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Game ports and the Switch

So there’s been constant debate and honestly complaints about how the switch is getting ports and where are the new games for the Nintendo Switch.  I find these comments and complaints a bit ignorant and stupid.

First, let’s look at ports and why the arguments against them are stupid.  Ports help the Switch build a quick following by providing a plethora of games that can meet everyone’s interests.  By bringing over ports, developers are able to create extra revenue stream to fund future and current projects which potentially allows games in development to be released for the Switch.  While introducing a large number of games there is still the concern that developers go overboard and you get the crappy shovelware that hurt the Wii.  

Second, let’s talk about what is a port.  If you really dig down every game is developed on a PC.  The tools necessary for game development are there and the power that desktops and PCs can provide allows developers to push things to the limit.  Once they know the top echelon of performance, developers can reign back the performance to meet various systems hardware limits.  But gamers need to keep in mind that these reign backs are not instantaneous.  There are many things to consider when a developer “ports” a game to other systems.  These include tweaking graphics to optimize playability on a system and potentially tweaking user interfaces for the nuances of each system.  There are sure to be more under the hood tweaks that need to be done, but it’s not as simple as flipping a zero to a one in the code.  Shall we talk about a bunch of ports that people haven’t complained about?  Final Fantasy 7 to PC? Halo to PC?  Originally Battlefield and Call of Duty were on PC and then ported to consoles?  Really, any FPS?  Diablo 3 was ported to consoles and everyone rejoiced?  Everyone seems to enjoy Hearthstone, how many ports has that had?  Do I even need to continue with the eternal list of ports that everyone is happy to have?

Third,  let’s talk about the development cycle.  Here’s a fact people, a game that has been announced and is planned for release in a month or two has already had potentially a year or more of work done on it already.  The game devs not only code the game, but they have to QC test it, bug check and get to a point of creating a platinum disk.  Then there is the need to setup manufacturing and supply chains (I’m sorry if you’ve never worked in operations or development, you really don’t understand the billion moving parts involved to create, package, launch, and stock a product).  Therefore, games that are due to release soon are taking the entire organizations resources just to get it out the door in time to optimize its sales (i.e. Why we see a lot of holiday game releases).  Once the game is released then there is the possibility of looking at optimizing the game for other systems, but there is also a possibility that the developer had a pipeline in place and is already working on their next IP.

Finally,  instead of complaining, why not be happy at the fact that third party and indie developers are even bringing games to the Nintendo Switch.  We could easily be left with only first party games, and the Switch would not be as successful as it currently is.  Everything takes time so be patient.

In the end remember that game developers still need to make money in order to pay salaries and keep the lights on so that they can create more games for us to enjoy.  These games take time and a company at the end of the day will decide based on system sales to develop for a console or not.  Because they have to recoup the cost to develop and make a profit in order to develop more games.


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