WARNING: PESSIMISM INCOMING.
So it’s 2017 and video games are very different from what we saw back in the early 00’s with the end of the PS2 era and the beginning of the next. Among those next generation systems was the Wii, an absolute monster in terms of popularity and a sure fire hit for Nintendo. Games were played locally, with just one or two stand outs having good online elements, this is how things were done with the Wii.
Now in 2017 we have something known as Games as a Service, or GaaS, which is a newish idea. It comes in two forms, the persistent online game (even in single player modes) which gives way to things like daily changing content and the much maligned Loot Crate system. The second form is the regularly updated (and much less offensive) style, where a game will receive free content for a year or so after it releases.
The regularly updated style of GaaS is much more consumer friendly but is seen less often; titles like The Witcher 3, DriveClub and Final Fantasy XV are great examples of this content roll out style. This style would work well on the Switch, however big name developers/publishers aren’t interested in giving out their content for free.
The other style of GaaS, (almost every triple A game released this year) vary in their reliance on in-game real money transactions, Loot Crates and instant updates, however they all have one thing in common; persistent online connections.
The portable nature of the Switch means one thing for Switch Triple A developers, the always online element of Games as a Service is out. How is EA supposed to advertise a temporary drop in FIFA Player Packs price if you aren’t online? How does Activision sell you a new camo colour in Call of Duty if you aren’t connected to WiFi? How does Ubisoft sell you a new operator in Rainbow 6 Siege if you have no internet connection..? Okay that last one is a little more obtuse, but Ubisoft have stated their commitment to Games as a Service and are notably absent from the Nintendo Switch.
The other element is of course piracy, I don’t mean stealing the whole game and burning it to a cartridge or anything like that. I mean as a way of exploiting in-game currencies to by pass the real money transactions or even finding a way to steal/cheat the content to use offline, therefore taking money away from the developers/publishers.
So with Ubisoft, EA, Activision and even Capcom (they tried GaaS with Street Fighter V, it’s horrible) are worried about the Switch’s “popularity” before going any further with the system.
This is all of course just conjecture on my part. It could be down to a number of different elements (development costs, target audience etc) but I think the whole GaaS trend will probably be struggling on the Switch.