The absence of E3 last year created a PR vacuum which publishers, media organisations and even noted figures in the world of gaming raced to fill with their own events. Geoff Keighley, bless him, attempted to wrangle it all — indie and triple AAA alike — under his Summer Game Fest umbrella, but ultimately Summer 2020 was a bit of a mess of events and announcements bleeding into each other and resulting in consumer confusion at best, apathy at worst.
Perhaps I felt it more keenly than others as at various times it fell on me to round up the announcements of such-and-such's presentation for the site and sift through and find what was new, relevant or repeated. I recall hours trawling through emails, press pages, websites and whatever resources were available (dev Twitter accounts on occasion) trying desperately to ascertain if Indie Game X was actually coming to Switch or not. I came to dread the ambiguity of the phrase "coming to PC and consoles". Ergh, can't we be a little more precise?
Now I totally understand the reason for not announcing all platforms at once, especially in the current climate and especially for smaller studios. For many developers, especially Indies, PC is the lead platform for purely practical reasons and launching the game elsewhere is something to deal with once all the fires have been put out. The difficulties of dealing with multiple platform holders and their guidelines aside, getting a game working on a single platform is a monumental feat, let alone catering for multiple SKUs, controller and UI standards, and navigating certification for consoles versus a nice simple PC release on Steam.
As multiple Kickstarter projects have demonstrated (anyone else still waiting for their 3DS copy of Mighty No. 9? — ooo, now there's another rant-y Soapbox article!), overselling and under-delivering is a recipe for disaster, so I appreciate caution when it comes to making platform announcements before working out if a Switch port is realistic and viable.
And I also appreciate the perceived second wave of coverage you get down the road when you announce a Switch version of your hit game. I understand why publishers do it. I get it.
I'm just so very tired of seeing a trailer and having the exact same question after pausing the video and scanning the logos and trademark notices: "Is it coming to Switch?".
I came to dread the ambiguity of the phrase "coming to PC and consoles". Ergh, can't we be a little more precise?
It's a question that's haunted developer interviews for the past four years, and everyone involved is surely tired of doing the dance, but it goes on. From a professional point of view, it's often more a case of "is this relevant to me?" and, although it would be nice to have the information presented a little more readily (you might be surprised at just how oblique and difficult to parse some publishers make their game-related materials!), that comes with the job. I certainly don't expect much sympathy for being made to trawl through press releases and associated documentation hunting for any mention of Nintendo. As a player, though, it's frustrating to have answers to these questions often deliberately withheld, especially when it's plain as day when a publisher knows if its game is coming to Switch or not.
Remember that Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster unveiled at the Square Enix Presents Summer Showcase? Not coming to Switch (or any console), apparently. Yes, at present, that remastered collection of those famous PC and mobile games Final Fantasies 1-6 is exclusive to Steam and mobile platforms...
At this point I should make it abundantly clear that I have absolutely no inside story on this. As far as I know, it'll remain on Steam and mobile platforms forever. The notion that Square wouldn't put this release on consoles is just ridiculous, though. Again, to reiterate, I have absolutely no clue if this is planned for consoles or not, but to not put this collection on Switch would be an unimaginably strange move from Square. Myself and every other console owner who likes a good RPG would find it very odd indeed.
Of course, odd business decisions which seemingly go against common sense are nothing new in the world of games. We're all still absolutely in the dark as to why Persona 5 isn't on Switch yet. That Sony has it tied up as some sort of console exclusive is the only explanation that seems to hold water because a Switch version is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Switch ports. I only hope Atlus and Sega got a big juicy cheque for it because they've left a massive number of potential Switch sales on the table.
They should know I'm more likely to just not play the game — there are too many titles to choose from and I don't have the time to be playing these silly will-they-won't-they games.
Perhaps I'm just getting crankier with age. Perhaps it's a publisher ploy to get me to double dip on two platforms, but they should know I'm more likely to just not play the game — there are too many titles to choose from and I don't have the time to be playing these silly will-they-won't-they games.
I imagine anyone with a physical collection gets similarly dismayed when physical editions of eShop games aren't confirmed until months after launch, typically a day or two after they caved and bought the digital version anyway. I've done it before when I've bought a game on Xbox only to have it confirmed for Switch soon after. In an ideal world I'd buy most games on Switch, even if the Xbox version looks better, just in case I want to play handheld. I remember buying Cuphead and the Switch port being surprise-announced within days.
I didn't begrudge anyone involved with that particular example — just having a Microsoft exclusive on Switch made the whole episode more surreal than infuriating, and I was pleased to support the devs on two platforms. It was more funny than infuriating. Of course, they'd go and announce the least likely of ports three days after I bought it! Typical.
I'm not that much of a curmudgeon, honest. I just wish publishers would do a better job of informing me if a game will be coming to my handheld hybrid of choice in their trailers, that's all. I don't care if it's coming a few weeks or months later, I'm just tired of the Switch Port guessing game — it's been over four years now and for the big publishers at least, there's really no excuse to keep players in the dark about which platforms their game will be on.
Rant over! Normal genial Gav shall return after his holidays. Let us know below if searching through the logos at the end of trailers has ever got you down in the past.