How to Port Games to Nintendo Switch: Insights and Tips

With around 61.5 million Nintendo Switches sitting in the hands of gamers around the world, it totally makes sense why game developers want to port their titles over to the platform. Gamers want the convenience of playing their favorite titles on a portable device, and developers want to boost their profits by porting games to Switch.

And while some ports are done well and appreciated by fans, others tend to not go over so well – leading to some seriously disappointed gamers.

Porting a PC game to the Nintendo Switch and turning a great game into a not-so-great one is not ideal for anyone involved. However, if you get it right, there are a lot of profits to be made. But for new game developers, it’s difficult to know how to get started. Sure, you could Google “how to port the game to Nintendo Switch”. Or you could keep reading this article in which we will answer the question: when porting a game to the Nintendo Switch, how can developers avoid making a mess of things?

But first, let’s explore some of the relevance, necessity, and benefits of porting games to the Switch.

Reasons for Porting Game to the Nintendo Switch

As mentioned before, with 61.5 million Nintendo Switch consoles in living rooms and bedrooms around the world, it’s no wonder that game developers are interested in learning “how to port the game to Nintendo switch” successfully. The Switch offers gamers a level of convenience that other consoles just can’t provide – being able to play console-quality games on the go is a major selling point for the Switch.

Another reason for Nintendo Switch game porting is rather obvious – money. By porting games over to the Switch, developers can tap into a new market of potential customers and make some serious profits.

However, there is one downside to Nintendo Switch porting that both gamers and developers need to be aware of – the limited hardware of the Switch means modern state-of-the-art games often need to be toned down to run smoothly on the Switch. This can often lead to a sub-par gaming experience that leaves fans feeling disappointed.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons for porting games to the Nintendo Switch, let’s look at how developers can avoid common pitfalls during the porting process.

5 tips when porting games to Switch

When porting games to the Nintendo Switch, developers need to be aware of the limited hardware of the device and how that might impact the game’s performance. To ensure the success of a Nintendo Switch porting project, the following factors need to be taken into account:

See the source image

1. GPU Optimization

The first step in ensuring a smooth port is to optimize the game’s graphics for the Switch’s GPU. The process of porting a game often includes reworking the game’s graphics and making sure that they are suitable for the Switch’s limited hardware.

See the source image

2. Memory Limits

Another important factor to consider when porting games to the Switch is the memory limits of the device. The Switch only has 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. This limits the size and scope of games that can be ported to the Switch successfully.

See the source image

3. Compatibility with Switch

When porting a console game to the Nintendo Switch, developers need to make sure that the game is compatible with the Switch’s hardware and software. The process of porting a game often includes making changes to the game’s code to ensure compatibility with the Switch.

See the source image

4. Engine and SDK updates

To ensure a smooth port, developers need to make sure that the game’s engine and SDK are up to date. Not doing so can result in several issues, including compatibility problems and performance issues.

See the source image

5. Game UX testing and assessment

Finally, it is important to test and assess the game’s UX during the porting process. Where necessary, developers may need to make changes to the game’s UI and UX in order to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for Switch users.

Porting games to Nintendo Switch: Hits and misses

If you want to know how to port a console game to Nintendo Switch and make it a hit, look no further than the port of Skyrim. Originally released in 2011 on XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3, it was ported to the Switch in 2017 and was an instant hit.

The port of Skyrim was well-received by fans and critics alike, with many praising the game’s performance on the Switch.

What made the port of Skyrim so successful was the fact that it was handled by a team of experienced developers who knew how to optimize the game for the Switch’s limited hardware. And the port of Skyrim was tested and assessed thoroughly, resulting in a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience for Switch users.

In contrast, the Nintendo Switch port of FIFA (2016) was not as well-received by fans of the franchise. Many gamers criticized the sub-par graphics and performance issues. A lot of the issues seem to stem from the fact that the developers did not optimize how to port a PC game to Nintendo Switch properly. Yes, the frame rate was good (60 fps) but due to the custom engine’s restrictions, certain features were removed from the Switch version of FIFA, including Pro Clubs and The Journey (FIFA’s story mode). The result was a lackluster port whose playability felt limited.

The developers of the FIFA port should have focused on optimizing the best part of the game, The Journey, for the Switch’s limited hardware. This way they might just have produced the holy grail of a portable football video game that looks great plays fantastically and you can take it anywhere!

The lesson to be learned here is that porting a game to the Nintendo Switch can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but if done correctly, it can result in a great game that takes advantage of the Switch’s unique features.

Final thoughts

Now that we’ve moved past Googling “how to port the game to Nintendo Switch” and learned a handful of tips and even investigated a case study of a Nintendo Switch port done well and one done poorly, we hope you feel more confident about the porting process.

Porting a game to the Nintendo Switch can be a daunting task, but with the right team and the right approach, it can be a great success. Just ask the developers of Skyrim!

Now, you might be asking yourself, how much does it cost to port a game to Nintendo Switch? Well, before you start Googling the “cost of porting the game to Nintendo Switch” we can tell you the answer: it depends. The cost of porting a game to Nintendo Switch will depend on several factors, including the size and scope of the project, the developers’ experience, and the game itself.