With Xbox Play Anywhere, Microsoft gives Xbox One and PC players the ability to game together online, and third-party releases like Fortnite have opened up the floodgates further by allowing cross-platform play between all consoles, PC, and mobile platforms. Nintendo allows cross-platform play for certain games on the Switch, but the company will not be offering the feature in its own first-party games.
Speaking at an investors meeting, new Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa expressed Nintendo’s willingness to continue working with third-party partners interested in cross-platform play, but shot down the chance of similar functionality coming to series like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros.
“That said, we have absolutely no plans to offer any Nintendo games as cross-platform titles at this time.”
Nintendo has often operated in ways that go against the industry standard — there’s no other way a tablet hybrid console could be made in 2018 — but expecting for the company to release its games on other systems is probably asking for too much. Nintendo’s biggest selling point is its games. Titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 can only be played on Nintendo Switch, encouraging players to buy the system. Sony does the exact same thing with its own exclusives, and Microsoft can largely getting away with offering cross-play support on its own games because it also controls the Windows ecosystem.
“Titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Odyssey are what we call ‘hardware drivers’ in that consumers are very often interested in buying these titles when making a new hardware purchase,” Furukawa said.
At the very least, Nintendo has offered some functionality between different versions of its games. Certain levels created in the Wii U version of Super Mario Maker could be played on the 3DS version, and Pokémon: Let’s Go will feature connectivity with Pokémon Go, allowing players to put their mobile monsters into the Switch version.
Nintendo’s strategy certainly seems to be working, as the Switch continues to sell well and the company has very bullish expectations for it this holiday season. With the hype surrounding Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however, it could very well meet them.
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