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Why Microsoft needs to bring more Xbox games to Nintendo Switch

Switch
Switch (Image credit: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In a recent interview with IGN, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed a range of topics, including PlayStation 5 compared to Xbox Series X, upcoming games, and the possibility of more Xbox games heading to Nintendo Switch.

Microsoft has provided some support for the Nintendo Switch in recent years, with titles like Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead, and the upcoming Minecraft Dungeons. However, Microsoft may be shying away from that in the future. But we (really) don't think it should.

Microsoft on Xbox and Nintendo Switch support

Russell games

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

In the interview, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed the possibility of future Xbox games heading to Nintendo Switch, noting that they don't want to set an inconsistent expectation with consumers. From Spencer:

I think more and more about what does a full Xbox experience mean on different platforms. Right now, it seems like when any game comes out there is that 'is this one going here, is this one going there.' I'd rather be able to set more of an Xbox-level expectation for our fans on where things are going to go.I thought we did that with our first-party when we talked about games shipping on Xbox and PC. And I got some blow-back from certain people in certain groups on that, but at least we set an expectation on that. I'd rather see us get to that point on the different pieces of hardware we're on, so I guess I'll kind of leave it there.I definitely have a ton of respect for the role that Nintendo plays, and I love having great games on their platform. I don't really love this idea that for every one of our games, there becomes this little rumor on it 'is it going to end up on the Switch or not.' I feel we should set a better expectation with our fans than that.

I certainly appreciate the sentiment that inconsistency can frustrate consumers, but the Xbox platform already suffers from that a bit and will do so even more in the future.

Some games will be on Project XCloud, and many won't. Some games are on Xbox Play Anywhere and share saves with PC, but many don't. Some Xbox Game Pass titles on PC have achievements, but many don't. And so on. I hear those frustrations all the time in my DMs on Twitter.

While these might not create the same kinds of PR headaches, the question over whether an entire game will move to another platform does, and I think there's a pretty easy answer. I think any game that can potentially run well on Nintendo Switch's modest specs should consistently hit the platform.

When it makes sense, Xbox games should come to Switch

Source: Windows Central Xbox Game Studio Rare has its heritage bound up in Nintendo. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The Nintendo Switch has a few high-fidelity titles on the system, namely things like The Witcher 3 and DOOM, but the general expectation is that more intensive photorealistic games are unlikely to hit Nintendo Switch. It simply isn't powerful enough to run them, unless you're willing to accept a severely compromised experience. In that vein, I don't think people would expect Hellblade II, Halo Infinite, or Gears of War 6 to hit Nintendo Switch, but there are literally tons of games that could quite happily run on Nintendo Switch. And keeping them off the system feels largely arbitrary at this point.

The Rare Replay Collection, for example, would be a great collection to port to the Nintendo Switch, given that many of those franchises were born and thrived on Nintendo systems in decades past. The upcoming cartoon-style side-scroller Battletoads would also find a happy home on Nintendo Switch, as would Ori and the Will of the Wisps, given that Ori and the Blind Forest already hit Nintendo Switch. Gears Tactics could probably find a good home on Nintendo Switch, as well, with some graphical tweaks.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

For other games, like Bleeding Edge and Killer Instinct, bringing them to Nintendo Switch with cross-play would surely increase the userbase of those games, leading to a better experience for Xbox and PC gamers as well. Sure, graphics may have to be compromised for it to be viable, but it's probably a worthwhile tradeoff for an increased player base.

Many of these older games have likely peaked on their established platforms, meaning that by not bringing them to Nintendo Switch, Microsoft is effectively leaving money on the table. Nintendo has already been amicable with allowing the full Xbox API on the Nintendo Switch for achievements and the like, engaging people in Microsoft's ecosystem regardless of platform. It just makes sense. The Nintendo Switch is a portable experience Xbox can't offer right now.

Even if Project XCloud gets a full global launch, it won't have any Nintendo Switch-like handhelds to provide a truly ergonomic experience, asking you to trade access to your phone or buy peripherals on top. On the flip side, Nintendo Switch can't offer a full-blown HD or 4K experience with higher-end graphics like Xbox can, so there's not exactly a competing hardware experience Microsoft needs to worry about.

Why not?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Software sales lead to more investment in games, Xbox Game Studios, and Xbox hardware itself. I understand why Microsoft might not want to set an expectation that Xbox games aren't "Xbox" anymore, but the company has effectively already done that by supporting Steam and PCs, in general. The only hardware experience Xbox competes directly with is the PlayStation, as a living room-oriented 4K TV experience, while offering little on the handheld side to compete with the Nintendo Switch.

If consistency is the problem, why not just be consistent in supporting Nintendo Switch when it makes sense? Delight fans, broaden the Xbox brand, and heck, many of us would probably even double-dip on some games. I know I would.

What do you think? Good idea, or a potentially slippery slope? Let us know in the comments.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

20 Comments
  • You know I was just thinking yesterday how I'd probably actually play Sea of Thieves if it were on Switch.
  • Agree with you, bring more to the Switch and make sure they are all Live enabled to help make Switch users think of Series X for their "graphics" console. I bought Ori on Xbox back in 2015 and again in a sale on PC but never got into it (normally an FPS player) through not investing the time (or looking at Youtube being a noob).
    Getting it for the switch was a revelation, got hooked, flights, car charging sessions to the point I then went back and played some more of it on Xbox/PC. Got me really excited for Will'O'Wisps which I have since completed with about 97% done. I'd buy Wisps again to play on the Switch! Should add, many of the back catalogue of 360 games I'm honestly not going to play on my X/SeriesX despite all the great compatibility work. Too much new stuff for the big screen, I would play them on the Switch however.
  • The only way this makes sense is if it's Xcloud support on switch. Also, Nintendo must bring stove of their portfolio to xcloud even if streaming only
  • Yeah that wouldn't happen, sadly. Took them long enough to embrace mobile gaming.
  • That was my point, I don't think they should make more games for Nintendo either. Nintendo won't do it for Xbox
  • Or Microsoft could sell a Switch-like mobile Xbox that basically just serves as an Xcloud client.
  • Microsoft should also release Mixer for the Swich with a cap of 720p 30fps for broadcasting. More people would stream popular titles like the new Animal Crossing. Not everyone can afford a $200 capture card.
  • I would like to see Nintendo and Microsoft collaborating to bring the Nintendo exclusive games to the Rare colection, which should be also available at the Switch. A win win joint venture.
  • And the Mario remasters, if real, can be on Xbox!
  • Way to much time for the developer to spend in re designing the game for Switch. It makes sense with certain games like Ori. But imagine trying to get Forza Horizon 4 running on it. It's of course possible with lots and lots of downclockong and down grading. But to do that you'd essentially have 2 separate codes. It's a Tegra chipsets in thr Switch. It's not like it's a form of Jaguar architecture that's in the One. Take a look at Teh Outer Worlds and how much time has gone into making that work on the Tegra Cgioset on Switch. Series X games will be even harder. If it was an AMD chipset then it would be a case of scalability. But it's entirely different architecture.
  • The move from x86/x64 to ARM is not trivial (just look at the work MS and Qualcomm have been doing for the Surface X, and it STILL can't run x64 natively) and to add to that, the move from a DirectX API (Xbox) to a Vulkan (or OpenGL) API on the Tegra is an even bigger obstacle (not sure that there are any programming environments that even support cross-compiling for that mix of CPU/GPU/API.)
    I'm sure that MS would be thrilled if Nintendo would ALLOW a full xCloud Client on the Switch (MS would probably write them one for FREE) but that would be suicide for the Switch Game development revenue stream, which is the bread and butter of Switch income (proprietary games.)
    xCloud can turn just about any recent smartphone (with the exception of iPhones for now) into a Switch, and just needs a competent game button add-on to work, and those are available now.
    So, it is basically too much work for too little gain on all sides for it to happen.
  • I think Phil is right is different now and people were going to far I think this article goes far some of the games Jez says could go like Ori and Gears Tactics will be difficult ports given that you will be able to play those games on Xcloud remotely or on mobile and play on PC it is unnecessary for Xbox. I think that the relationship is good between Nintendo and Xbox but we tend to think that they don't really compete but there should be in this environment as much competition as Sony. Microsoft with Xcloud is gonna enter as a mobile competitor to the Switch and Xbox actually has genres that Sony has abandoned to Nintendo virtually that Xbox makes. The fact that some of ya would play certain games exclusively on another platform when Xbox has a service that provides similar experience at possibly higher performance is reason for Xbox to pause they want you to play anywhere but not at the cost of their platform. Nintendo this moment is the market leader in terms of sales of consoles each month and is the only publisher that has franchises that rivals the install base of Minecraft. Nobody talks about Xcloud coming to Nintendo Switch anymore and they partnered with Tencent for a lot of their online and maybe cloud plans going forward. What does Xbox platform and platform users get from it? Is not like we have seen one Nintendo game come to the platform it would be great if we got a Xenoblade Chronicles, a Shin Megami Tensei or even Astral Chain or Bayonetta 2 out of it! I get why maybe a Rare Replay makes sense or allowing Battletoads to eventually come to the Switch would be smart as a publisher but at some point I think Xbox fans understand and many agree with not making it a thing that games just go to Nintendo Switch I mean then to a point what is Xcloud good for?!
  • Other side of the question:
    Since cloud gaming is the future, should Nintendo bring Mario and other exclusive games to Xbox platform?
  • Imagine Microsoft unveiling xbox series x, s and p(portable).Imagine.
  • Would be perfect!
  • Nah, make it E for everywhere; S, E and X.
  • Listen the only thing Microsoft and Nintendo should be working on together right now is a Diddy Kong Racing remake on both machines. Game would print money.
  • It would only make sense if Nintendo shared their stuff with Xbox otherwise, no. I have a Switch and it's only okay. It's has a great game selection and the portability is nice but the poor online and lack of features hurt it. Let's not give Nintendo even more reasons to not improve it, please. Microsoft is already putting out xCloud to serve their portable needs and porting more games to Nintendo would only hurt them at this point. It would only be acceptable if Microsoft made it so xCloud worked on the Switch and you could stream games to it.
  • And the Next step? Bringing Halo Infinite and Forza 8 to the switch?
  • Agree with the diddy Kong racing idea. Loved that game would love that on my xbox and switch