The prospect of a Nintendo Switch Game Pass has been and continues to be one of the biggest rumours in gaming right now with a recent livestream with Xbox’s Phil Spencer reigniting them once more. There were a number of items on the shelf behind Spencer, all of which are said to have some ‘meaning.’ One of those items was a Nintendo Switch and now Game Pass on Nintendo Switch is right in the headlights of many looking on once more.
Realistic or Pure Fantasy? Nintendo Switch Game Pass Rumours Persist
The question of whether Game Pass coming to Nintendo Switch is realistic is easy to answer. Of course it is realistic as is anything in the world of gaming. Gaming history teaches us that without Nintendo the Sony PlayStation might never have come into being so Microsoft and Nintendo strengthening an already blossoming relationship is far from fantasy and makes a lot of sense.
The Arguments Against Game Pass Coming to Switch
Phil Spencer in October of 2020 dampened spirits of anyone wanting to see the subscription service come to Nintendo’s hugely popular hybrid console when he told GameReactor;
“I love the Switch, I love PlayStation, honestly, I think they’ve done an amazing job as being a part of this industry. I’m not sure that those are the next big set of users for us, but we could be open to those discussions.”
Game Pass is already available on Android devices and PC and is coming to ios imminently so Microsoft have their service available to a huge amount of gamers and with SMART TV access being mooted as well it isn’t hard to argue that Microsoft don’t need to have the service elsewhere.
Spencer has always been keen to say that PlayStation and Switch owners are not really interested in having the full Xbox experience but has hinted at Xcloud being a possibility and Switch is no stranger to cloud gaming with both Control and Hitman 3 arriving on the system via cloud gaming. Neither game has been overly well received but they do demonstrate that cloud gaming can work to a degree on Switch as long as you have a strong connection for the games to run well.
What Would Microsoft Gain?
As the Game Pass continues to be a huge success with over 18 million subscribers as of January 2021 what would they actually gain by bringing the service to Nintendo’s system?
There are a couple of things to consider here. The simplest one being it will gain even more subscribers and with Switch almost certainly heading to over 100 million owners, Xbox could easily double that client base very quickly and with very little effort. That has to be a huge plus for Microsoft.
Yet if this did happen it is also likely that Xbox will not be seeing Nintendo offering any favours in return and by that I mean that Nintendo first party games are not going to be coming to Xbox. Nintendo is massively protective of its IP so Super Mario and Zelda are not likely to be played by the Xbox community on an Xbox system.
The Arguments For a Nintendo Game Pass Service
To start with Nintendo, for them Game Pass would be a way to further increase sales of their already successful Switch system. Right now if you want to play Xcloud or remote play Game Pass games you will need to do so via a phone or tablet. Via tablet, Xcloud and Game Pass are okay but right now they are running via Xbox One S architecture which is the least powerful of the their last generation of consoles and on tablet things will get blurry every now and again and its just not the same as playing via a dedicated handheld system.
On a phone things are actually a touch better because even though you are still only getting 720p, the smaller screen size makes that less obvious and in general things run quite well. The major issue with playing on a phone is that you are still getting notifications, text messages, alerts that are not what you want when you are trying to blast some demons in Doom or score that vital winner in FIFA 21 for example.
Put Game Pass on a Nintendo Switch on the other hand and you have a 7” screen which again runs at 720p but can be dedicated to playing your Game Pass games in your hand and with no interruptions. Making use of joy cons means you can have the luxury of multiplayer on the go as well and suddenly the service looks an even more obvious choice for Switch.
Xbox and Japan Can Finally Become Better Acquainted
Japan is still considered the home of video gaming and it is one place that Microsoft and Xbox just seem incapable of cracking. Sega, Nintendo and Sony had been the main console makers and Microsoft still struggle to make their mark but Game Pass being on Nintendo Switch would change all of that.
Nintendo Switch is a worldwide smash hit and 2020 saw its highest sales in Japan since its launch in 2017. Whilst having Game Pass on the console would not guarantee players would download it, it would give Xbox a superb chance of being at least better recognised in Japan and potentially brings the Xbox brand to a massive install base that is still growing at a rate of knots. Add a potential Switch Pro into the equation later in 2021 and suddenly Nintendo and Microsoft being cosier than they already are looks to be an absolute no brainer for all concerned, but definitely for Microsoft.
The Last Word on Gaming Viewpoint
The rumour is not going away until someone finally says that, no this is not happening today or any day ever. The fact that no one is yet saying that just adds more fuel to the flames.
As a Switch owner since day one and now a Series S owner, this whole idea excites me greatly. Game Pass is in my opinion one of the best gamer friendly services there is. For £10.99 you have access to not only a large library of games but a library full of games of the highest quality going back to the original Xbox through to the present day. Banjo Kazooie is still a joy to play, Forza 4 is one of my favourite racing games of all time along with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well as GTAV, Doom Eternal and Outriders all available to download and grab without your wallet having to go in for surgery to repair it!
Of course some will argue, and I totally respect this argument, that download games, subscription services and the cloud are evil and will be the death of physical games but I disagree. Physical games still have an enormous market and I still buy physical games for my Switch and will continue to do so. If you want physical you can have it and I don’t see that changing any time soon so those fears I think can be fully allayed.
What is interesting is that should Game Pass come to Switch then an issue arises as to whether there will be an affect on eshop sales for Nintendo. I will be honest in that since I have had Game Pass I have spent less on games because I can play Octopath Traveller for example without spending any money and therefore I have not bought the game either digitally or physically for my beloved Switch. Once the game leaves Game Pass I likely will buy it because it is a great game.
But let’s says that the service arrives and gamers wanting a better handheld experience of Xbox gaming see Switch as the best way to play, and for me there is no argument that it would not be the best way to have that experience, Nintendo can shift a hell of a lot more consoles even though for them this is not a be all and end all deal.
Microsoft grow Game Pass and Xcloud even more and ultimately Xbox is all about Game Pass much more than it is about selling physical boxes and it is an approach that so far they are absolutely nailing. It is consumer friendly, it is easy to access and it offers quality and quantity in spades.
Do it! Nintendo and Microsoft are already friendly with Cuphead, the Ori games all coming to Switch so the relationship is very strong indeed and that is good for gamers.
Neither Microsoft nor Nintendo have anything to lose from a potential deal and if it ever went wrong they can both walk away with successful consoles and when little harm can be done but huge reach and impact can be had, this is one rumour that surely has to become reality and one that can open huge doors for gamers everywhere.
Get the contracts, sort the deals and sign the dotted lines Nintendo and Microsoft! Here’s to the future.
Last Word on Gaming will continue to follow this story and bring you all the news as it happens…well, IF it happens.