Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is one of the world's biggest games right now, attracting millions of players with its intense Battle Royale action. It's also exclusive to the PC and Xbox line of platforms at present, but that's going to change soon and the developers have stated that they want to bring it to as many systems as possible.
PUBG Corporation CEO Chang Han Kim is the one behind that particular comment, and many have cast doubt on whether the game could run properly on anything less powerful than an Xbox One X (a console on which PUBG doesn't exactly perform smoothly at the moment). The notion of Switch hosting the game was mocked by many, but an interesting development has occurred since then: PUBG has come to mobile devices in China.
As you might imagine, the mobile version is subject to some serious cutbacks in terms of visual complexity, but the core experience remains intact - and according to Digital Foundry, it could point the way for a potential Switch version:
The concept of a PUBG Switch port seemed highly unlikely based on the issues we've noted with the Xbox One and even X versions of the full-fat game, both of which seem to struggle with CPU-based limitations - an aspect that would only be amplified on Switch.
What we've seen of PUBG on mobile is a bit of a game-changer though and presents a route to viability for a potential Switch conversion. At the very least it demonstrates that in handheld play, graphical reductions can have a positive impact on making the gameplay work on a smaller screen - something that would be crucial for Nintendo's hardware. Secondly, while the CPUs in the likes of the Galaxy S8 and the Razer Phone are a generation or two ahead of Switch's ARM Cortex A57s (with significantly higher clocks to boot), Tencent's approach to scaling back PUBG does result in much less capable hardware managing a 100-player Battle Royale game with a performance level that is obviously higher than the Xbox One game in its most notorious trouble spots. It's not hard to believe that this approach could benefit the Switch too.
However, Digital Foundry also point out that the mobile version of PUBG has to run across a wide range of potential hardware configurations, while a Switch port would benefit from a fixed target platform - something which could lead to a superior port, albeit one that would require some additional work:
In terms of setting a graphical threshold for what a potential Switch version could deliver, this port probably isn't the best evidence. Although Nintendo's console is indeed based on a mobile chipset that has hosted the same OS, the conversion tested here has to run on an extraordinary diverse range of lower power devices, using an OS and graphics API that is notorious for under-delivering on the core hardware's potential. While aspects of the work here may prove helpful in helping to address problematic aspects such as the CPU question, Switch developers would have the advantages of targeting a fixed platform with a superb 'to the metal' development environment that has now proven itself many times over. Put simply, if PUBG does arrive on Nintendo's hardware, we should expect more than a straight port of the Android game - but from our perspective, a lot of thought would need to go into a different, more bespoke execution.
Of course, all of this is pure speculation but we already know that PUBG Corporation is mulling over its options for when Microsoft's console exclusivity period ends, and with Switch being such a hot ticket right now, it would be the perfect platform to port PUBG to. Perhaps this mobile version is simply the first step in that process?
Let us know what you think, and if you'd like some PUBG action on your Switch.