Unless you’ve been living on a deserted island for the past four years (hey, lucky you — wish you’d stayed there now, right?), it’s hard to miss how Switch has taken Nintendo back to the sort of mainstream success is achieved with the Wii two console generations ago. Wii U might have bombed commercially (although it had a pretty spectacular library of games), but its hybrid successor has put Nintendo back on top, attracting the most talented developers and the biggest names in the industry to put games on the console.
However, there remain some famous franchises and luminary studios that haven’t come to Switch yet. No, we’re not talking about ports from PC developers or mobile gaming giants bringing unlikely ports of their world-conquering MOBAs and clickers; rather, devs and publishers with a storied console history — which includes Nintendo systems — that haven’t showed up to the Switch party for some reason.
It’s a little odd when you consider how Nintendo attracted all sorts of third-parties during the Wii and DS era, even when it meant creating bespoke, lower-speced versions of tentpole games. Switch is keeping pace with Wii sales at the same point in its lifetime, but there are still some huge hold-outs. We’re talking titans of the gaming world — some of the most profitable franchises in the history of the medium.
Perhaps publishers got stung by Wii U and missed the boat this time. Maybe they simply don’t see the benefit of investing in Switch while they’re raking in billions elsewhere. Perhaps they don’t believe Switch players buy the types of games they produce…
Regardless of the reasons, we’ve picked out a half-dozen world renowned franchises that are not to be found on Nintendo’s latest console. You can let us know in the poll at the very bottom which ones you’d most like to see on Switch.
Metal Gear Solid
We’d forgive you for thinking of Metal Gear primarily as a ‘Sony’ series thanks to the influence of the iconic Metal Gear Solid when it launched on PlayStation in 1998. However, the Konami-owned, Hideo Kojima-helmed stealth series has featured on multiple Nintendo platforms over the years, including the Game Boy Color, the 3DS and Wii (if you count Virtual Console releases with that last one). Metal Gear Solid itself was ported to GameCube in the form of The Twin Snakes and the very first game in the Metal Gear series came to the NES following its MSX2 debut. The mainline series may have set up camp elsewhere, but Nintendo gamers have had some splendid times with Snake, even if they’ve missed some of the big ‘uns.
So how come Snake’s not on Switch yet? Well, let’s not forget that he is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — he even has his own amiibo!
Still, the Metal Gear series is otherwise a curious no-show on Switch. While there has been a question mark over the future direction of the series ever since series creator Kojima and and the IP owners parted ways in 2015 (as did many key team members who left to work with him on Death Stranding at Kojima Productions), Konami has apparently been taking its time deciding how best to proceed with the series without its creator and original staff onboard.
To our minds, that sounds like the perfect time for a Switch port or two of older series entries, but there’s no guessing with Konami. For every solid gold retro release they put out a turkey or a licenced pachinko machine, so it’s tough to say what’s on the cards.
We do miss sneaking around with Snake, though. There are plenty of other stealth games on Switch, but Metal Gear is still top dog when it comes to tactical espionage action. Do us a Solid, Konami — you’ve kept us waiting long enough, no?
Call of Duty
Activision’s cinematic first-person shooter series has appeared on Nintendo consoles in some form since 2004 with Call of Duty: Finest Hour on GameCube, which arrived just a year after the Call of Duty franchise first locked and loaded. GameCube also hosted Big Red One before we saw versions of Call of Duty 3, Modern Warfare, Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 on Wii. Then there were the numerous DS ports and spin-offs, too.
While the Nintendo ports — often running on more modest hardware compared to rival platforms — could never be considered the ‘premier’ versions, the fact that Activision supported those systems said something about their commitment to Nintendo’s audience and the importance it placed on the platforms.
So why have they gone AWOL on Switch, despite putting not one but two ports on Wii U in the forms of Black Ops II and Ghosts? Well, getting stung by those last two thanks to the Wii U’s low install base could be a factor — you get the impression that Activision might be employing the same brand of reactionary decision-making plaguing EA these days.
Perhaps the real reason lies in how games like Minecraft and Fortnite have shifted the PlayStation and Xbox demographics younger than they were in the Wii and DS days. Where Activision may have previously viewed Nintendo versions as worthwhile investments on platforms that historically attracted younger gamers — to hook them on the franchise before they graduated to one of the meatier, ‘grown-up’ consoles — these days the audience has shifted and they can win those young hearts and minds without leaving Sony and Microsoft’s ecosystems. Everyone’s a winner.
Except Switch gamers who don’t own another console, that is. It’s taken some time, but Switch has amassed a quality library of first-person shooters over the last four years. Realistically, we’re not expecting a Switch port of Warzone or a downgraded version of the next instalment, but we’d still relish the opportunity to enlist with Captain Price again, though.
Never mind that Lara Croft debuted on the Sega Saturn — much like Metal Gear, the impact of Core Design’s Tomb Raider on PlayStation back in 1996 made it seem that Lara belonged to Sony’s stable of stars. Again, the fact is that Tomb Raider games have been landing on Nintendo systems ever since Tomb Raider on the Game Boy Color in 2000, and there was even a Nintendo 64 port in the works until Sony signed an exclusivity deal and tied Lara to PlayStation until the turn of the millennium.
We saw several games in the series though the GameCube / GBA and Wii / DS eras, although the Wii U received no Tomb Raiders of any kind. Crystal Dynamic’s trilogy of games — Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) — all came and went on other platforms, but Crystal Dynamics apparently didn’t want to do a half-hearted job with GamePad integration on Wii U.
Will we ever see Lara Croft on Switch? Well, that last trilogy of games was published by Square Enix, and that company can be a little all over the place sometimes. We have had winners like Octopath Traveler on Switch, plus a spate of Final Fantasy re-releases, so it’s not impossible Square could delve into its publishing back catalogue again.
The EA-published life sim series which spun out of Will Wright’s SimCity games, The Sims might seem all light-hearted and zany on the outside, but it’s a huge, huge deal in terms of popularity and profit. Starting in 2000, they’re up to number four right now, but there are a metric ton of spin-offs and alternate ports and versions attached to this IP.
The Maxis-developed series has appeared (in some form or other) on GameCube, Wii, GBA, DS and 3DS… but not Switch. The Sims 4 can be found on PS4 and Xbox One… but not Switch.
Why, you ask? Well, you see we mentioned EA up there? That’s most probably the reason. Despite being quick off the mark with support for Wii U (games like Mass Effect 3 and the excellent Need for Speed: Most Wanted U spring to mind), it appears that EA top brass were caught off guard with Switch and they’re stubbornly refusing to believe there would be any meaningful return on investment. No doubt they’ll jump onboard Nintendo’s next console, which will then tank, and the whole stupid cycle will repeat again.
With games like Burnout Paradise Remastered and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered, we have seen some belated efforts to court Switch gamers (Apex Legends will be with us soon, too), but it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for a company that throws out scraps (three ‘Legacy Editions’ of FIFA in a row) and expects you to be grateful.
Now, if we were able to play a solid port of The Sims 4 on Switch, and perhaps name one of our sims ‘Ernie Arts’, and maybe lock them in a room with no toilet, we might be prepared to forgive and forget. The ball’s in your court, EA.
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on DS was great, and the Game Boy Color received ports of both the original 2D Grand Theft Auto and its also-2D sequel, Grand Theft Auto 2; the latter, however, was the last time that a mainline GTA would come to a Nintendo console of any sort.
2004’s Grand Theft Auto Advance is the only other entry in the franchise Nintendo fans have got their hands on over the years, which is a shame because, love it or hate it, GTA is one of the medium’s defining franchises. We’d love to see it come to Switch in some form — if only an HD collection of some of the older entries (a dual pack of Vice City and San Andreas, for example, would be a very hot proposition). When you look at something as evidently scalable as GTA V — a game which started life on PS3 and Xbox 360 and has versions for PS5 and Xbox Series X scheduled for release by the end of the year — it’s disappointing that Rockstar hasn’t used a tiny fraction of its vast resources to assemble a version for Nintendo gamers. There must be dozens of Switches strewn across desks in Rockstar headquarters! Somebody, somewhere in-house must have toyed with the idea…
Unfortunately, the gargantuan financial success of GTA Online is probably the reason Rockstar can’t find the enthusiasm to bring GTA to Switch, whatever the form. We’ve still got our fingers crossed that Nintendo nostalgia might get the better of someone up the food chain at Rockstar, though.
While not half the money spinner some of these other franchises are, Namco’s quintessential arcade racer has a special place in our hearts and it’s the final series we’re desperate to see return in some fashion, and preferably to a Nintendo console. The series might have skipped Nintendo home systems after Ridge Racer 64 and spin-off R: Racing Evolution on the GameCube, but we also got entries on the DS and 3DS.
Arguably, Ridge Racer is yet another one of those ‘hang on, isn’t that a PlayStation series?’ games, but we don’t see any reason why Bandai Namco (best buds with Nintendo these days, remember) couldn’t bring Reiko Nagase and her fleet of uber-shiny cars to Switch and add a dash of RR’s trademark drifting and slick presentation to Switch’s growing garage of racing games. The last entry to come to consoles was 2012’s Ridge Racer Unbounded, so the series is due a revival.
There are other huge video game properties we could name which aren’t on Switch either, although the absence of games like Warcraft or incredibly popular MOBAs like League of Legends is less conspicuous because they haven’t traditionally occupied the console space.
Let us know below which of the hold-outs above you’d like to see on Switch, and of course any others you’d like to play on-the-go on your favourite handheld.