“Hope it comes to Switch.” We’ve all seen or said or thought this countless times while finding interesting and experimental PC games that would feel great on a handheld. And developers have obliged us, transforming the Switch into a flourishing home for smaller, less hardware-intensive games. The one drawback has typically been the wait, as these games often would hit PC first and come to Switch months or even years later. That’s still the case today, which is why owning a Steam Deck has made recent Nintendo Direct presentations feel a lot less exciting for me than they used to be.
Since the earliest days of Nintendo Direct, I’ve loved the presentation style. Video game announcements and trailers wrapped up in a quick, snappy, visually appealing package. It’s no wonder that they’ve become the standard for the industry as more publishers move away from live events. But the star of the show has always been the games themselves. And when most of those games are also appearing on a handheld PC that looks and feels a lot like a Switch, and they’re often coming to PC earlier and/or cheaper, it’s hard to get too excited.
Take today’s Nintendo Direct Mini, for example. Some of the games shown, like Nier Automata or Portal: Companion Collection, are already available on Steam, making the Switch version the late-comer. (Right now the Portal bundle on Steam is $3 while the newly launched Portal: Companion Collection on Switch is $20. This is partly due to the Steam Summer Sale, but that’s another point in Steam’s favor–these deep discounts are much more common on Valve’s store.) Meanwhile, surprise drops like Little Noah: Scion of Paradise surprise-dropped on Steam right alongside the Switch. Even the big finish, the announcement that Persona 5 Royal is finally coming to the Switch, was slightly undercut by the announcement weeks ago that it’s coming to PC and Xbox Game Pass.
It used to be that when I saw a great-looking indie game like Rogue Legacy 2 or Vampire Survivors, I would watch a Nintendo Direct with rapt anticipation hoping to see that they were coming to my handheld of choice. Now I have them both and I’ve been enjoying them for weeks on my Steam Deck. I don’t need to “hope it comes to Switch” anymore, because I already have a device that, with its access to the vast PC games library that often gets games first, renders that hope irrelevant.
This isn’t to say that the Nintendo Direct wasn’t entertaining and full of great games. Nintendo is a big publisher, and lots of developers like to show off their wares on a Nintendo Direct first. There were plenty of games I wasn’t even aware of that were shown at today’s Direct. I’m just coming to terms with the fact that Steam Deck has rendered Switch an exclusives-only console–for everything else, I’ll likely play on Steam Deck sooner and/or cheaper.
That’s because, even for the games released simultaneously across PC and Switch, I have more confidence in my Steam library remaining with me. I would like to think that Nintendo has learned its lesson and is planning the Switch library to be forward-compatible to the next one, but there’s no guarantee. Not to mention, Steam often gets more-aggressive sale prices than those on Switch, so by simply waiting a little while I can probably get the same games, on a similar device, for cheaper. More so, the Steam Deck often offers better performance, along with all of Steam’s community hooks, tools like mods, and features like achievements. Game updates and patches often come to Steam before they come to Switch. And if I ever do graduate to a desktop gaming PC, I know my full library will follow me there.
This all makes it even more vital for Nintendo to show off its first-party exclusives or secure more cool-looking indie exclusives like it did back in 2017 when it first launched (Golf Story or Battle Chef Brigade deserve sequels). I love Nintendo games; I always have. There’s nothing quite like the pinpoint platforming of Mario, the epic fantasy grandeur of Zelda, or the eerie isolation of Metroid. Like all Nintendo platforms, the Switch will remain the sole repository for Nintendo’s unique game design sensibilities. Nintendo’s own games themselves will be enough to keep the Switch in my gaming rotation for the foreseeable future, and there are still third-party developers making exclusive Switch games like Dragon Quest Treasures or Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, besides. But Nintendo hasn’t had a big summer showcase like many other publishers, and this presentation was squarely focused on third-parties.
The days of “hope it comes to Switch” may be over. After years of not being a PC gamer, Steam Deck has opened a new world of early access to games that I so often had to wait for a console port of previously. That means I can get it faster, cheaper, and more future-proofed on Steam. The Steam Deck won’t ultimately be a Switch killer, but it has taken some of the luster out of what used to make Nintendo Directs feel so special for me.