Indies on the Nintendo Switch may end up consistently costing more than their PS4, Xbox One and PC ports, especially if the games in question release on a physical cart for the Switch. We discuss some of the reasons this is happening in an effort to put things into perspective.
As a Nintendo Switch owner I'm not too happy about paying a premium for games that are cheaper on other platforms. Take Rime, for example: the indie will be $30 on PS4, Xbox One and PC, and $40 on the Switch. This is presumably because Rime is getting a cartridge release on the Switch, but it's also getting a disc release on PS4 and Xbox One. We can only posit the cartridge is more expensive to make then a Blu-ray disc thanks to onboard flash media, but it'll also be up on the eShop too for the same price. I think the pricing decision goes deeper than this, though.
So why would an indie developer choose to price their game at a premium on the Switch? Wouldn't you want to price it fairly as to sell a bunch of copies? Here are a few reasons why I think indie devs are taking this premium-priced approach.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild feels alive in no small part thanks to its array of humorous, lovable, and extremely cute NPCs.
Breath of the Wild isn't just a beautiful game filled with enchanting majesty and fantasy: it's also filled with whimsy, charm, and heart-warming characters. As the first true open-world game in the series, I thought perhaps the whimsical elements would be put on the back burner. Boy was I wrong: the NPCs are absolutely amazing and go massive lengths to make the world of Hyrule feel alive. Everyone you meet in the game leaves an impression and adds a very real sense of agency to the world itself.
I'll be the first to admit I've barely scratched the surface of the game, but I wanted to share some of the quirky NPCs and how they've made me smile throughout my journeys.
Xbox division head Phil Spencer has said he wants to reveal Microsoft's high-end Project Scorpio console before E3 2017 in June, and now we have the first storefront listing opening up on the MS Store. This means we could see a special Xbox event being held sometime in April or May ahead of E3, with Microsoft focusing solely on Project Scorpio and Xbox games during the June showcase. Of course there's no price tag on the Project Scorpio pre-order listing, but it does indicate a reveal is on the way.
Microsoft has confirmed that Project Scorpio's 6TFLOPs GPU will enable native 4K gaming, which will make it the world's most powerful games console. Although the system will outright eclipse the Xbox One and Xbox One S models, it will be fully compatible with all Xbox games accessories and likely feature 4K HDR and 1080p 60FPS+ enhancements for existing first-party Xbox titles. As for the exact hardware, we know Project Scorpio will rock an 8-core CPU, likely built on AMD's advanced new Ryzen CPU architecture complimented with a scaled Polaris GPU on the same 14nm SoC.
The Nintendo Switch isn't perfect, and like any other system, it can corrupt saved games data. Since the Switch doesn't have any means to backup or migrate saved games (yet), if your data gets corrupted you could lose all your Zelda: Breath of the Wild saves. Fortunately for us, this didn't happen. Here is our experience with corrupted saved data on the Switch.
First of let me say that we were apparently quite lucky with our experience with corrupted saved data. We didn't lose any of our saved games for any of our games--even the game that was affected by the corrupted data. Here's what happened.
When I fired up Specter of Torment yesterday afternoon, I got an error message and the game crashed. The console told me my saved data could be corrupted. After spending quite a lot of time on Breath of the Wild the possibility of losing everything was extremely daunting.
The Nintendo Switch handheld-console hybrid is meant to be a dedicated games device, not facilitate media apps and other forms of entertainment. But at the same time, ancillary features would be nice, and if it's truly a "home console first and foremost," the Switch would do well to have certain concessions like Hulu and Netflix video streaming. And it will--in time.
Nintendo America President Reggie Fils-Aime recently confirmed that Nintendo is negotiating with other companies like Neftlix, Hulu, and Amazon to bring their respective media-streaming apps to the Switch. But those apps will come in "due time," and app support isn't a priority for Nintendo. Games absolutely come first.
"We built the Nintendo Switch to be a world-class gaming device, meaning we want you first and foremost to play games on the system and have an incredibly fun experience," Fils-Aime said in a recent interview with The Washington Post. "We're talking to a range of companies about other services, companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon - things that will come in time. In our view, these are not differentiators. What differentiates us is the way you play with the Nintendo Switch and what you can play. And that will continue to be our focus into the future as we continue driving this platform."
NVIDIA is ramping up the marketing engine for Mass Effect Andromeda, with the full details on the PC graphics options revealed.
Mass Effect Andromeda will have 16 different graphics knobs to tweak, with a few of them including multiple detail levels: Ambient Occlusion, Anti-Aliasing, Chromatic Aberration, Effects Quality, Film Grain, Lighting Quality, Mesh Quality, Post-Process Effect Quality, Resolution Scaling, Shader Quality, Shadow Quality, Terrain Quality, Texture Filtering Quality, Texture Quality, and Vegetation Quality.
NVIDIA also revealed the PC requirements for playing the game smoothly at 720p and 1080p:
Mass Effect: Andromeda Minimum System Requirements For 1280×720
- CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 or AMD FX 6350
- GPU: GeForce GTX 660
- RAM: 8GB
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
- HDD: 55GB free space
- DirectX: Version 11
Mass Effect: Andromeda Recommended System Requirements For 1920×1080
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4790 or AMD FX 8350
- GPU: GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, or GeForce GTX 970
- RAM: 16GB
- OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (64-bit versions)
- HDD: 55GB free space
- DirectX: Version 11
With tomorrow's firmware update, Sony's new 4K-ready PlayStation 4 Pro will see tighter frame rates across the board in select PS4 games.
Sony today announced that System Firmware Update 4.50 will release tomorrow, bringing the PS4 Pro's coveted Boost Mode. Sony is careful to explain that Boost Mode won't affect all legacy PS4 games that haven't been patched with PS4 Pro Forward Compatibility updates, and only a select few will be compatible with the enhanced mode.
Boost Mode will affect PS4 games with variable frame rates the most by affording higher frame rates, and games with specific locks will maintain a more fluid and consistent frame rate cap. For example, Bloodborne won't magically be patched to run at 1080p 60FPS on the PS4 Pro, but the game will maintain 30FPS more solidly with Boost Mode activated.
Last month Square Enix showed off some new screenshots for Final Fantasy VII: Remake that led some to believe the battle system would have an command mode of sorts; however, game director Tetsuya Nomura has stepped in to clear things up.
As we previously reported, Nomura affirms that Final Fantasy VII: Remake's combat will be entirely action-based--likely similar to Final Fantasy Type-O and Final Fantasy XV--and not follow the same turn-based mechanics of the immortal RPG classic.
The confusion started when a screenshot showed Cloud ducking behind cover which led some gamers to believe certain instances of battle sequences would be command-based or scripted QTE-style events rather than freeform seamless action. This isn't so: Nomura confirms that things like taking cover will be optional, and only be available in certain environments.
"Because there was an imperfection in the interpretation of an interview we did at the site [of MAGIC 2017], I will explain here. Battles are not command-based, they're action-based. Regarding cover actions, there are places where they can be done on the map, but they are not required. Because it's seamless, I showed that there can be actions in response to various scenes," Nomura said in a recent interview with Weekly Famitsu (via Gematsu).
The new screenshots also showed an ATB Gauge that will be used in the real-time action combat. Remember that the Final Fantasy VII: Remake won't use the original's Active Time Battle system, so the ATB Gauge will be used differently. We think it will be used as a unique combo finisher attack for each character.
The dev goes on to say that Final Fantasy VII: Remake's first boss battle with the Guard Scorpion will be rather flashy and chaotic--and we guessed as much from the awesome screenshot.
"The Guard Scorpion battle has map destruction and a great number of attacks that weren't in the original, so it has become a significantly flashy battle. If you look closely, I think that you can see that there are a number of missiles are coming down."
No one knows when Final Fantasy VII: Remake's first chapter will ship, not even Nomura.
"We're steadily progressing on production. While we are making them, I apologize that the wait will be be a bit longer for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake. I am very sorry, but to that degree I will make a game that will meet your expectations," Nomura said in a recent issue of Japanese games magazine Famitsu.
"Last year, I didn't put out much information on either title, but this year I want to show our progress at an event somewhere. The release of the titles themselves have still have a way to go. But there are many titles releasing this year, if you can wait for any 'surprises.'"
The remake will be split into three different chapters of about 30 hours apiece, totalling a 90-hour multi-volume chronicle.
Interestingly enough, it appears the Remake could span multiple generations of consoles, and if it does, the devs want to leverage the full power of the then-current system. This means the Remake may not be entirely consistent in terms of performance, graphics, and even vision, which could breed a new kind of game release altogether.
Warner Bros Games and Monolith Productions just dropped the first-ever gameplay footage for Middle-earth Shadow of War, and have a strong feeling tactical gamers are going to love it.
Shadow of War is a direct sequel to Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor, and this time around players will actually get to make their own orc army while wielding enhanced new powers. The gameplay footage is showcased on an Xbox One console, and highlights all the different combinations of powers and clever experimentation needed to strategically annihilate your foes. In a way it reminds me of Lord of the Rings chess--only in a massively dynamic open-scale third-person environment.
Of course you're not just leading an army, but slicing and dicing enemies on-foot with your new orc allies. The Nemesis system is where the game really shines: it's been pushed to a next-gen level, featuring advanced AI that will react to your in-game choices even more than before.
Nintendo has changed. With its new Switch handheld-console hybrid, the Japanese console-maker of yore has done away with clandestine business models and embraced the future. Nintendo is actively courting game developers of all kinds to ensure the Switch has a massively growing and steadily flowing games library, and indie devs are a big part of that push.
The way Nintendo sees indies is similar to how Sony strategically uses them as bite-sized snacks via PS Plus to tide gamers over in between big releases. Nintendo will do the same, but it's planning to actually match Sony's commitment, and eclipse Microsoft's ID@Xbox altogether. In fact, Nintendo's head of publisher and developer relations Damon Baker, if an indie game is on Steam, it should be coming to the Switch too. But Nintendo doesn't want to lock exclusivity like Microsoft--the Switch is a complimentary system.
"The way we're looking at Switch is this is a complementary platform. If it's on Steam, then there's no reason why it shouldn't be on Nintendo Switch as well," Baker told Games Industry.biz in a recent interview. "If you want to take that experience on the go, if you want to have a baked in multiplayer experience, this is the system to do it. It's got those points of differentiation, but we're not trying to go head-to-head against any of the other platforms. We just think that if the content makes sense to be over on our platform then it should be on our platform."
Nintendo currently has over 100 games in development from 80 developers, and about 60 indies on the way, including anticipated hits like Steamworld Dig 2, Yooka Laylee and Stardew Valley. But it doesn't stop there: Nintendo has actively courted indie publishers too, including Double Fine, 505 Games, Devolver Digital, Team 17, and many more.
"Steamworld Dig 2 is a sterling example of what Nintendo Switch was built for: amazing content that puts smiles on faces. Our teams have been working closely with independent publishers and developers to secure a constant flow of innovative content that showcases the fun of playing games," Baker said during Nintendo's recent Nindie's Showcase.
Some of the games highlighted in the Nintendo Switch Nindies reveal are:
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- What the Nindies Are All About
- The Escapists 2
- Kingdom Two Crowns
- Runner 3
- Blaster Master Zero
- Flipping Death
- Graceful Explosion Machine
- Mr. Shifty
- Shakedown: Hawaii
- Pocket Rumble
- Stardew Valley
Baker affirms that Nintendo will keep the flow consistent rather that "opening the floodgates," meaning gamers will get a more regular offering of indie games versus a massive catalog to sift through. This will allow developers to get proper visibility and maintain a steady staggering of content--a lesson that Nintendo learned the hard way with the Wii U.
And indie developers love this idea.
"I'll want it to be curated somehow because I don't want to be stuck - that's the problem with Steam right now because I feel like I'm just shovelware. It doesn't matter if there are so many users on Steam, because if you can't reach any of them with all the noise [in the marketplace] it doesn't matter. It's much better to get out on a platform where you can be seen," Zoink CEO and creative director Klaus Lyngeled told Games Industry.biz in the same interview.
All in all I think this is absolutely great for the platform, and will help Nintendo facilitate a strong library of innovative, quirky, and fun titles that compliment its big-budget first-party titles and heavy-hitter third-party ports.
The Nintendo Switch is now available, and keep an eye out for more coverage in the coming weeks. We'll also have our Nintendo Switch review up soon, but for now check out our massive Switch content catalog to catch up with all the latest news.