Over 30 million people have played “Overwatch,” the excellent team-based shooter from the folks behind such massive blockbusters as “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo,” and “StarCraft.”
The game’s colourful, enormously fun, and ridiculously addictive — the perfect “one more match” game.
Part of what makes “Overwatch” so good is how accessible it is. Not only are there a couple dozen unique characters to choose from, but it’s available on pretty much every major gaming platform. You can play it on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac.
You might notice that list is missing one tremendously important console maker: Nintendo.
Even though Nintendo’s Switch, seen above, is a brand-new home game console, it’s not powerful enough to run “Overwatch” — a game that debuted in May 2016. What gives?
“Right now there are some technical challenges,” Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan told me in a recent interview. “The tech specs [on Switch] aren’t quite there. It would be a non-trivial undertaking for us to make the game on Switch.”
Indeed, the Switch isn’t touted as an especially powerful console. While many games look beautiful and run smoothly on the Switch, it’s still not as powerful as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — consoles that debuted way back in 2013. And that makes it hard for developers like Blizzard to publish games on the Switch; in so many words, “Overwatch” on the Switch would be a completely unique version of the game. It would almost certainly be less pretty, and potentially run less smoothly, due to the Switch’s hardware.
That said, Kaplan noted that there’s certainly interest in such a version of “Overwatch” internally at his studio. “We’re huge Nintendo fans,” Kaplan told me. “We would absolutely love to see the game on something like Switch, it’s just not feasible currently.”
What would it take to get “Overwatch” running on the Switch? The answer is almost certainly “more power,” and that’s a possibility in the not-so-distant future.
“These companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, they’re so good about working with developers. And they evolve their technology over time,” he said. Consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft’s still-unreleased “Project Scorpio” Xbox One, for instance, add horsepower to the existing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms (respectively). Nintendo’s notorious for doing this as well — there are over a half-dozen versions of Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, for instance. The latest versions are more powerful than the original version.
“One of Nintendo’s most successful platforms is 3DS,” Kaplan said. “And watch how many times they upgraded that over time. You don’t want to snap judge, you want to have the conversation, because we don’t know what’s in the plans. We want to understand what their plans are, because just because something might not be feasible now doesn’t mean that at some point in the future it might be an option for us.”
So, while it’s not likely that “Overwatch” will head to the Nintendo Switch at any point soon, it could very well end up on Nintendo’s marquee console in a potential future iteration of the Switch — if it’s more powerful.
More from Ben Gilbert:
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