‘Rocket League’ Coming To Nintendo Switch Should Not Even Be A Debate – Forbes

Rocket League

Psyonix

Rocket League

We are still in the honeymoon phase of the Nintendo Switch’s launch, where the system is still more or less sold out worldwide, and everyone still can’t stop talking about how great Zelda: Breath of the Wild is (myself included).

But we are also still very much in the “wait and see” period when it comes to judging the true success of the Switch, and whether third parties agree that it’s time to get fully on board with the system. We have seen relatively little movement from any third party devs in terms of bringing big releases to the Switch, and now there’s a sample test case that shows this may not get much better going forward.

IGN recently spoke to Psyonix Studios’ Vice President Jeremy Dunham about the possibility of the hugely popular Rocket League coming to the Nintendo Switch.

“Just like all the other platforms, we are evaluating it. We’re looking to see what the technical requirements are,” Dunham said. “We’re looking to see what kind of true community demand there is. We’re looking to see how it would benefit the community as a whole. So we’re still in that evaluation phase. It’s definitely too early to say that it wouldn’t happen, but it’s also definitely too early to say that it would.”

This is an extremely non-committal response for a third party game that should theoretically be a no-brainer for the Switch. Unlike a huge AAA third party game like GTA or Call of Duty or Destiny, Rocket League should be a lot less taxing on the Switch, and it’s a title that absolutely lends itself to remote/mobile play as well.

Some have speculated that part of the hesitation is that the Switch uses digital instead of analog triggers, which would make it harder to controller the precise speed of your cars in Rocket League. While that may be a consideration, I doubt that’s the hold-up here.

The Nintendo Switch

Paul Tassi

The Nintendo Switch

Rather, I think that Psyonix is probably the most concerned with seeing how Nintendo’s online service functions. We’re often focused on the power level of the Switch, or the potential issues adapting a game that has to function on both a handheld and home console, effectively, but I think online is a huge factor here as well.

The launch of the Switch has not really tested the online capabilities of the new system yet, and only once Mario Kart and Splatoon 2 hit the scene will the full extent of Nintendo’s online capabilities be known, and even then, the entire system is likely to remain in beta until fall. We still know relatively little about the mobile app these services are run through, and online is such a huge component of Rocket League, that I have to believe that this is the primary reason Psyonix is keeping their distance for now.

One common refrain I’ve heard about the Switch is that players now want to play literally everything on the console, because they’ve gotten so used to the ability to switch between mobile and home console versions of the games. Then switching to say, Mass Effect: Andromeda on Xbox or PS4, and suddenly you’re back tethered to your home console permanently. It’s then you understand the core of the Switch’s appeal.

The problem is that now we have a situation that does not line-up with reality. Nintendo wanted to create a new way for people to play games, and for once, they did that with great success. The handheld functionality of the Switch is more immediately engaging than the Wiimote or the Gamepad ever were. But the problem is that the hardware is still limited to carrying mostly Nintendo games, while all the big third party games players wish they could be playing remain inaccessible. I can imagine how awesome it would be to be able to play say, Destiny 2 on the go, but in all the talk about that game this week, no one is even pretending like it’s coming to the Switch. Again, it’s probably a combination of technical and online limitations, but that’s a shame considering the desire is clearly there for something like that to happen and in some ways, it could create a superior version of the game.

The point is if that Rocket League is struggling this much with deciding whether or not to come to the Switch, I’m not sure how well that bodes for other, more complex third party games in the future. The Switch is undeniably great, but its potential will remain limited unless Nintendo works incredibly hard with third parties to figure out some way for their major releases to make their way to their system.

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