Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In today's article, editor Dom argues that Monster Hunter World needed to leave Nintendo behind to make a different success of itself, but that the wider series shouldn't abandon Ninty hardware forever.
It’s a bittersweet feeling seeing a franchise that’s become to intrinsically associated with Nintendo achieve genuine success on other platforms, but nonetheless we’re chuffed to see Monster Hunter World riding high in charts and selling so well on PS4 and Xbox One. Capcom’s latest incarnation might not be perfect - an obtuse matchmaking system and a deep array of subsystems that aren’t exactly rookie-friendly being the two biggest issues - but it’s still a fine sequel.
As harsh as the reality is to accept, Capcom’s long-running series needed to make the transition to home consoles, and for that to happen it had to embrace the sheer processing power and larger install bases of PS4 and Xbox One (and consciously not include Switch in that lineup). It’s been almost 10 years since the series last had an outing on a current-gen home console relevant to its era, and the move to more powerful hardware brings with it an experience with more flesh on its bones and an audience filled substantially with players who have never played the series before.
It's proved to be a shrewd move, even if it stings a little from a Nintendo perspective. It’s landed at the top spot in the UK charts with some robust sales following its launch last week, and has reportedly shifted a whole 5 million units worldwide in retail and digital formats (an impressive feat when you consider it came out on Friday and doesn’t include the PC version slated for later in the year).
The move away from the relative confines and limitations of Nintendo’s handhelds (and they were limitations, however cold that might sound, both in terms of technical power and the size of the audience) has paid dividends for Capcom with reports its share price has soared by 4.9% - the highest its been in 17 years. You can hardly argue with figures like that.
So, we know the decision to take Monster Hunter World to other platforms was the right one for this particular version, but that doesn’t mean the series should see its time with Nintendo as a closed chapter. Whether new players or critics acknowledge it not, Monster Hunter World owes much of its winning formula to the way the franchise was honed and perfected on 3DS (and on PSP, lest we forget). In fact, considering how regressive and convoluted matchmaking feels as of launch, there’s an argument that multiplayer was comparatively easier in handheld form.
When the series debuted back on PS2 in 2004 it wasn’t a big seller, and it took the transition to PSP for the series to break away from the then-unperfected world of online gaming and focus on the power of local multiplayer for it to really take off. Of course, it’s always been a Japanese phenomenon (handhelds have traditionally been bigger in Japan), but its shift onto 3DS and the run of exclusive titles (including and ultimately concluding in the west with the excellent Monster Hunter Generations) refined its myriad systems while keeping that squad-based hunting at the centre of its formula.
I hate to say this, but we’re never going to see Monster Hunter World on Nintendo Switch. I know you all want it - I want it, too - but there’s simply no way Capcom could fit that entire experience onto Nintendo’s plucky little handheld without making one too many concessions that would ultimately rob the magic that’s made it such a success on other platforms. The answer here isn’t the need for a port of this particular game, but a Monster Hunter sub-series all Switch’s own.
The first option would be for Capcom to finally release a localised version of Monster Hunter XX in the west. It made its debut on Japanese Nintendo Switches back in August 2017, but the port from 3DS failed to meet sales expectations (with a sell-through of less than 50% of its initial shipment, and less than 100,000 copies sold after its first week). Capcom certainly had high expectations for the series when it hit Switch, but considering it came a mere five months after the 3DS version, it was never going to sell as much as a Switch exclusive.
The success of Monster Hunter World is the west could convince Capcom to bring the instalment overseas and simply skip 3DS altogether in terms of a port. It would certainly be the most inexpensive route for riding the renaissance of the brand and a great way to finally bring a tried-and-tested formula to a console as popular as Nintendo Switch.
The other route is to give Switch - and its fast growing audience - a Monster Hunter of their own. It’s perhaps the less likely option at this stage - Capcom isn’t one to blow money on spin-offs when it can make a quick buck by re-releasing classic entries, a la Resident Evil on PS4/XO - but it’s the kind of thing the publisher should be considering now that Monster Hunter has attained modern day triple-A status.
Nintendo helped keep Monster Hunter alive, kicking and relevant during its handheld years. Let’s hope those halcyon days haven’t been hunted into extinction by the success of Monster Hunter World on home consoles.
So that's Dom's take on Monster Hunter World and the franchise's relationship with Nintendo going forward. Do you think Nintendo Switch deserves a Monster Hunter entry in the west? Let us know what you think below. You can also check out Alex's latest video on the official Nintendo Life YouTube channel. Huzzah!