With the recent press event revealing the details and launch lineup of the Nintendo Switch, the prolific company’s newest console, possible third-party team-ups are all the news. The Switch is a departure from what we’ve gotten used to in more ways than one, and the extensive third-party support is one of them. Nonetheless, GTA 5 is one game that’s unlikely to make the jump.
Of course, absolutely bloody no-one expected to be playing The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim on Nintendo’s next home/portable hybrid console and here we are. That being said, there are a handful of reasons why Skyrim could be ported and they happen to be similar reasons as to why GTA 5 likely won’t be.
See, the gimmick – since most Nintendo consoles are based on a gimmick – this time around is that the Switch can switch (Ha!) from home console to handheld on the fly seamlessly. The console proper is a tablet and a screen, which can be slotted into a docking unit to display the game on a large screen, or can be removed, with two halves of the controller attached to either side to be used as a handheld.
Since it’s easier and cheaper to develop such a hybrid with the specs of a portable rather than a home console, the Switch’s hardware comes short of the competition. Cramming the power of an Xbox One into a light and thin body like that of the Switch would cost astronomical amounts, not to mention the time required would push the release several years back.
As such, there are only so many games that would run on this thing. Sure, optimization work must be done when porting something to both Xbox One and PS4 due to hardware differences, but in terms of capability, those two are roughly on the same level. The Switch, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as powerful.
In the case of Skyrim, a game over five years old, optimization for the hardware of the Switch likely wasn’t much of an issue. Even upon release, the game wasn’t considered particularly hardware-intensive, unlike GTA 5. This brings us to the main issue: optimization.
To port GTA 5 to the Nintendo Switch, the graphics of the game would need to be decreased immensely. Textures, lighting and particle effects, draw distance and resolution would all take a hit. GTA 5 is greatly praised for its visuals, and while this isn’t the main draw of the game, reducing the quality of graphics would possibly hurt sales.
Of course, anything with the GTA name on it will sell like hotcakes regardless, but there are other issues to consider. Once you cut the performance of the game you still need to consider storage. The Switch will have 32 gigabytes of internal storage with no means of expanding it with external, and it would take immense efforts in terms of optimization to fit GTA 5 into that size, and then you have to assume that players will play more than one game.
Would you play GTA 5 on the Nintendo Switch should it be ported sometime in the future?