Nintendo Switch© Nintendo

By all accounts, the Nintendo Switch had an amazing 2019. Its sales momentum hasn't shown any signs of slowing and it has been blessed with some truly amazing video games. If you're a Switch owner, then you have plenty of reasons to be cheerful as we head into 2020 – but what about the people who make the games we play?

We asked a group of Switch developers for their opinion on the console in 2019, and the hopes they have for 2020.

Paul Bettner, Founder & CEO, Playful Studios

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Seems to me it’s been their best year yet. Fastest-selling console in history – surpassing 40 million units earlier this year, easily 60 million by year-end I’d imagine – launching the Switch Lite at $199, incredible new games with Zelda, Luigi, Mario Maker, Pokémon. Any of these by itself would be a lifetime achievement for most companies. For Nintendo, it’s just the natural outcome of their relentless courage. They know that video games can be even more fun, and even more accessible, for even more people. And they continue to lead our industry because they never lose sight of these goals.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

Working with Nintendo has been a dream come true for us. The Switch itself is a great piece of hardware. It is surprisingly powerful and easy to work with, and has great developer/engine support. Initially getting New Super Lucky’s Tale up and running on the Switch platform happened in just a few weeks. What we didn’t expect was that this would end up being the best-playing and best-looking Lucky game we’ve ever produced. Our partnership with Nintendo inspired the team to do their absolute best work. To bring Lucky and his friends to Nintendo players for the holidays (especially on Nintendo’s fastest-growing console) is, for many of us, the culmination of years of hopes and dreams.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Absolutely, 2020 and beyond. Our core mission – to build beloved entertainment the whole world can enjoy – is truly at home on Nintendo’s platforms, and our partnership has just gotten started. All of us at Playful very much look forward to our next Nintendo collaboration, and to continuing to build our relationship with the Nintendo gaming community.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

Personally, I’m looking forward to the continued evolution of the eShop. With the Switch, Nintendo has created one of the most compelling platforms for digital and downloadable content. The eShop is now the storefront for thousands of unique titles, with many more launching each week. I’m personally hoping for new ways to find and surface compelling content, so that as a gamer I can better discover interesting new games to play, and as a developer, we can reach even more players. Other than that, I’m hoping for more homes to become multi-Switch households! It’s such a great device to play with others, and I’m very excited about more multiplayer experiences coming to the Switch in 2020 and beyond.

New Super Lucky's Tale

Daley Johnson, Engagement Director, Playtonic Games

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Absolutely! A new Pokémon game and Luigi’s Mansion 3 coming out in the same year almost sounds like fan fiction. Nintendo are great at banging out top-quality titles packed with charm, and they really hammered that home this year. Super Mario Maker 2 came out as well, didn’t it? Piping hot line-up.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

We were really pleased to launch Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair on Switch on day 1 – and throughout development, we were incredibly excited about the fact. The fact the Switch offers docked and portable gameplay shouldn’t be understated; it’s awesome to know that people can play our game at home or on the move. Ignore your loved ones anywhere!

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

You’ll see. Nice try!

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

eShop music. Give us something kooky to listen to while we make questionable financial choices.

Tim Stoddard, Indie Game Developer, Gamepopper

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

I believe so! Nintendo themselves had a really good run on the console, plus a lot of really good indie and niche titles have found life on the system.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

Gemstone Keeper was only released on the Nintendo Switch less than a month ago, but so far it's already doing better than it did on Steam previously. The sales for the first few weeks was already three times greater than that on PC during the same timeframe. Developing for the console has been a great experience for myself and other developers; Nintendo does require a good expectation for games to function and run optimally.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

I'm hoping to build my game fully for the Nintendo Switch in mind. It's currently in the pre-production phase so maybe there will be something to show in the second half of the year.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

I'd definitely like to see more exclusives from the indie/third-party side. It's great to see games that I already like on the console but I'd like to see stuff I wouldn't see on any other platform.

Andy Pearson - Group Strategic Development Manager, PQube Games

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Yes, very good.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

Very strong, continuing to bridge the gap between our Steam sales and what used to typically be PS Vita sales (for our common genres of visual novels for example – perfect for Switch).

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Massively; it's a huge factor of our 2020 revenue forecast and we hope to exceed that plan.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

While the eShop is a tremendous sales platform, it would be great to see improvements to discoverability for the consumer, as well as tools for publishers to target users who have shown an interest in their titles and other potential customers.

Hexagroove© Ichigoichie

David Ventura, Creative Director, Ichigoichie

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Absolutely. Switch is the system to be on right now and everyone knows it. The explosion in the number of games in the eShop in 2019 shows it.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

We designed our first game, Hexagroove, explicitly for the Switch and are quite satisfied with how the platform delivered on the kind of gameplay we envisioned.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Yes, we just launched in Japan in late December, and are looking forward to growing our Switch customer base in new ways in 2020.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

As an indie, the biggest improvements we'd like to see in 2020 is in the eShop. Developing for the Switch is pretty painless, but the volume of titles that customers have to navigate now is overwhelming. Having a store experience that presents the diverse catalogue of the Switch in a number of slick, effective ways to connect indies to the burgeoning customer base would help small developers focus on creating great products and minimize the marketing overhead.

Matt Phillips, Director, Big Evil Corp

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

It's had a fantastic year. Lots of old favourites ported across, new big-name 1st party titles, Untitled Goose Game broke the world...

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

It's been a game-changer, we're very excited to be working with a new system which has been good for productivity, and got the ideas juices flowing again.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Yes, heavily so. We're releasing a port of our first game early next year, we've been experimenting with new Switch-oriented ideas, and have plans to release our new middleware for the platform on the horizon.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

Same answer for every platform – let students on board. Microsoft's XNA project back in 2008 let unlicensed indie devs run and debug code on their own home consoles, which was a huge game-changer for education and looks great to potential employers. A program like this for Switch would change the world for graduates.

Fabio Ferrara, Game Developer, Chubby Pixel

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Yes, especially for indies. Cadence of Hyrule, for example, gave to the indie community a great boost.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

Our games performed best on Nintendo Switch than on other platforms in the last 2 years, probably due to the fact that our games were designed specifically for this platform.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Yes, we have 2 new upcoming titles designed for Switch that I hope will be released in 2020.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

In the world of Switch, I would like to see a new console edition with better hardware; that would help to improve our next releases!

Worse Than Death© Benjamin Rivers Inc.

Benjamin Rivers, Benjamin Rivers (Inc.)

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

It's pretty clear that Nintendo Switch had a banner year for both hardware and software. Of course, as a developer, what we're most concerned about is third-party support and promotion. Nintendo had huge headlines this year, but that affected third parties too; independent games, especially, saw a lot less press attention on the platform.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

The launch of our third game (Worse Than Death) marked our first release on Nintendo Switch. It was our #2 platform for the game in terms of both units sold and revenue earned. We have been very happy with the reception of the game, but it was tough to really stand out on the eShop in a crowded market. Without feature support, we didn't get as much traction as we hoped.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Yes, absolutely. The Nintendo Switch is still a great fit for the kinds of games we make – compact adventures with deep stories that push narrative over pure graphical muscle. However, publishing a Mature-rated game on Switch has its challenges; titles like that definitely receive less attention than youth- or teen-focused games, and that has given us a lot to consider.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

Two specific things: One: an improvement to the eShop so titles are given more ways to be featured; right now even the smallest games are competing purely against Nintendo's first-party output, and have little other ways to shine unless customers go digging. Other platforms have feature events to highlight content of higher variety (especially in regards to indies), and we'd love to see Nintendo get more focused this way too. Two: the elimination of the current tactic whereby developers discount their games to a ludicrous degree to artificially climb charts for short-term games. It's probably worked for a lot of devs by now, but it's going to hurt us all in the end as players get wise.

Jack Davis, Director, aPriori Digital

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Switch had an amazing 2019 – both for AAA and Indies! It was good to see third party developers bringing their titles to switch and making that jump, as it opens the doors to more titles being viable on Switch.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

We didn’t release any titles in 2019 for Switch, unfortunately, but we had a steady income from Aperion Cyberstorm and having boosts when sales happened like the ‘Gaming on the Go’ sale. The demo also got a lot of love from the public and hopefully introduced more players to our work.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

We have quite a few projects in the works for Switch in 2020 – the main one being Double Pug Switch which we are publishing on behalf of The Polygon Loft, about a dimension-switching pug trying to find his owner. We also have a new IP in the works with a 2020 release planned and we will be doing something special with Aperion Cyberstorm for all the support from the Switch player base.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

The main thing we would like to see changed is the storefront for the eShop to have better discoverability of titles; as at the moment, once you come out of new releases you are on the bottom of the pile. Also would be great if they added background music to the Switch eShop, like our beloved Wii U eShop!

Howard Tsao, CEO, Muse Games

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Overall, I think Switch had a great year. The first party as well as significant third-party titles remained big hits and drove the sales of the console.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

For us, the Switch was a major release platform for Hamsterdam. It was our first time releasing a game on the Switch, and there was a learning curve for us to get through certification. Nintendo gave Hamsterdam a bit of a push along with posting the release trailer on its official YouTube channel, and that helped with Hamsterdam’s release. Overall, releasing on the Switch had been exciting and fruitful for us. With the gestural controls of the Joy-Con, we were able to bring Hamster martial arts to life and craft a unique beat’em and fighting experience, and that wasn’t possible on other game platforms.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Definitely. With our upcoming game Embr, we’re excited to bring this genre-bending co-op fire-fighting (un)simulator to the Switch. Switch players can expect to fight fires, save lives (sometimes), and make money (most of the time).

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

I think some more optimization of the eShop to feature and enhance discoverability of indie titles would be a positive. More instructions on test and edge cases for developers during the certification process would be helpful as well.

Hasmterdam© Muse Games

Nick Tannahill, Marketing Director & Jack Massey, Programmer, Firefly Studios

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Nick: Definitely! I think a lot of really hardcore fans were slightly deflated at the end of last year and start of 2019. It was made clear Metroid Prime 4 was miles off, we weren’t getting a full-fat Zelda for a while and there was no new Mario on the horizon. Looking back, however, it’s been an incredible year whether your Switch is an indie machine or a Zelda box. Indie releases have been outstanding and between Pokémon, Luigi, Link’s Awakening and Fire Emblem, 2019 has been a pretty stellar year in terms of first-party IPs.

Jack:
As a system, I think the Switch had a very strong year. The addition of the “Boost Mode” that increased clock speeds by 75%, allowing users to trade battery life for load time improvements, was actually a huge help for us.

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?


Nick:
As an indie who admittedly missed the Switch gold rush of 2017 and early 2018, this has been an interesting year for us. Launching on Switch is no longer a case of getting something high quality on there as fast as possible, succeeding because you’re one of 30 games available. That said it’s nothing like as impenetrable as mobile or other, increasingly crowded digital storefronts.

Effective marketing and knowledge of how the store functions can be enough on the eShop, meaning indies actually stand a chance! Sure there are a crazy number of games on there versus year one, but compared to the App Store or Steam it’s still far less crowded.

If you can come up with a neat trick for your launch and build up a community beforehand success is possible. Bravely launch the same day as a massive Nintendo title and you might take the number two or three spot. Be smart with discounts and you can brute force your way to visibility. Build serious, long-term relations with people at Nintendo, with the knowledge that a feature on the eShop is definitely worth your time.

Jack:
Given our background as PC developers, the Switch has been interesting to develop on over the past year, as our first offering on the platform. It’s required a great deal of optimisation, but that has actually brought about unexpected improvements for our PC build that can be introduced more broadly in other any other ports.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Nick:
I think like a lot of independent developers and indie publishers with multiple titles in development we’re definitely hoping to release something! The people curating the eShop are, despite the flood of Switch titles over the past 18 months, still hungry for content. So if you’re an indie with a unique title that features something lacking on Switch or a small publisher ready to port your strong back catalogue to Switch there’s still a greater potential return here than on PlayStation or Xbox. Unless you have a healthy six or seven-figure marketing budget this is still the sane choice in terms of where to invest your time and energy.

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

Nick:
As a developer, we’d definitely like to see more routes to improving visibility for your games on the store that don’t revolve around units shipped! The eShop has pretty basic curation in terms of design and how robust the whole thing is. In the beginning, this was great as it meant new titles were guaranteed their time in the sun, but now it means many developers simply discount their games by crazy amounts just to stand a chance of being noticed. This is neither sustainable nor effective. Outside of the eShop, Nintendo’s occasional Indie World showcase features are fantastic. More of that kind of thing and a transparent application process for submitting to these would be a huge boost to completely novice developers.

Jack:
Personally I’d be interested to see if the rumoured generational power-up occurs and what form that takes. We’ve seen Nintendo pivot heavily towards portable users with the Switch Lite to great effect, so seeing what the Switch “Pro” looks like and what flexibility that may afford us is something I look forward to. Much like how the 3DS to New 3DS allowed for a greater scope in graphical fidelity, control and sheer CPU heft.

Krzysztof Janicki, Story Designer, 7Levels

Do you think Switch had a good 2019?

Good? Over 40 million consoles sold life to date, hundreds of great game including an awesome Zelda remake and Luigi’s Mansion 3… It was unbelievable! There were weeks when three or four dozen games released at once and at least half of them were worth playing. What other platform could claim that this year?

How good has Switch been for your company as a platform over the past year?

2019 was an important milestone for us as we managed to publish three games in one year: Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight, critically acclaimed Golf Peaks, and our internally developed Jet Kave Adventure, which is soon getting a meaty content update. Nintendo really made the Switch a perfect console for indie developers. Going forward, we still see it as our main platform.

Do you expect Switch to figure in your plans for 2020?

Definitely! We have a few great Switch projects already scheduled for 2020. You can expect more news on that early next year – actually in a matter of weeks!

What changes would you like to see happen in the world of Switch in 2020?

A 7Levels game featured in the Nintendo Direct… yeah, that would be nice! On a more serious note, everything seems to be going in the right direction for the platform, but of course, we’d love to see some evolutionary changes in the Nintendo eShop, which is getting flooded with games. New interface solutions and functionalities that would help players find games they might enjoy would be really welcome.