During the last Nintendo Direct, it was announced that Doom would be coming to the Switch, releasing November 10th. While the prospect of Doom has many fans excited, it has also lead to some wild expectations and inferences of what this means for Nintendo’s portable console. Fans and potential developers are placing far too much value on—what is arguably simply a port—of an older title that can be brought to the latest and extremely successful Nintendo console to make a few bucks. By placing so much hope all on one title, many are setting themselves up for disappointment for a title that was never meant to represent so much.
It Doesn’t Represent 3rd Party Support
The first thing many jumped to when Doom was announced for the Switch was that the era of Nintendo getting shafted when it comes to third-party support has come to an end. Nintendo these past two generations have struggled to gain third-party support from AAA developers in any meaningful fashion. Every once in awhile a AAA third-party title would work its way across or would be a lesser version of a game featured on other consoles, either way, Nintendo consoles were missing out.
When fans saw Doom they thought, “its finally over.” Here is not only a big AAA developers and publisher bringing a game over but one so iconic as Doom in a state that doesn’t reduce or change what it is on other consoles. But, let’s be realistic, Doom doesn’t represent any of this. Doom is relatively speaking, an older title, it came out in 2016, with the Switch receiving it near the end of 2017 with a fair amount of graphical compromises.
Of course, this is expected considering what the Switch is, but it can’t simply be ignored. With such a heavy amount of compromises, it creates a timeline of obsolescence that we have seen far too frequently on Nintendo consoles. The Wii U when it first released saw much of the same thing. Popular titles that were ported over such as: Assassins Creed 3 & 4, Batman Arkham City, and Mass Effect 3 are just some that found themselves on the Wii U during its launch year. In the following years to come, the Wii U would see this 3rd party support fall off dramatically and partially lead to the sad history that is now the Wii U. Even though the Wii U could support the titles computationally, it would be a short run as it fell farther and farther behind with the introduction of Sony and Microsoft’s upcoming consoles.
Now, the Switch isn’t the same story as the Wii U, but it features one of the main problems the Wii U had as well, lack of power.
Power vs Portable
While fans may see the introduction of Doom to the platform as a sign of 3rd party support. I would argue developers are looking at this from a very different perspective, do consumers want power or portability? This was a similar question that was asked during the Wii U’s lifespan and the outcome of that was quite obvious, power won.
Personally, I made a compromise when I got my Wii U. I was going to play games that didn’t suffer too much power for the sake of portability, with my prime example being Assassins Creed 4. Assassins Creed games have never been really known for their performance (30 fps locked) so the ability to play Assassins Creed 4 in another room was a real benefit because the performance was tolerable. Eventually, though, the Wii U would reach a point where the gap was too big and I simply stopped purchasing them on Wii U.
Of course, 3rd party developers are not blameless, there were some really bad decisions on their part that lead to the 3rd party drought the Wii U saw. Having games come out severely late, missing DLC, and asking for the same price made Wii U owners simply not interested in purchasing them. It’s because of these past mistakes that developers shouldn’t look into Doom too much to find the answer to the question above. By making Doom a test case, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that is almost certainly going to be negative.
Doom was a title created before the Switch’s inception. While it looks like Bethesda has put in a lot of work to make it work well enough on the Switch, it still is fitting a square peg into a round hole. It was a game that didn’t consider the Switch existing and was designed with PS4, Xbox One, and PC in mind. Resulting in compromises in the game’s fidelity. Doom was also a title that came out more than a year ago, for those who own other consoles (and there is a lot of you), the prospect of buying Doom again, even if it is portable, isn’t exactly the most appealing. Arguably, those consumers have played a superior version, so does portability add enough of a benefit those consumers to purchase again? I would say no. There is also another factor that needs to be considered, online. The Switch’s online network is a bit of a mess and in need of large overhauls to bring it even close to the status of Playstation’s or Microsoft’s systems. There is a lot working against this title, so to make it the test case of the Switch’s viability or even deciding if consumers prefer power vs portability is going to generate a false conclusion and perhaps the same self-fulfilling prophecy that existed on the Wii U.
Both consumers and developers alike need to step back when viewing Doom being brought to the Switch. This isn’t the example of 3rd party support that many fans are hoping for. This also isn’t the test case that developers and publishers should be looking at to determine if consumers prefer power vs portability or if the Switch is viable product. We all need to recognize what Doom is, something far simpler. It is simply an opportunity for a developer and publisher to take advantage of the resounding success the Switch is seeing and make a few extra bucks. There is no depth to be found here, no other takes, just the same answer that all business have for their reason for doing…anything.
To make some money.