One of the Wii U's biggest weaknesses was third-party support. But this time, Nintendo doesn't want to repeat that mistake with the upcoming Switch.
Last month, Nintendo announced a slew of third-party titles for the Switch, including Skyrim. A promising sign? During a recent financial meeting, Nintendo talked more about this time will be different (which, I feel, is something I've heard before).
"For our previous game platforms, creating our own development tools was a high priority for us," says Nintendo exec Shinya Takahashi. "However, since the start of Nintendo Switch development we have been aiming to realise an environment in which a variety of different third-party developers are able to easily develop compatible software, such as by making it compatible with Unreal and Unity as well as our own development tools."
Shigeru Miyamoto added that third-party devs who are making PC title can "now easily adapt" those games for the Switch. "In the current development environment, Iʼd say that it would take less than a year for them to port a PC game to Nintendo Switch."
People do buy Nintendo hardware to play Nintendo games, but it would be wonderful if its recent home consoles saw the kind of support its handhelds have.
Internally, Nintendo has also made changes to its corporate structure that should streamline development. Software development teams for home consoles and handhelds used to be in different departments, but now, according to Miyamoto, they have been merged.
Moreover, Miyamoto said that Nintendo's own staff have been feeling "the ease of software development" for the Switch. "Also, even though game software developers in the US and EU are often said to have superior skills to their Japanese counterparts when it comes to software development techniques," Miyamoto continued, "Nintendoʼs software developers have mastered state-of-the-art technologies such as Unreal engine, and their skills can now be compared with those of Western developers."
The desire of Japanese game makers to create their own game engines has always seemed costly and ineffective. Nintendo's decision to make industry standard tools available should hopefully mean more third-party games end up on the Switch.
"Nintendo will keep on creating unique software," said Takahashi. "By doing so, I believe we will encourage third-party developers to create a number of quality software titles for Nintendo Switch."
I feel like this has been the attitude since the N64, and it hasn't always translated into third-party support in the past. Maybe this time will be different.