Posted by Kris Randazzo on Mar 8th 2023
This Microsoft/Activision thing is pretty crazy. It has brought out some rather interesting revelations too, especially concerning Microsoft’s willingness to continue producing content for “competing” platforms. I put “competing” in quotation marks because really the only platform they’re in any real competition with is PlayStation. Microsoft and Nintendo have been getting along thick as thieves lately. In fact, relating to the whole Call of Duty situation, Microsoft’s Brad Smith recently tweeted out “We’ve now signed a binding 10-year contract to bring Xbox games to Nintendo’s gamers. This is just part of our commitment to bring Xbox games and Activision titles like Call of Duty to more players on more platforms.”
Of course, he later reaffirmed that this specifically refers to Call of Duty and not Microsoft properties as a whole, but their existing track record of working with Nintendo to bring the games players want to the platforms they want to play them on speaks for itself.
Obviously, Microsoft has an interest in maintaining a degree of exclusivity. While they’re happy to have people playing their games on whatever platform brings them money, they’d prefer that platform be an Xbox. Still, Nintendo in particular is in an interesting position to actually give Microsoft something in return.
What I think we might see more of in the future is a sort of shared exclusivity between the two of them. Look at GoldenEye 007. That game needed both Microsoft and Nintendo to happen, and it wound up materializing on both Nintendo and Xbox in different forms. While it’s unlikely this is the start of a cavalcade of previous exclusives going multiplatform, there’s no denying that both Nintendo and Microsoft have their hands on some properties that would likely perform much better on each other’s platforms.
Probably the most obvious on the Nintendo front is Bayonetta. Platinum’s over the top action series found an unlikely home on Nintendo’s platforms, and while it performed admirably on Switch, there’s no doubt in my mind that Bayonetta 2 and 3 would sell exponentially better on Xbox. The Xbox 360 is where the series started, after all. Every time Nintendo announces another Bayonetta game, there’s an inevitable chorus of gamers hoping against hope that the game will hit other platforms, but these are Nintendo-funded projects. If Microsoft were to somehow get Nintendo to loosen their grip though, Xbox players would no doubt be very happy. Those games would probably look and play great on more powerful hardware for sure.
In exchange, wouldn’t it be cool to have Sea of Thieves on Switch? Sea of Thieves isn’t exactly a monumental sales juggernaut, but then again, neither is Bayonetta. What it has done though, just like Bayonetta, is garner a very respectable audience. Sea of Thieves is colorful, charming, and exactly the kind of game Nintendo fans would eat up. The fact that it’s the first project out of Rare in ages that’s been a genuine success doesn't hurt either. The Switch could surely handle the game without too many sacrifices, and with a little crossplay those seas could be more full than ever before.
Back to the Xbox ecosystem, there really is a nasty rivalry going on between them and PlayStation, and Sony’s platform has the sales to back up its position as market leader. However, with a little help from Nintendo, Xbox owners could get a version of a game that’s traditionally been viewed as a PlayStation property first and foremost: Metal Gear Solid. Way back in the GameCube days, a strange project came about that was a joint venture between Nintendo, Konami, and Silicon Knights. It was a full on remake of the first Metal Gear Solid game on PlayStation called The Twin Snakes. It’s a bit of an odd duck, but it was still really good. It was still Metal Gear Solid, after all. Thing is, this game has never left the GameCube because, well, it was a pretty weird GameCube exclusive. But let's say Nintendo convinces Konami to make a new HD version of The Twin Snakes, not only would it be great to have it on Switch, but getting it on the Xbox as well (and not on PlayStation) would be a heck of a big get.
In return, Nintendo could be a home for another long storied franchise that’s managed to land on a platform that it doesn’t feel like it belongs on: Banjo-Kazooie. Now, Microsoft paid big bucks for Rare, so I’m not saying they should allow Rare to make an exclusive new Banjo game just for Nintendo, but a new Banjo game should absolutely happen. There’s clearly a lot of love left in the universe for that IP, and when it does, it should absolutely land on Nintendo’s platform as well as Microsoft’s. Can you imagine how well a new Banjo-Kazooie game would do on Switch? One that takes advantage of all the advancements in 3D platformers since the N64 days? Having the original game show up on NSO was a big deal on its own. That would be huge for all parties involved.
Shifting focus back to the GameCube again, it’s time for a new Eternal Darkness game, and while the Switch would be a pretty cool place for it, the power of the Xbox Series could make for some truly scary stuff. Either a straight up remake or a sequel would work, but the Eternal Darkness brand is one that’s been languishing for way too long. It’s one of those games that the few people who have played always rave about, but the GameCube was simply the wrong platform at the wrong time. Xbox gamers would probably eat it up though, and finally give Eternal Darkness the platform and audience it deserves.
And while Xbox players are enjoying their insanity effects, Nintendo players could finally get their turn at a different kind of insanity: Psychonauts. The Psychonauts franchise never landing on a Nintendo platform has always been weird to me, especially since it wasn't a Microsoft property to begin with. But they own it now, and seeing Psychonauts 1 and 2 land on Switch would be fantastic. They’re exactly the kinds of games that Nintendo players would gravitate toward. The series got a real shot in the arm with the brilliant Psychonauts 2, and giving Nintendo fans a chance to see what it’s all about seems like a no brainer.
Xbox players are no stranger to awesome racing games, but there’s one particularly stupid game that’s missing from the Xbox library. Next to your Forzas and your Burnouts should be a blazing mountain of Cruis’n. Cruis'n Blast is, well, a blast. It’s stupid, but in the best way possible. But for some reason, it just doesn't look as good as it should on Switch. But can you imagine a cleaned up, smooth as heck version on Xbox? With all that lovely online play and a series of ridiculous achievements? Cruis'n Blast is a perfect fit for Xbox!
And speaking of arcade-style fun, where the heck is Geometry Wars? I’m not 100% sure Microsoft owns this one, but I’m pretty sure one of their many, MANY subsidiaries does, and my goodness does Geometry Wars ever need to hit Switch. The series is no stranger to Nintendo platforms either, with Geometry Wars Galaxies hitting both Wii and DS. But Geometry Wars 2 and 3 never made it to the Nintendo side of things, and that’s a flippin tragedy. It’s the kind of game that should be available to play on every platform for all time, but its digital footprint seems to have shrunk considerably in the last decade or so. It needs a comeback, and Switch is the perfect place for it.
Finally, let’s loop back around to our friends Platinum Games. I don’t know what their situation is with Xbox these days, what with the Scalebound debacle under their belts, but there’s no denying the potential of their games on Xbox, and next to Bayonetta, Astral Chain deserves a shot with their audience. It was a pretty decent success on Switch, but let’s be real, this is the kind of game that has Xbox written all over it. I don’t know why, but it just feels like the kind of game that would do well there, and I think it’s worth a shot.
And that just leaves the one game above all the rest that Microsoft has published that folks would love to see on Switch, Rare Replay. Just about every good game in that collection started life as a Nintendo game, and some of them even had to be augmented for the Xbox. Conker’s Bad Fur Day doesn’t have the chainsaw cutting through the N64 logo. RC Pro-Am has you collecting letters to spell “CHAMPION” instead of “NINTENDO.” Pretty sure the actual level design in Snake Rattle n Roll had to be jiggered with because there was a stage in the game that literally spelled out the words Nintendo Game Boy. But if Rare Replay were to come to Switch, the games could be presented intact. Games like Slalom and Jet Force Gemini belong on Nintendo hardware. That’s what they were created for! But it would also be really cool to get stuff that’s never been on Nintendo before, like the console versions of Viva Pinata and the Perfect Dark Zero. Maybe even a few of those games could find their way to Nintendo Switch Online too!
I love seeing rivals work together, and Microsoft and Nintendo have a lot they could learn from one another. Again, will any of this stuff happen? Probably not. But wouldn’t it be great if it did? I know I'd be a happy camper. What do you think?