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How Hard Is It to Port Games to Nintendo Switch?

The Nintendo Switch is without a doubt a massive thing and has become one of the most popular gaming consoles in the world. While its success was expected, its sales figures never fail to amaze us. By far, the Nintendo Switch has sold over 100 million units since its launch, making it the fifth best-selling console of all time.

This hybrid console has changed gaming by allowing players to enjoy their favorite titles both at home and on the go. This means gaming continues and will continue to grow, and the need for porting games to different platforms like the Nintendo Switch becomes more important than ever. 

At Devoted Studios, we focus on making sure games run smoothly on the Nintendo Switch through our game porting service. So this time, we will walk you through the main challenges of porting to the Switch and our step-by-step process when we port games to Switch.

What Are the Common Challenges When Porting to Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo Switch porting can be tricky for several reasons. Here are some of the main issues most developers face:

  • Hardware Limitations: The Switch’s hardware is less powerful than other contemporary consoles like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. This requires developers to significantly optimize their games to make sure they run smoothly on the Switch. They often need to reduce the resolution, decrease texture quality, and simplify complex graphical effects.
  • Performance Optimization: To set out a game running at a stable frame rate on the Switch is not easy. Developers must carefully manage CPU, GPU, and memory resources, often rewriting significant parts of the game code to be more efficient.
  • Storage Constraints: The Switch’s game cartridges have limited storage capacity, and its internal storage is relatively small compared to other consoles. This forces developers to compress game assets and sometimes even exclude certain content or features to fit within these constraints when they want to port games to Switch.
  • Battery Life Considerations: As a portable console, the Switch's battery life is a crucial factor. Developers need to optimize their games to be less power-intensive, balancing performance and visual fidelity to extend playtime on a single charge.
  • Unique Features and Controls: The Switch’s hybrid nature and unique control options, including Joy-Con controllers, motion controls, and the touchscreen, require additional development effort to integrate these features seamlessly into games originally designed for traditional consoles.
  • Porting Older Games: Bringing older games to the Switch can be particularly challenging when developers want to port games to Switch, as it might involve updating outdated code, assets, and systems to be compatible with modern hardware and software standards of the Switch.

But despite these challenges, developers are motivated to port their games to Nintendo Switch due to its popularity and unique market position, which offers the potential for significant financial returns and reaching a broad audience of both hardcore and casual gamers.

Devoted Studios’ Porting Process

At Devoted Studios, we follow a clear and organized process to guarantee successful game porting to Nintendo Switch, and these are the breakdowns of our development stages:

Estimation (Review & Planning)

  • Code Access: We start by looking at the game’s code and trying to launch it on the Switch.
  • List of Planned Updates: We review any planned updates or changes to the game.
  • Platform Features Support: We check what platform-specific features need to be supported.
  • Additional Features or Content: We identify any new features or content the client wants.

Onboarding (Build Launch & Planning)

  • Getting Build Functioning: We launch the game on the Switch and set quality settings to ensure it runs at least to level one.
  • Removing Launch Blockers: We fix any issues that prevent the game from running.
  • Review of Initial Build Status: We evaluate the game’s performance and identify any blocked features.
  • Planning of Optimization and Development: We decide the order of optimizations and fixes.

Alpha (Blockers, Pass 1)

  • Optimization Pass 1: We make critical performance updates that can be applied to the whole game.
  • Removing Gameplay Blockers: We fix major gameplay issues that prevent further progress in the game.
  • Basic Platform Features Integration: We ensure essential platform features work correctly.
  • Initial TRC Check: We conduct initial checks for compliance with Nintendo’s technical requirements.

Beta (Features, Pass 2)

  • Optimization Pass 2: We apply specific optimizations to problem areas in the game.
  • Bug-Fixing: We resolve remaining critical and major bugs.
  • Platform Features Advanced Work: We ensure all platform-specific features work as intended.
  • Tuning of Game Functions and Gameplay: We adjust game functions based on feedback.
  • New Features Development: We develop any additional features required.

RC Candidate (Bug-Fixing, Tuning)

  • Bug-Fixing: We eliminate known bugs related to the porting process.
  • Tuning: We adjust game aspects according to client feedback.
  • Developers Side TRC Check: We perform a final check for compliance with technical requirements.
  • TRC Support (Optional): If needed, we provide additional builds to meet platform reviewers’ requirements.
  • Success Stories: Our Nintendo Switch Porting Case Studies

At Devoted Studios, we have successfully ported many games to Nintendo Switch

Here are some of our highlights:

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach

About the game:

Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach, a VR survival horror video game developed by Steel Wool Studio that lets players experience a chilling, high-stakes battle against animatronic horrors.

Devoted Role: Porting to Switch & Optimization for PS

Our team at Devoted Studios undertook the porting of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach to various consoles, including porting to Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One/X/S.

Our tasks involved optimizing performance and porting DLC content to ensure a seamless gaming experience across platforms.

Platform & Engines:
Devoted Achievements:
  • Achieving stable 30 FPS on Switch, using up to 1024 textures, and tuning Light and Shadows to provide quality gameplay.
  • Stabilizing performance on the past gen consoles (60 fps avg) while bringing in visual improvements to hit quality comparable with PC version Ultra settings.

Risk of Rain 2

Risk of Rain 2

About the game:

Risk of Rain 2 offers players an exhilarating cross-platform experience with intense gameplay, diverse environments, and strategic challenges.

Devoted Role: Co-dev & Porting to Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X|S

In our collaboration with Gearbox, we took the task of porting Risk of Rain 2 to various platforms. Our responsibilities included optimizing network performance for multiplayer compatibility and improving graphics across all game versions.

Platform & Engines:
Devoted Achievements:
  • We collaborated on development and ported Risk of Rain 2 to Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X|S.
  • Integrated all network features, including voice chat, matchmaking, and data transport.
  • Optimized rendering to enhance the game's performance across platforms.
  • Ensured seamless support for downloadable content (DLC).

Open Roads

Open Roads

About the game:

Open Roads follows a mother and daughter on a road trip adventure to explore a series of long-abandoned family properties, uncovering secrets of their past along the way.

Devoted Role: Tech Art and Lighting for Porting to Switch, Optimization Process for Switch, Lighting Setup and Baking, and Scene Dressing

Our role involves making sure game graphics and lighting work well on Nintendo Switch. This includes adjusting how light looks, making sure the game runs smoothly, and improving how environments look to enhance players’ experience.

Platform & Engines:
Devoted Achievements:
  • Creating an optimized tree system for the Nintendo port to achieve 30fps.
  • Relighting and post-processing the scene to enhance the overall experience and mood.

Porting games to the Nintendo Switch involves overcoming various challenges, from hardware limitations to compliance with Nintendo’s technical requirements. At Devoted Studios, we follow a structured approach to make sure each porting project is successful. Our technical expertise and experience in handling complex Nintendo Switch porting tasks have resulted in many successful projects.

We believe every game can unlock its full potential with our proven expertise in game porting. Discover how Devoted team expert team can seamlessly bring your game to the Nintendo Switch! 

Visit our Porting page to learn more about our services and how we can help bring your game to the Nintendo Switch.