it or creates a new IP for Switch.

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Image Courtesy of Spike Chunsoft

Silicon Studio might not be a name you immediately think about, since their Bravely Default series is better known by its Japanese publisher in Square Enix. This privately held developer has developed for a number of systems over the years, but none have been as successful as Bravely Default and its sequel Bravely Second: End Layer for the 3DS, which Nintendo actually published outside of Japan. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see them continue supporting Nintendo hardware– although there’s no telling whether they will develop Bravely Third or a new IP for a new system.

Speaking of Square Enix, they were the first developers to announce that they were developing games for Nintendo Switch. Specifically, Dragon Quest X and Dragon Quest XI. While it’s hard to tell whether they’ll decide to port games from PS4 and XBO to Switch like Kingdom Hearts III or Final Fantasy VII Remake (although we can pretty much exclude any games from Eidos or Crystal Dynamics), one would assume that there is certainly room for the JRPG heavy weight to offer up some interesting titles to the fledgeling system.

For example, take Square Enix-led Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd., who recently released I am Setsuna, a JRPG reminiscent of classics like Chrono Trigger. They’re also listed on Nintendo’s third party slide, meaning we’re very likely to get a port of I am Setsuna or the studio’s next title.

I’ll get into WB Games shortly, but one of their most successful subsidiaries, TT Games, who make any and all LEGO games that could come to mind, are very likely to make games for Switch. Generally, TT Games releases LEGO titles on every available platform, but have found so much success with Nintendo that LEGO City: Undercover was an early exclusive title for the Wii U, with a 3DS version following shortly after. It would be no surprise to see such trends continue on Nintendo’s new console.

Caution from the Largest Publishers

Like I’ve mentioned previously, third parties have had a rough go of it on Nintendo home consoles, whether it be to technical limitations from the hardware itself or an inability to sell third party titles on a console most people bought for Nintendo titles. The latter was an issue for even the Nintendo Wii, which had a ridiculous install base.

And after the poor sales of the Wii U exacerbated those concerns, it’s very likely that the largest publishers would approach developing titles for the system with caution. I’d expect that any titles they do release for Switch will either attempt to capitalize on what they perceive to be Nintendo’s audience or will try to find an untapped niche in the console library– at least until an install base forms around the console, giving publishers more confidence in the system.

What this means is that what you have seen work from these publishers on Nitnendo consoles, or whatever franchises they own that targets a younger demographic are the most likely series to show up on the system. Skylanders from Activision Publishing, Inc., a Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warefare title from Electronic Arts, the LEGO titles from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Dragon Quest from Square Enix.

Now there obviously a few exceptions to this idea, and two of them were shown during the Switch’s reveal trailer. Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.’s NBA 2K17. For the prior, despite the game being one of their most proven and well received titles, is also Bethesda’s first foray into putting one of their largest franchises onto a Nintendo console. As for the latter, the last time a NBA 2K game released on a Nintendo console was at the Wii U’s release. What these games appear to be doing is testing the waters. If they can sell on the Nintendo Switch, both devs are likely to continue supporting it.

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Image Courtesy of Nintendo

It is, of course, possible that several other big developers follow this approach, whether it be Activision with Call of Duty or Electronic Arts with FIFA or Madden. There’s room for more titles, but a cautious approach wouldn’t suggest that any of the listed large publishers put out too many games for Switch at first.

Except when it comes to Ubisoft. The French publisher has expressed how they like to experiment with new console releases, and with Just Dance 2017 already confirmed and Beyond Good & Evil 2 rumored time and time again to be for Switch, it seems they’re already planning to put out support for the system at the beginning as they did with the Wii and the Wii U. If they make an effort to support the system with something else new like ZombiU or Red Steel were for their respective systems, there’s a good chance that we’ll see Ubisoft produce 3 or more games for the Nintendo Switch in the first year or two of release.

Possible Support from Vita Developers

Surprised by the secion header? Maybe not. The Switch bares a lot of similarities in design to the PlayStation Vita, but could have the software support of Nintendo’s handheld line.

But what made this link more interesting is the inclusion of Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.– a developer with a long history of developing software for both PlayStation home and mobile consoles. While they’ve developed titles for Nintendo DS, any 3DS titles but one at the beginning of the handheld’s lifecycle were only published by NIS and developed by other studios (usually Atlus).

If the Nintendo Switch starts eating up Vita developers and is able to sell to the Japanese market in the same way, there’s a great chance that other developers will move their IP, normally reserved for the Vita, over to Nintendo’s hybrid. Perhaps we’ll end up seeing titles like Persona 4 Golden from Atlus or Danganronpa from Spike Chunsoft on the Nintendo Switch.

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Image Courtesy of Atlus

Developers Making Games with Nintendo IPs

Some developers on Nintendo’s list just came off as strange. Companies like Arc System Works, Codemansters, and FromSoftware are not regular developers on Nintendo hardware. Well that’s not exactly true. Codemasters has a history of releasing titles in their F1 series on Nintendo consoles, but mostly the handhelds and only once in the last 5 years. They even cancelled a Dirt title on Wii U early in the system’s life cycle.

So it’s possible that these developers are just looking over the system and considering putting their series out on the system: Arc System Works has the Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and Persona 4: Arena titles, Codemasters has the F1 and Grid titles, and FromSoftware has their Souls titles.

However, what I’m interested in is Nintendo’s recent push to license their IPs out to other developers, and there are several reasons to consider this possibility.

At the beginning of the Wii U’s launch, Nintendo tried shopping around the F-Zero franchise to studios like Criterion, who have worked on the Need for Speed and Burnout franchises. With renewed interest in the franchise after tracks based on the franchise appeared in Mario Kart 8, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nintendo tried to find a third party development team to take on the project– after all, it worked fairly well for F-Zero GX on GameCube. Of the studios on this list, Codemasters seems like the most obvious choice for such a strategy.

Arc System Works’s relationship to this idea is not based on a history with Nintendo, rather their own success at adapting Atlus’s Persona series into a fighting game. We’ve seen recently with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE that Nintendo is willing to give out its RPG series Fire Emblem to a developer with a proven track record in a certain genre, and it would be of little surprise to me if Arc System Works ends up coming out with a fighting game featuring Fire Emblem characters. After all, with such a large cast each title, there should be an easy choice of fighters to build a roster from.

There are two developers listed that seem exceedingly likely to at least take part in developing with Nintendo IP. The first, KOEI TECO GAMES CO., LTD., developed Hyrule Warriors for Wii U and 3DS, and could try to port that title to Switch with new content. What may also be likely is attempting to make another Warriors title using a different Nintendo IP. There’s a lot of interesting and hilarious decisions they could go with, from Mario to Fire Emblem, any of which could be successful ventures.

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Image Courtesy of Koei Tecmo

 

The second, PlatinumGames Inc., worked on Star Fox Zero and was looking to use Nintendo characters when developing The Wonderful 101. While the prior game was an absolute bomb and they have found success in new IP and Bayonetta 2, it is always a possibility that they look to use a Ninetndo IP to create a game emblematic of their high octane, action games.

The one developer that would be the least likely to work with Nintendo IP, and yet the most interesting if it were the case, is FromSoftware, Inc. There are several IP that would be interesting to see FromSoftware make use of if they aren’t simply porting a Dark Souls title. The Souls titles have long been compared to The Legend of Zelda and the challenges they offer are of the kind not seen since the original NES. The latter is why I’d be very interested in seeing them develop a Souls-like title using the characters and universe of the Kid Icarus franchise. With the kind of challenge the Kid Icarus franchise is known for, alongside the wide, flexible amount of enemies and characters in that universe, FromSoftware could easily put together what would essentially be a more cartoonish Souls title with character, while still maintaining the difficulty and worldbuilding that have made that franchise so successful.

Interesting Inclusions

FromSoftware obviously falls into this category as well. Everyone was a little surprised to see their name grace the list, and if they aren’t specifically working with Nintendo IP it will be very interesting to see whether they are developing a new game for the system or simply porting an old one. Same goes for ARC SYSTEM WORKS and Codemasters, the latter of which was developing Dirt 2 for Wii U before its launch and ended up never releasing it on the console.

That is basically where this category lies. Developers who seem out of place, or are not guaranteed to release games on the system, but have more than enough titles and franchises that could easily work on the system– even if they aren’t as easy to read.

I was originally planning on discussing 505 Games in the first section, considering their publishing support of several indie titles on other consoles like Rocket League, Indivisible, or Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, all of which seem like easy calls to come to Switch at one point or another. Their main properties, however, are Sniper Elite and Payday. The prior could certainly work on Switch, but it’s the latter that I’d give the highest chance of showing up, whether in a port of Payday 2 or a new release in Payday 3– the developer of which, Starbreeze Studios, just so happens to also be on this list. Coincidence?

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Image Courtesy of 505 Games

The small studio Frozenbyte, who are developing an isometric co-op title Nine Parchments, aren’t a guarantee but seem very likely to release that title on Switch. It is a simple game that likely would work just fine on the Switch eshop. I would expect that to come about at some point down the line.

Telltale Games is, of course, also on the list. Any of their titles would function adequately on the system– the only question, of course, being whether or not those games would sell. If so, we could easy see Batman, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and more all release on Nintendo’s new system.

THQ Nordic, formerly known as Nordic Games, is in an interesting spot due to their ownsership of several THQ properties including but not limited to Darksiders, Red Faction, Destroy All Humans!, Deadly Creatures, and De Blob. Almost all of these have appeared on Nintendo systems to varying levels of success both critically and commercially, but it’s almost impossible to guess what exactly the studio plans to do with the new Nintendo console considering they are not the original developers of any of those titles. Perhaps we’ll find out in January?

The only two other studios I have left to mention are Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. and Maximum Games, LLC. Neither is very easy to read: the prior because of its recent history of abandoning the AAA games industry and the shedding of their major talent, and the latter for generally not working on Nintendo consoles.

It’s hard to say that Konami will do much if anything outside of releasing games on whatever Virtual Console pops up on the Switch, but there’s always the possibility that Metal Gear Survive is announced for the platform– which is probably one of the least likely places it will sell, considering the general consensus on the title.

As for Maximum Games, there’s very little of note that will likely be released on Switch. Outside of Farming Simulator and Truck Simulator, the titles from their portfolio most likely to appear are smaller titles most of those reading this blog likely would have little to no interest in.

A Conclusion of Cautious Optimism

Despite my assumption that the Nintendo Switch is not likely to receive the full support of third party developers, the level this list has shown, alone, will likely set the system appart from the Wii U. The inclusion of developers that do not normally work with Nintendo, a clear willingness to reach out to developers and throw the weight of their IP around, the pure novelty of their console’s hybridity, and the titles that we already know will be on the system point to this being the case.

While the Switch may not get all the huge, power-intensive, open-world games that will grace the PS4 and XBO month in and month out, the position of the Switch offers it enough support for a variety of gaming experiences that will likely help to fill in the kinds of droughts that plagued the Wii U and even the 3DS these past 4 years.

As we inch closer to the full January reveal, the outlook for the Switch is one more of optimism than many would have predicted prior to the Trailer and this list being released, even if Nintendo’s history keeps all observers cautious about the future.

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