If you’d told me a year ago that both Bethesda and Rockstar would release games on Nintendo’s new console within its first year on the market, I’d have shaken my head in pity. Now, it’s just 6 months into the Switch’s lifespan and what was previously thought to be a far-fetched rumor is now a reality. L.A. Noire is officially coming to the Switch and is the first Rockstar game to come to a Nintendo platform since Grand theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the DS eight long years ago. In the meantime, Nintendo gamers missed out on Grand Theft Auto IV (and its expansions), Red Dead Redemption (and its expansions), the original release of L.A. Noire, Max Payne 3, GTA V, and GTA Online. Needless to say, gamers who’ve solely played within Nintendo’s ecosystem haven’t been feeling the Rockstar love.
So in the face of this sudden and unexpected support after so many years of nothing, let’s take a step back and assess the situation. Rockstar has only ever supported the Wii and the DS, Nintendo’s two best-selling consoles. In those cases, it was almost as if it would’ve been a bad business move for Rockstar to not support those systems. They had no problems skipping the GameCube and the Wii U, but the sales of the Wii and DS were so strong that it was obviously worth the effort of bringing games over.
Interestingly, though, the Wii had been out for a little over a year and a half before Bully: Scholarship Edition came to it, and the DS had been out for almost three years before Chinatown Wars. In that time both systems had been able to establish themselves as powerhouses in the market. The Switch, on the other hand, has only had half a year to prove that it’s worth porting to. One must wonder: Did Rockstar judge that the Switch would do well and preemptively start porting before it showed its market dominance? Or did they wait for a few months post-launch, see the response and were just able to port the game over quickly enough to release in parity with the other versions?
No matter the course of events, it’s obvious that Rockstar–or perhaps Take Two–has predicted that the Switch will be a success. So what does this mean for future Rockstar support? Well, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that they’re taking the EA “wait and see” approach. If L.A. Noire sells exceptionally well, they might consider further support. Does this mean Red Dead Redemption 2? Probably not. But could it mean a port of the original Red Dead Redemption, or even GTA V? Definitely. Similarly, if Skyrim sells well we’re more likely to see Fallout 4 than the next Elder Scrolls or Fallout 5. The Switch isn’t powerful enough to run the latest, most ambitious games (like Red Dead 2), but it does seem powerful enough to handle anything from the higher end of the last generation to the midrange of this generation.
In the end, gamers love the Switch for its build quality, convenience, stellar first-party exclusives and thriving indie scene. Unless there’s a mid-generation refresh, the Switch isn’t ever going to compete with the PS4 and or Xbox One S in terms of sheer power. However, that doesn’t mean that AAA third parties won’t make their way over to the console. If the Switch continues to sell, we’re sure to see the typical suite of sports titles and Call of Duty. And if Bethesda’s, Rockstar’s and even Suda51’s support is anything to go by, we might see a few pleasant surprises along the way. It certainly feels like a new era for Nintendo.