The Wall Street Journal Tech Live event was a lively event for Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who made clear that Microsoft has lofty ambitions to break into the mobile and on-the-go gaming markets.
In an interview at the conference, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming spoke about the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, stating that he will be calling Call of Duty on Nintendo Switch (via Tom Warren of The Verge (opens in new tab)).
Spencer stated that one of the main reasons Microsoft wanted to acquire Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard is to tap into the mobile games scene. Call of Duty: Mobile is still going strong as of a fiscal position (opens in new tab)so it makes sense that Spencer is inspired to take it one step further by porting CoD games to the Switch and expanding business in the portable gaming sector.
But is it even possible for one of the biggest FPS franchises to function well on the Switch, given its significantly weaker engine?
Truly modern warfare
Call of Duty has long dominated the FPS scene. With 17 titles under its belt, the first-person shooter series has been praised for its sharp graphics, complex firefights, expansive maps and excellent co-op capabilities.
While these factors have cemented Call of Duty’s place as one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time, they could pose problems for the Nintendo Switch. It’s unlikely that a Switch port can maintain the standards that high.
This is not a Call of Duty exclusive issue. Time and again we’ve seen ports of popular console and PC titles crash and burn on the Nintendo Switch. The Ugly Ugly Ark: Survival Evolved Gatewas so bad it needed a total overhaul, and wrestling simulator WWE 2K18 never quite made a comeback after the Switch release was plagued with game-breaking bugs.
Shenanigans the size of a byte
Another major risk of porting a game to the Switch is that the Nintendo console just isn’t built to handle games of this size. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2the latest entry in the Call of Duty series, weighs over 100GB on PS5, what a enormous jump compared to the average size of 8-10 GB occupied by a Switch game.
Even games made for the platform tend to struggle; Bayonetta 3 weighs in at a modest 15GB and starts to puff up thanks to the device’s slower loading speed, in this case largely due to the fast and frenetic on-screen action.
If the humble Switch can’t handle his own games, how is he supposed to handle the demands of CoD’s heavy IW engine?
Hope on the horizon
That said, it’s been done before. One of the most successful PlayStation to Switch ports, Alien: Isolation, went from 8.2GB of space on the PlayStation 3 to more than doubling the size for the Switch port, and it worked like a charm.
Perhaps there’s hope for a solid CoD offering for the Switch, if, much like what was done for Call of Duty: Mobile, a brand new game is made with the Switch device itself in mind.
This will no doubt take time and money to develop, but if Spencer and Microsoft are serious about bringing the FPS heavyweight to portable devices, they may want to leverage the strengths of the Nintendo console rather than expect it to keep pace. stick with next-gen consoles and spare Microsoft the potential embarrassment.