This week, Nintendo announced another game that was going to be ported to the fledgling Nintendo Switch console from a previous device. Although many had been hoping that the game in question would be an updated version of Pokemon Sun and Moon for the Switch, instead the company confirmed Pokken Tournament DX, another heavily-rumored port which will bring the home console Wii U exclusive Pokken Tournament to the Switch user base.
It’s far from the only Wii U game that has been ported to the Switch, either. Perhaps most famously, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has been brought into the Switch library, and it’s fair to say that the title has been a huge success. Not only has the game pulled in excellent reviews, but it’s been a powerhouse in sales, topping charts across the world.
Wii U Gets New Life on Switch
With that in mind, many gamers have been wondering exactly how far Nintendo will push the trend of Wii U games being ported over to its new console. It could be seen as an opportunity for the company to allow some of the more critically successful games from the Wii U’s library to stretch their legs, and find an audience that was quite simply not possible on the Wii U.
After all, there is no getting around the failure of the Wii U. Although the console certainly had its fans, in particular due to a strong line-up of first party titles, the Wii U was an absolute failure when it came to sales. The reason for this failure is still up for debate – with everything from the console’s marketing, clumsy naming, and lack of graphical punch being cited for poor sales – but the facts are clear: the Wii U sold very poorly.
This leaves Nintendo with something of a quandary. There are a number of titles in the Wii U library that could no doubt be a tremendous success on the Switch. Games such as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would be an immediate hit on the console, and a swift graphical sheen and perhaps an updated roster of characters could make the game a tempting purchase for many a Switch owner. It’s also a game that fans have been calling for on Switch, with rumors rumbling for some time about a Super Smash Bros. Switch release.
That’s far from the only game that Nintendo could be tempted to port over, either. Alongside Super Smash Bros., some of the publisher’s other games would certainly fit the bill. Given the small Wii U user base, the likes of Super Mario Maker, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, and even ports of the HD remakes of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess could certainly find some love on the Switch. Third-party developers have also shown interest in bringing over games from the Wii U, as seen with Lego City Undercover‘s Switch port after an initial Wii U release.
Too Many Ports Could Hurt Switch
However, Nintendo might want to be careful about exactly how far it pushes the trend of Wii U games coming to the Switch. At the moment, the new console is riding high, selling at levels that may well match those stellar commercial figures of the original Wii. Some of those sales will certainly come down to the belief that the Switch offers something different from the rest of the video game world, previous Nintendo consoles included.
It’s partly because of what gamers would expect from investing into a new piece of hardware, but also because of the way in which the Switch itself promises something new. The console is a hybrid of a home and handheld device, and keeping too close to previous generations may not go over as well in the long run as the sales of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe suggest.
Instead, Nintendo will need to keep fresh games coming. A small library is one of the many reasons given for the struggles of the Wii U, and although a handful of ports from the former console will no doubt be well received by those who skipped the Wii U altogether, it’s unlikely to be a long-lasting strategy for success. Instead, Nintendo will need to ensure that upcoming new games such as Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey reach the heights expected of them, building upon the quality shown by games such as ARMS.
In the end, then, it will be a fine balancing act for Nintendo, should the company seek to continue porting Wii U games alongside new titles. Perhaps the publisher can take some stock from the actions of one of its rivals: Sony. After all, Sony dealt with a similar situation with the release of the PS4, with the potential for PS3 games to see remastered ports on the then-new console.
Sony Set the Path with PS3 Ports on Ps4
Of course, the PS3 was by no means a failure. The console was something of a sleeper hit during the last generation, and current estimates put the overall sales at just shy of 84 million units. However, the PS3 did struggle in comparison to Sony’s initial expectations, and did come out behind both the Wii and the Xbox 360 in the commercial race.
With that in mind, Sony and a variety of third-party publishers faced difficult decisions when it came to PS4 releases. In the end, though, a number of games have made it over to the PS4, most notably the hugely acclaimed The Last Of Us remaster, the cross-platform release of GTA 5, and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. But there’s still one defining feature which, at the moment, separates the PS4 and the Switch: major third party support.
It’s here that Nintendo truly needs to be careful about how it utilizes remastered Wii U games. Sony was able to not only rely on other publishers and developers to push remastered titles onto the PS4, but also on a fresh variety of new games coming from alternative sources. Although a number of third party developers have pledged to support the Switch throughout its life cycle – most notably seen through Ubisoft’s vocal commitments to Nintendo – the number of solid third party titles on the console is yet to materialize.
Thankfully, it looks as though Nintendo is certainly keen to push on with further new games for the console, and with E3 just around the corner it may well be that Nintendo’s Direct will help solve the mystery of exactly what those unannounced Switch games are. Hopefully, they won’t all prove to be Wii U ports – but the opportunity to play Smash Bros. on Switch is unlikely to be one that many gamers turn down.