February 5, 2018 9:57 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Oceanhorn and Beach Buggy Racing, 2 decent games that started out on mobile devices, but soon found a home on Switch, like many other mobile games that have been ported in recent months, but what about Angry Birds? Farmville 2? Clash of Clans? These are huge titles on mobile devices and make money over fist like nobody’s business, but with the Switch being the high performer it is, is it time that these games made it over as well? 

This is the question we have been asking ourselves, our readers and even developers in recent weeks and the responses are a bit of a mixed bag. Most of you flat-out say no, whereas some of you are rather welcoming of the notion, depending on how they would be handled, so because we’re talking to developers about this, we wanted to run a big article that covered the issue three-fold. What the public thinks, what indie devs who have ported mobile games to Switch think and what the devs behind Angry Birds think. Despite a couple of emails, Rovio Entertainment, Supercell and a couple of others refused to take part, but that’s okay, because we still have the answers we got from Vector Unit and they’re more than enough for us:

 

 

In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about your history in the video games industry as far as mobile platforms go?

 

Matt Small: I’m Matt Small, CEO and Creative Director at Vector Unit.  Vector Unit is a 5 person game developer in Northern California.  I’ve been making games for over 20 years.  My partner Ralf Knoesel and I started Vector Unit in 2008, and initially we wanted to focus on console games, but in 2010 we made our first mobile game, Riptide GP.

 

 Thank you, and now with the introduction out of the way, we can properly commence with the interview.

 

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Porting to Switch:

Miketendo64: Now the purpose of this interview is get a better understanding of what goes into mobile games and bringing games to Nintendo Switch. So as someone who has brought mobile games to Nintendo’s latest platform, how did you find the process and have you found much demand for your smartphone ported titles?

Matt Small: We’ve brought two of our games over to Switch so far.  The first was our off-road kart racer, Beach Buggy Racing; after that we ported Riptide GP: Renegade, which is a futuristic jet-ski game.  Beach Buggy Racing started as a free to play mobile game, but then we created a premium paid version of the game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – that’s the version we ported to Switch.  Renegade came out more or less simultaneously on console and mobile, and was always a premium experience. 

I think one of the strengths of our studio, is we build very optimized games which are designed to run on a wide spectrum of hardware.  Beach Buggy Racing runs on everything from an iPhone 4 to a PlayStation 4 – so porting to the Switch was not so much a technical challenge as it was a question of trying to take advantage of the hardware, like the Joy-Con configurations, and really customizing the experience for Switch.

Miketendo64: Due to porting it them Switch, other than the usual antics of getting it running and bug proofing, how much work did you have to put into it, to make your games work as a Switch title?

Matt Small: We’ve brought two of our games over to Switch so far.  The first was our off-road kart racer, Beach Buggy Racing; after that we ported Riptide GP: Renegade, which is a futuristic jet-ski game.  Beach Buggy Racing started as a free to play mobile game, but then we created a premium paid version of the game for Playstation 4 and Xbox One – that’s the version we ported to Switch.  Renegade came out more or less simultaneously on console and mobile, and was always a premium experience. 

I think one of the strengths of our studio, is we build very optimized games which are designed to run on a wide spectrum of hardware.  Beach Buggy Racing runs on everything from an iPhone 4 to a PlayStation 4 – so porting to the Switch was not so much a technical challenge as it was a question of trying to take advantage of the hardware, like the Joy-Con configurations, and really customizing the experience for Switch.

 Image result for Beach buggy racing

Improving the eShop and Not Every game being “Deep Enough” for the Switch:

Miketendo64: Given your own personal experience, how would you feel it games like Farmville 2, Bubble Witch, Angry Birds and Clash of Clans was ported to the Nintendo Switch? Each game has been met with a considerable success and with a number of games already available, thanks to already being ported to the Switch, is this something you feel should be allowed to happen?

Matt Small: Well, ultimately the audience is going to have to decide what they want.  I feel like a lot of those games are optimized for very short mobile-gaming experiences, the kind of thing you can play quickly on the bus or waiting in line, and Switch gamers are looking for something a little bit deeper.  So I’m not sure every mobile game is a perfect fit for Switch.

I think it’s great that Nintendo has opened up the platform, and is allowing just about anyone to publish their games.  Players can choose which games they want to succeed.  However the eShop isn’t as well prepared for an open market as other platforms like the App Store or Steam.  There’s no review system, and there’s no way to really know if a game you’re about to buy is worth it.  They need to work on community, player feedback, and discoverability if they really want to be a successful open platform.

 

Premium Games on Switch:

Miketendo64: If the likes of Angry Birds, were given the chance to come to Switch, as Nintendo would need to approve it first, how would you think they would function? Same as they do already, i.e. free to download, with in-game/eShop purchases or do you feel this might have to be changed?

Matt Small: It’s really hard to say.  Premium games seem to be almost completely dead on mobile, which means basically everything is going free to play.  On Switch, like with consoles, premium games still work well.  I’d honestly be surprised if a game like Clash Royale would be successful on Switch, or on any console. 

 Image result for angry birds

The Unlikelihood of Supercell Bringing games to Switch

Miketendo64: Should Nintendo approve the decision to bring over the top-hitting premium games, let’s say for a second you are Supercell, the developer of Clash of Clans. With your game being the hit it is already, would porting your game to a Nintendo platform even be of any interest to you in the first place and something you’ll try to do?

Matt Small: I’d be very surprised if Supercell is interested in porting any of their games to Swtich.  Their business model depends on many, many players – like hundreds of millions of players — and none of the console markets are really big enough for them

 

App Stores Vs Switch (Publishing your Game & the palaver that follows):

Miketendo64: As someone who has ported what was once mobile games to the Nintendo Switch, what would be some of the issues you feel games like Angry Birds and Farmville 2, would be met with and if you were the developer behind them, is it something you’d try to port yourself, or get a reliable, yet experienced Switch publisher to do it for you?

Matt Small: I feel like most of those developers could probably handle the port themselves, although they may be shocked at the approvals and hoops you have to jump through to get certified.  On the app stores, you just hit a button and publish!

 

The Difference between the Switch and Mobile Device gamer:

Miketendo64: Well, since it is all well and good bringing a game to a new platform, if the likes of Bubble Witch and the rest did make it over, do you think there might be a market for them as a good percentage of Switch owners, are mobile phone gamers anyway?

Matt Small: That’s a good question.  I do think most gamers who own both are looking for 2 different experiences on the 2 different platforms.  On mobile they’re looking for something fun and quick, on console they’re looking for something fun and deeper.

 Image result for switch vs mobile phones

A Message for the Fans and Beach Buggy Racing 2 Being a Day 1 Release on Switch this Summer:

Miketendo64: Lastly, you have been absolutely terrific so thank you for taking the time to answer and is there anything you would like to say to your ever growing fanbase and supporters, or some Switch related news you might wish to share for 2018?

Matt Small: Thanks for asking me these questions!  One thing I should have mentioned is that although we have always been Nintendo fans, the Switch is the first Nintendo game platform that has been open enough for a small developer like us to self-publish on.  We’re just really excited to finally have our games on a Nintendo console! 

Right now we’re working on a sequel to our off-road kart racer, Beach Buggy Racing.  Our plan is to release a mobile free to play version, and a separate premium console version.  The console version will sim ship on Switch and other platforms, so we’ll be bringing it to Switch on day one.  Look for it in late summer!

 

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Matt, we had intended to make this interview, a much bigger piece than it wound up being, but you and your answers came through for us and for that we thank you. As for your team and yourself, best of luck with Beach Buggy Racing 2, we’re looking forwards to it!

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This post was written by Solid Jack

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