Forums - Gaming Discussion - Have 3rd Party Devs treated the Switch as a Console or a Handheld

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Due to the heated debate in this thread Poll - Is Switch a 9th gen console? (and many others on this site) regarding whether the Nintendo Switch should be looked at as a "console with portability" or a "handheld that can connect to a tv", I thought it would be interesting to see how 3rd Party software developers have handled the Switch.  Here is a comparison of major 3rd party multiplatform releases, and how the developers handled them as console or handheld ports.  The games are not listed in any particular order.  In the cases of series, I did group them together in order of older to newest.  If a platform had been either discontinued or not released yet at the time the software was released, I listed that platform as "N/A" (not-applicable).  I was going to put a column for the Wii U, but decided against it, because it is well known that 3rd Party developers mostly abandoned developing for the Wii U about 13 months after the console was released.

3DS PS Vita PS3
XBox 360 Switch PS4 XBox One
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LA Noire No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
The Witcher 3 No No N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Doom (2016) No No N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Doom Eternal No N/A N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Wolfenstein II:  The New Colossus No No N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Wolfenstein:  Young Blood No N/A N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
NBA 2K18 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NBA 2K19 No No N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
NBA 2K20 No N/A N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
FIFA 15 Yes Yes Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes
FIFA 16 No No Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes
FIFA 17 No No Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes
FIFA 18 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FIFA 19 No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FIFA 20 No N/A N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Assassin's Creed III No No Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Assassin's Creed III:  Liberation No Yes No No N/A N/A N/A
Assassin's Creed III:  Remastered No No N/A N/A Yes Yes Yes
Call of Duty:  Black Ops II No No Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Call of Duty:  Black Ops Declassified No Yes No  No N/A N/A N/A

As you can see in the FIFA section of the chart, EA made a specific decision to stop releasing handheld versions of FIFA after FIFA 15 released in September 2014.  But when the Nintendo Switch launched in March 2017, it received a console port of FIFA 18 just like the PS4 and XBox One. 

As for the NBA 2K series, I had to go all the way back to NBA 2K13 to find a handheld version for the PSP.  2K Sports stopped releasing a handheld port of NBA 2K after that version released in 2012.  The 3DS and the Vita did not get a single port or version of an NBA 2K game.  But, the Nintendo Switch has received the same console port as PS4 and XBox One every year since the Switch released.

When Assassin's Creed III released in 2012 for the Wii U, PS3, and XBox 360, the PlayStation Vita handheld received the spinoff title "Assassin's Creed III: Liberation" instead.  In 2019, the Nintendo Switch received Assassin's Creed III:  Remastered along with the PS4 and XBox One.  

The same situation occurred with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II in 2012.  The WiiU, PS3, and XBox 360 all received the home console version.  Meanwhile, the PlayStation Vita received Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified.  The game was set between Black Ops and Black Ops II, and received extremely negative reviews.

All of this tells me that 3rd Party developers have been treating the Nintendo Switch as a home console when it comes to porting their software releases.  A home console that has the advantage of being able to be seemlessly taken on the go.  Even though the Switch ports have in instances had some concessions made, the Switch has not received the handheld spinoff titles that previous handheld devices have normally received in place of home console versions.

The Switch is a hybrid by its nature, yes.  But, there are far too many people who vehemently try to peg it as "just a handheld with t/v out functionality".  There are charts that prove that Switch owners use the docked and hybrid mix more than those who only ever play it in handheld mode.  The Switch Lite, which was heralded as "proof that the Switch is a handheld" since it can not be docked, has not sold more than the OG Switch.  When the Switch is sold out, it is typically the docked models that get bought up first.  If I recall correctly, sales reports for the Switch hardware sales boom from the early months of COVID-19 and Animal Crossing release went out of their way to mention that it was excess unsold Switch Lites that helped keep the Switch from running out of stock sooner than it would have.

Please discuss why you do or do not believe the major 3rd party multiplat releases on the Switch lend more to a view of the Switch as home console/portable hybrid than a "handheld with t/v out".



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To be honest, I never understood the point in calling it a handheld with TV output. It's both, plain and simple. It depends on how you use it, and going by the charts you've already mentioned, gamers use it as both. I don't know why this is so hard to understand.

And same goes for 3rd parties, the Switch saw home console games like Doom as well as handheld games like Disgaea. I think it's a healthy mix.



Gameplay > Graphics

Substance > Style

Art Direction > Realism

While it's an angle of interest to look at what third parties have been doing, it's not the be all, end all in determining whether Switch is a home console that is also portable or a handheld that connects to the TV. Gamers are a lot more valuable than third parties, so it's about what they consider Switch to be. That's not measured in internet anecdotes, but sales data.

As of March 31st 2020, Switch has shipped 55.77m units of hardware and 383.11m units of software. That's a tie ratio of 6.87.

In a comparable timeframe, the 3DS shipped 43.33m units of hardware and 162.92m units of software. That's a tie ratio of 3.76.

In a comparable timeframe, the PS4 has sold through 53.4m units of hardware and 401.1m units of software. That's a tie ratio of 7.51. (I used sold-through figures here because they were quicker to find than LTD shipments for both categories. Shipments would bump both the hardware and software, so the tie ratio would hardly change and tie ratio is the important value here.)

The facts paint a clear picture. Switch is a home console with portability because its tie ratio sets itself far apart from all handheld consoles in the past. Its tie ratio is slightly lower than the PS4s, but Switch has a far lower number of games with high development and marketing budgets, so smaller digital-only games have a higher chance to sell and succeed. Digital-only games are neither counted by Nintendo or Sony in their financial reports, so the above tie ratios only reflect software that is available at retail, meaning the games that get counted are either exclusively physical or available in both physical and digital format.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

I appreciate the Switch's easy portability when traveling, but when I'm at home, it stays in its dock and I use it on my TV with the Pro controller. I consider it to be a home system that has portability with the exact same games as a bonus, which is what I've always wanted from the market.



Who cares. Whether they have or not tells me nothing about the quality of support. You can have good third party support on a handheld (I.E. Square Enix and Atlus's support of the DS for example), or bad third party support on a console (I.E. the Wii U). In addition, the publishers being mentioned in the OP mostly focus on the home console games anyways. And they're western publishers. It would be like saying Bravely Default 2 is a sign that the Switch is a successor to the 3DS . It's not even that the base conclusion is wrong, it's just that the way you came to it is flawed.

I mean, you could easily just say the mobile shovelware which clogs the eshop makes the Switch more comparable to a portable, or even a phone, but you'd be stupid for saying that.



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GoOnKid said:

To be honest, I never understood the point in calling it a handheld with TV output.

Because it is xD



AngryLittleAlchemist said:
Who cares. Whether they have or not tells me nothing about the quality of support. You can have good third party support on a handheld (I.E. Square Enix and Atlus's support of the DS for example), or bad third party support on a console (I.E. the Wii U). In addition, the publishers being mentioned in the OP mostly focus on the home console games anyways. And they're western publishers. It would be like saying Bravely Default 2 is a sign that the Switch is a successor to the 3DS . It's not even that the base conclusion is wrong, it's just that the way you came to it is flawed.

I mean, you could easily just say the mobile shovelware which clogs the eshop makes the Switch more comparable to a portable, or even a phone, but you'd be stupid for saying that.

That was a blunt and mean post. I approve.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

RolStoppable said:
AngryLittleAlchemist said:
Who cares. Whether they have or not tells me nothing about the quality of support. You can have good third party support on a handheld (I.E. Square Enix and Atlus's support of the DS for example), or bad third party support on a console (I.E. the Wii U). In addition, the publishers being mentioned in the OP mostly focus on the home console games anyways. And they're western publishers. It would be like saying Bravely Default 2 is a sign that the Switch is a successor to the 3DS . It's not even that the base conclusion is wrong, it's just that the way you came to it is flawed.

I mean, you could easily just say the mobile shovelware which clogs the eshop makes the Switch more comparable to a portable, or even a phone, but you'd be stupid for saying that.

That was a blunt and mean post. I approve.

Intention wasn't really to be mean. 



AngryLittleAlchemist said:
Who cares. Whether they have or not tells me nothing about the quality of support. You can have good third party support on a handheld (I.E. Square Enix and Atlus's support of the DS for example), or bad third party support on a console (I.E. the Wii U). In addition, the publishers being mentioned in the OP mostly focus on the home console games anyways. And they're western publishers. It would be like saying Bravely Default 2 is a sign that the Switch is a successor to the 3DS . It's not even that the base conclusion is wrong, it's just that the way you came to it is flawed.

I mean, you could easily just say the mobile shovelware which clogs the eshop makes the Switch more comparable to a portable, or even a phone, but you'd be stupid for saying that.

Yes, that's my point.  Publishers who primarily ignore handhelds and focus on home consoles are publishing their home console games on the Switch. 

As for Bravely Default 2, it's not uncommon for a release in a series to switch back and forth between handhelds and consoles.  Luigi's Mansion went from Gamecube (home console) to Luigi's Mansion 2 on 3DS (handheld) back to Luigi's Mansion 3 on Nintendo Switch (hybrid).  I'm not arguing that Nintendo treated the 3DS as a home console because they released the sequel of a home console game on it.  And, all video game systems have shovelware as a fact of life.  "Life of Black Tiger" is on both PS4 and mobile.



The Switcher 3 package has "play on an enormous world on the go" or something like that written on it. Some definitely treat it more as a portable unit, because the games seem more appealing like that.