The Case for Splatoon 2 on Xbox One

If any Nintendo IP makes sense on Microsoft’s console, it’s this one.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 02/22/2019 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

This week, rumors have been buzzing about a potential partnership between Nintendo and Microsoft. According to French site JeuxVideo, the two industry titans have held meetings about ways to grow the partnership they’ve seemingly developed over the last year or so. While the news would be unbelievable during any other console generation, the rumor has gotten a bit more steam thanks to the two companies working together on cross-play between games like Minecraft, Fortnite and Rocket League. According to the reports, there have been discussions about Microsoft franchises such as Halo and Forza appearing on Switch. The likelihood of any Nintendo IPs showing up on Xbox One in exchange seems fairly remote, but JeuxVideo’s source refused to comment on the prospect, either way. That said, it’s hard to imagine the possibility wasn’t at least discussed, and there’s only one game that would make sense for both parties: Splatoon 2. In fact, such a move could be quite advantageous for Splatoon fans, as well.

Nintendo software sells Nintendo systems; that has been an indisputable fact since the days of NES. Throughout the company’s history, exclusive franchises such as Mario, Zelda and Pokémon have helped keep Nintendo afloat during some of their most difficult periods. During those difficult periods, pundits have often pushed for Nintendo to follow Sega’s move towards publishing software exclusively. Nintendo has always (rightly) shrugged off the idea of releasing their games on other platforms. However, this console generation is quite different, with Nintendo Switch proving to be a big success for the company. Games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild have pushed sales of the hardware, and continue to sell well as “evergreen” titles.

Splatoon 2 is another such evergreen title, but the game is a very different animal compared with Mario or Zelda. The franchise is still relatively young, but it has a passionate fanbase of dedicated players that have helped propel sales of Switch in Japan, where Splatoon 2 is the system’s best selling software title. At this point, however, the game has been available for almost two years. While Nintendo games are known for having impressive shelf lives, it stands to reason that a lot of the players that would buy a Switch specifically for Splatoon have probably already done so. With a new iteration in the series likely some ways away, Nintendo will need to continue to find ways to keep the game’s userbase engaged and growing. A release on Xbox One would certainly help to achieve both those goals.

In just one year, cross-play between games on Switch and Xbox One has become an expectation from fans, and with Splatoon 2, that implementation would have to be in place right from the start. One of the most daunting things about buying an online game is the concern whether there would be enough people to play with. With Splatoon 2, Xbox owners would already find a large number of players throughout the world to do battle with. Making the game available on Xbox One wouldn’t make much of a difference in Japan, but it would likely bring in a lot more players in North America and Europe, where the system has performed better.

A Nintendo published game on Xbox would be a major boon for Microsoft, but it stands to reason Nintendo would also have a lot to gain. New Splatoon players would likely help move more of the game’s merchandise and get Xbox owners to consider making the jump to Nintendo’s next system when a future Splatoon 3 would be (at the very least) a timed exclusive on Nintendo’s hardware. It might also get Xbox owners hooked on Splatoon 2 to purchase a Switch, for the added incentive of playing the game on the go, or to play as the Inklings in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Finally, any deal allowing a Nintendo IP to appear on Xbox would have to come with major strings attached, and those strings would likely include Microsoft published games like Halo or Rare Replay to appear on Switch.

While the situation as presented could definitely work in both companies’ favor, there are definitely hurdles in the way. Many Nintendo fans would likely balk at the idea of any Nintendo published game appearing on another company’s system, regardless of the benefits. Nintendo fans are, above all else, notoriously protective of these characters and worlds. But, if done correctly, Splatoon 2 on Xbox One could be the sort of bold move that could benefit nearly everyone in the long run. Except for Sony, of course.

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