Overwatch Nintendo Switch

Image via Blizzard

Overwatch director makes a Nintendo Switch release sound unlikely

Not all hope is lost, though.

Apr 13, 2017, 2:34 pm*

Internet Culture

 

Chris Tognotti

Despite the deepest hopes of Blizzard fans and Nintendo fans everywhere, there’s no guarantee that Overwatch will ever make it to the Nintendo Switch. It hasn’t been ruled out either, but according to the game’s director Jeff Kaplan (also the vice president of Blizzard), bringing the mega-hit online shooter to the Switch would be a “very challenging” process that would require the game’s team to “revisit performance.”

Kaplan made his initial remarks in a Reddit AMA last month, while complimenting Nintendo’s new console. “I’m loving the Switch!” Kaplan wrote. “Getting OW on the Switch is very challenging for us. But we’re always open minded about exploring possible platforms.”

Then, in an exclusive follow-up with Express, Kaplan elaborated on the dilemma. To hear him tell it, bringing Overwatch to the Switch would force the Blizzard team to revisit the game’s minimum specifications, thanks to the relatively low power of Nintendo’s latest system. Said Kaplan: “I think the problem is, we’ve really targeted our min spec in a way that we would have to revisit performance and how to get on that platform.”

Also, Kaplan noted that the game is already stretched across three different platforms—Playstation 4, XBOX, and PC—and while patching all three simultaneously is a headache, it’s finally been worked out. Adding a fourth platform would mean even more labor on that front.

The second part of Kaplan’s statement, about being “always open minded about exploring possible platforms,” may be a source of hope for any Overwatch fans. The first part about minimum specs, however, doesn’t bode well. Nintendo has never really aspired to compete with Sony and Microsoft as far as raw console power is concerned, which means bringing a game like Overwatch onto the Switch’s roster could potentially be a huge undertaking. Even more so considering Overwatch is a complex multiplayer first-person shooter which needs to run smoothly and without falter to ensure competitive fairness.

On the one hand, it’s bound to be reassuring to fans that the question of a Nintendo Switch version of the game is still on Kaplan’s mind. But on the other, his most recent comments to the newspaper sound more like tamping down enthusiasm in advance of a disappointment.

Nonetheless, the fact that there’s a dialogue ongoing is notable. There are few video game fan communities as accustomed to receiving active engagement from the creators of its favorite game, and Kaplan’s regular updates have made him a well-liked figure among Overwatch fans. He also addressed the game’s emphasis on diversity in an interview with Kotaku UK this week, calling it “sort of the inspiration behind the game in general.”

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*First Published: Apr 9, 2017, 1:58 pm