The arrival of Nintendo Switch in March has been by some distance the biggest story in games this year so far. Despite an opening line-up that relied a little heavily on Link’s latest jaunt in Hyrule, the machine captured the public’s imagination in a manner that its predecessor never could. Over 2.5 million units have been sold, consoles remain like gold dust at retail and Switch stories continue to occupy prime real estate in the games media.
Marc Williamson, Development Director here at Tag Games, believes that Switch represents a huge opportunity for mobile developers like Tag to expand into a new area of the market. “There is so much potential here for studios like ourselves and Switch could become the meeting point for mobile and console development. It’s based on mobile technology so the building blocks are there and a few developers have already seen the opportunity. Japanese launch title Voez is a straight mobile port playable only on the touchscreen, while the Switch versions of World of Goo and Little Inferno also offer options for tablet-only control. There really are no barriers to making this happen.”
Apart from the above titles there has been precious little to suggest that Switch will regularly provide a new home for mobile games, Marc adds, “Switch has a predicted install base of 6-7 million by the end of the year, so for developers operating towards the indie side of things it seems the perfect way to get their game to a wider audience. Faced with an increasingly impenetrable App Store marketplace dominated by those that can afford a huge UA spend, why not explore a new platform that is indie-friendly both from the developer and consumer side?” As the userbase and library grows there’s every chance this is the way things will develop naturally but for now, we’d like to see more mobile studios take the initiative, get the devkits and open up their games to a new audience.”
Though it may make sense from a business perspective the continuing lack of mobile-console synergy shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. There are countless fantastic games available on smartphones today and almost every major publisher or developer has at least some presence on iOS and Android, but the world of mobile gaming still remains curiously disparate from that of console or indeed PC. Despite making up over 35% of the games market, mobile remains all but ignored by the mainstream gaming media, with even indie hits like Monument Valley gaining little more than a token mention.
Based on mobile technology, indie-friendly and with the eyes of the core gaming industry upon it, it’s easy to see how Switch can potentially provide the crossover between two poles of the games industry but in these early days, there’s only the slightest snippet of a suggestion that this will happen. As making an impact on the app stores becomes an ever-bigger mountain to climb, Switch looks more and more like a platform that mobile indies should be evaluating closely.