2018 Will Be the Year of the Switch Port

Publishers will be looking to get a piece of the Switch's success the easiest way they can.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

When Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimes appeared during The Video Game Awards to announce a port of Bayonetta 1 and 2 for the Switch, he inaugurated what will almost certain be the Year of the Port for Nintendo's console.

Fresh off a historic first year, the popular hybrid will be a natural destination for a host of ports. You can already see it starting to happen. In the course of announcing Mega Man 11, Capcom revealed that both Mega Man Legacy Collection games were on the way to the Switch. Bethesda has already ported Skyrim and DOOM, with Wolfenstein on the way. Nintendo ported Mario Kart 8. Indies have been flocking to the Switch amid the success of the Stardew Valley port.

Bayonetta 2 is just one of the many games that will be ported to the Switch in 2018.

In 2018, this stream of ports will become a deluge. Demand is huge for Switch ports, and Nintendo is sitting on a host of Wii U games that can easily make the transition to portable. Seemingly every major series that isn't a graphical powerhouse is being rumored for the Switch.

The appeal for both fans and publishers is obvious. Fans get a portable version that they can break out whenever they want. Publishers get another burst of sales at fairly minimal cost. A gratuitous double dip on another console would be a welcome sight on the Nintendo Switch.

Who wouldn't want a portable version of, say, the Mass Effect trilogy? Or the Arkham games? Or maybe Wind Waker HD?

Publishers are recognizing the inherent appeal of Switch ports; and with the install base firmly established, are scrambling to pump out as many ports as possible. The very first Nintendo Switch release of 2018 is a port of The Escapists 2. Following that, February will see ports of Bayonetta, Dragon Quest Builders, and Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, and Payday 2, with Wolfenstein 2 and Darkest Dungeon slated for later in the year.

That's almost certainly the tip of the iceberg. As publishers scramble to throw resources as the Switch, more ports will continue to appear. The fall will almost certainly be rife with them. Already there are reports that Monolith Soft is weighing a Xenoblade Chronicles X port, and that Square Enix is trying to cram Final Fantasy XV on to the system.

If there's a danger to this approach for development on the Switch, it's that ports might choke out original development for the platform, at least in the short term. Indeed, even the novelty of portability will only take you so far with a game you've already played. If the Switch's online store is littered with last-generation releases, it will inevitably start to feel stale and... well... last-gen.

Xenoblade Chronicles X? Wind Waker HD? The possibilities are endless.

Adding to that concern is that there's seemingly little on the horizon from Nintendo save for second-tier releases like Kirby Star Allies and Yoshi. Nintendo kickstarted the Switch with the incredible one-two punch of Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, but there's nothing of that magnitude on the way for 2018. Pokemon and Fire Emblem are likely still a year away, and there's been no sign of a new Smash Bros. game. Nintendo is obviously the Switch's most important developer by far; and if 2018 is an off year for them, the platform's library of original releases may start to seem slightly barren.

But it Won't be All Ports for the Switch in 2018

Still, the Switch won't be totally bereft of original releases in 2018. Aside from Nintendo's aforementioned Kirby and Yoshi games, Sega is prepping Valkyria Chronicles 4, which is apt to be a perfect fit for the system. Project Octopath Traveler, the retro-styled RPG from Square Enix, is already getting a lot of positive buzz. And, of course, Reggie followed up his reveal of a Bayonetta 1 and 2 port with word that Platinum is also working on Bayonetta 3. Indeed, with the 3DS on the way out, Japan figures to come through in a big way for the Switch.

Project Octopath Traveler is one of the Switch's potential highlights for 2018.

Beyond that, though, it will be ports, ports, and more ports as publishers and indie developers alike scramble to cash in on their back catalogs. We may see a lot more original development in the future as formerly retiscent publishers throw their full weight behind the Switch; but in their short term, they will be looking to get as many games out for it as possible.

To be honest, I will be perfectly happy to see many of my favorite games make the journey over to the Switch. It's emblematic of the platform's natural appeal that so many older games feel fresh and new on the portable screen. And heaven knows that the world needs a Persona 5: Crimson Edition for the Switch.

But whether you want them or not, you'd best be ready, because the ports are definitely on their way. The only question is how long it will be before we start to get sick of them.

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Comments 26

  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker 9 months ago
    Nintendo is probably going to announce a dock with HDD support soon to accommodate all the ports.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #2 LBD_Nytetrayn 9 months ago
    I'm sure Nintendo will have stuff to announce at E3. We already know Metroid Prime 4 is a thing as well.
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #3 LunarFlame17 9 months ago
    I find it a little baffling how so many people seem to think that because Nintendo hasn’t announced anything big for 2018, that means nothing big is coming. How many of 2017’s Switch games did we know about a year ago? Obviously we know about BOTW, but that’s about it. We knew a new Mario game was coming, but we knew nothing about it. We didn’t even know if it was coming out in 2017 or not. As for the rest, I can’t really remember, but I definitely remember having this conversation, that Nintendo didn’t have anything big in the works for the coming year. I have a feeling that the only reason we don’t really know about anything big coming for the Switch yet, is because Nintendo isn’t ready to talk about it yet.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #4 chaoticBeat 9 months ago
    Bring it all on. Older games deserve a chance to shine on a portable console and on a nintendo console.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #5 Roto13 9 months ago
    I wouldn't mind ports of all the worthwhile Wii U exclusives. Games like Bayonetta 2 and Super Mario 3D World deserve an audience.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #6 Roto13 9 months ago
    @LunarFlame17 If that Amazon leak is to be believed, there's a Direct coming soon with a bunch of Switch announcements.
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  • Avatar for themblan #7 themblan 9 months ago
    I'm fine with ports for now, especially since I was a diehard Wii U fan and barely played any other system except for PC.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #8 MetManMas 9 months ago
    Even though their framerates and visual fidelity would certainly take a Doom-esque hit, I would tolerate that just to have portable versions of Resident Evil 7 and NieR:Automata.

    More practically though, I'd love to see Birthdays: The Beginning on Switch. A li'l life-evolving sim like that is a much better fit for a portable than the PS4, and the game looks like it could've worked comfortably on the PS2.
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  • Avatar for jimgamer #9 jimgamer 9 months ago
    the PS4 was swamped with HD remaster early on. Bigger, new IP took a while to materialize, but I think a lot of goodwill towards the ports came from Xbox 360 owners hopping over to Sony, having missed the PS3. The Switch offers the draw of Nintendo games plus the compelling form factor that makes for a new way to experience old games, and having them with you at all times. GTA V and Res Dead seem obvious blockbusters to move over (LA Noire is terrific and suggests it could be possible). Call of Duty. The Orange Box. Bioshock. Dead Space. Ninja Gaiden. Need for Speed. The list goes on and on. Exciting times.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #10 chaoticBeat 9 months ago
    @jimgamer A portable Dead Space trilogy would be so rad, speaking of ea, so would a Burnout collection. I like to throw a Shadow Hearts trilogy in there every time this discussion comes up because dreams don't die.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #11 jeffcorry 9 months ago
    I would love to see Switch ports. The more portable games the better. Mario 3D World, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy XII, etc. I will buy too many!
    Honestly, the Switch has made me wish my PS4 had a portable
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #12 donkeyintheforest 9 months ago
    Increases in processing power are having diminishing returns on graphic fidelity in games relative to the past. AAA games are just becoming too expensive to develop. As this trend continues, more and more titles will be considered evergreen, as game creation will not limited by processing power, but people-hour investment.

    As you can see with the ports of all the indies, the Switch is on the first line of this. Nintendo has often taken the lower processing power path over the tech specs arms race; and now the lower processing power path is closing the gap with the tech spec-ers.

    I don't think a future of ports is just inevitable for the Switch, but for all systems moving forward. Remakes like the upcoming Shadow of the Colossus or the increased fidelity of the PS4 port of Last of Us will be the norm. I think in just a few years that even a AAA game's market longevity will be about it's gameplay and user community, not about graphics or the console/pc platform it originally launched on.
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  • Avatar for boatie #13 boatie 9 months ago
    I really hope they put out Xenoblade Chronciles X on the Switch, even though that would probably mean I'd sell my Wii U eventually
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  • Avatar for Barelyhomosapien #14 Barelyhomosapien 9 months ago
    With the WIi U, I struggled to give it screen time, against the PC, heck my PS4 was barely played last year except for Horizon.

    I would be happy for Nintendo to port the entire Wii U first party catalog over because I might actually get a chance to play them on the Switch.
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  • Avatar for Mr.Spo #15 Mr.Spo 9 months ago
    Given I had a Wii U I'd prefer ports of other series. There's a lot of potential for Western publishers to sell ports to the Nintendo-only gamers (a niche, sure) who've missed out on multi-platform blockbusters over the last decade or so. Plus, for those of us who've played those types of games, having the Bioshock trilogy or the Mass Effect trilogy on-the-go would be great, especially if these games are ported with care and effort. It'd be great to see things like FFXII:HD and Okami HD move to Switch, too.
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  • Avatar for chilon #16 chilon 9 months ago
    I'm already sick of them, portability isn't enough of a bonus to justify me waiting for a steam sale and spending half or a third of the money on a PC version. I'd still rather plug in my Wii U then buy a second copy of a game. This will only really be great for people who never bought a Wii U, and I guess there are a lot of them. I'd prefer a new 2D Mario to a hundred ports.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #17 Neifirst 9 months ago
    @kat.bailey You're brave to make any predictions about Nintendo's 2018 first-party output about a week before its January Direct! Let's see where things stand a week from tomorrow....
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #18 Gamer-Law 9 months ago
    @kat.bailey is certainly correct in noting that Project Octopath Traveler is a 2018 highight for the Switch. Despite the subpar Switch demo, I am not ready to give up on Lost Sphear either.

    Fire Emblem for Switch may slip into 2019, but given that Nintendo was able to deliver on its promise of a 2017 release date for Xenoblade 2, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that we will see FE at some point this year.

    Nintendo has plenty of arrows in its quiver for the Switch and while the system is likely to see more than its share of ports, I think Nintendo realizes that it has a very good thing going at the moment and they will do their utmost to keep the game library fresh and appealing to gamers. Edited January 2018 by Gamer-Law
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  • Avatar for moochan #19 moochan 9 months ago
    I see 3rd party ports being the big thing but not really on Nintendo side. Bayonetta 1+2 and I feel one more (most likely Smash) will be the only games this year. XCX would be great but I'm guessing they will hold that off another year if they are going to do it. They rather focus on how 3rd party is helping out rather than just talk about all the Nintendo games you can play. For ports Dragon Quest Builders is coming soon and I'm happy for that and I'm sure Namco is rushing to get something on Switch soon. New games SMT 5 is hopefully really good and Octopath Traveler is looking exciting.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #20 Number1Laing 9 months ago
    The Switch is a natural fit for last-gen games, and if Xbox One BC has proved anything, it's that there are a lot of really great games that hold up last-gen. I can think of a couple dozen 360 games that would be amazing on Switch without too much difficulty. Plus with the annoyingly high number of remasters this gen these games are still in the publishers' mind. I'd much rather have Batman Arkham City or Assassin's Creed 2 on Switch than PS4 or Xbox One.

    Of course the system can also handle current-gen games, with compromises, and while I don't know the sales numbers for games like Doom, people generally seem to be ok with those compromises.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #21 cldmstrsn 9 months ago
    I want XCX and a remaster of the first one! and then for Nintendo to get with Bandai-Namco and do the Xenosaga remasters then get together with Square and full on Xenogears remake!!!Edited January 2018 by cldmstrsn
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  • Avatar for SpoonyBardOL #22 SpoonyBardOL 9 months ago
    I am waiting with bated breath for the Mega Man Legacy Collections (largely the second one, so we'll finally have portable versions of MM9 and 10), but I also hope they'll give us the Disney Afternoon Collection. The only thing I could see stopping that is some arcane legal nonsense with Disney.

    Persona 5 is a must, I can't imagine Atlus hasn't already had that conversation. FFXV is ambitious, but I won't be too disappointed if Square can't pull it off, since it feels kinda unlikely.

    But if they can pull off FFXV, maybe Konami could throw MSG5 their way too?

    Basically at this point I'm thinking of all the last-gen games I never got to play....
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  • Avatar for ericspratling56 #23 ericspratling56 9 months ago
    This is true and funny:

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  • Avatar for docexe #24 docexe 9 months ago
    I mentioned before that I expected most Western Publishers to support the Switch via ports of older games, in that sense it wouldn’t surprise me if 2018 is indeed the year of the Switch port. That won’t bother me provided, as the article states, that they achieve some balance between ports and new content, and that said new content doesn’t get buried.

    Now, I do plan to double dip on the ports of a few games that are truly excellent (like the Bayonetta games), but for the most part I would primarily buy ports of games that I have not played yet and that, realistically speaking, playing them on a portable might be the only chance I ever get of actually finishing them (for that matter, I really hope EA considers bringing the Mass Effect trilogy to Switch).
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  • Avatar for docexe #25 docexe 9 months ago
    @LunarFlame17 The one-two punch combo of Zelda and Mario last year will be a tough act to follow, but I expect that Nintendo has at least one major game planned for this year. Part of the issue here is that they have gotten into this habit of not announcing anything until just a few months before release. As you point out, Super Mario Odyssey was announced in January for an October release on the same year, which is really atypical for a major release. For not talking of how Samus Returns was unveiled just three months before launch.
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  • Avatar for Iambiz #26 Iambiz 9 months ago
    A lot of people are hoping for a GTA 5 port (including@jimgamer above) but I wonder how the lack of analog triggers will impact this. I played this on the PS3 and, on some of the more difficult driving missions, I barely succeeded with the fine-tuned controls that analog triggers provide, I'm not sure how one would make it through on the Switch without them.

    On another note, my hopes for Switch ports this year:

    King's Quest (2015) - Relatively light graphics, switch should be able to handle it. I enjoyed the first episode free on Steam and would love to experience the entire adventure on the Switch.
    Divinity Original Sin 1 - Low graphics requirements, if it does well should lead the way to a (graphics lite) DoS2 port.
    Vanillaware's entire catalog - I would buy and play each and every game they port over.
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