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Bottom line: Microsoft and Nintendo’s bizarre friendship appears to be blossoming in new and exciting ways, bringing down the walled gardens of old. Microsoft’s best in-house Xbox games and a select few of the most popular 3rd-party titles could become available on an Xbox GamePass app for the Nintendo Switch, or even its successor, later this year.
According to a variety of sources, Microsoft is already deep into the development of bringing Xbox titles to the Nintendo Switch. Intensive titles, such as Forza Horizon 4, are expected to run on Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service, while indie titles may lose their exclusive status and become direct ports available on the Switch store. The hits leaked so far include Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead and (potentially) Gears of War 5.
Direct-Feed Games was the first to break the news, and although they don’t have the best track record (they claimed that Call of Duty would come to Switch last year) this time there are other sources to back them up. Both Windows Central and Game Informer claim to have heard the same news from multiple sources themselves. Game Informer even suggests that the GamePass could arrive on PlayStation.
Beyond this, though, there’s a lot of logic behind the move. There’s no denying that for a long time Microsoft has been working to shift itself to a cloud-service provider, and this idea was brought into the gaming department when CEO Satya Nadella promoted Phil Spencer to head of gaming in 2014.
Spencer’s dream has always been to expand the boundaries of gaming. “I don’t want to dilute what the Xbox console customer feels. I want to expand what we’re able to do for more customers,” he told Polygon in 2015.
In 2017, Spencer announced the Xbox GamePass, a way to play over a hundred games for $10 per month. At E3 2018 he lifted the veil on Project xCloud, their game streaming service that lets players use smartphones and other devices to remotely connect to servers that power the games. He personally promised that players would be able to experience it this year, even if only in limited capacity.
In December, Spencer said in an interview with GameSpot that GamePass “started on console, it will come to PC, and eventually it will come to every device.” It was the first big step that Microsoft took towards breaking down the walls of console exclusives, even if it was only bringing games to Microsoft’s own platform, Windows, at first. However, that’s not the only brick they’re tearing off the wall.
Microsoft has been advertising cross-platform gameplay heavily as of late (specifically with Nintendo, I might add) and session notes for the upcoming Game Developer Conference confirm that Spencer will announce a cross-platform SDK for Xbox games that will work on Android, iOS, PC, Xbox, and Switch. And lately, on the quiet, Microsoft has been letting their studios publish titles that aren’t going to be exclusives such as Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds.
It also makes sense for Nintendo, who already has Resident Evil 7 gamestreamed to the Switch in Japan. And if the steady supply of rumors suggesting that the Switch will receive a refresh are true, then what better way to launch a console than with a whole new library of games? Of course, just because the move makes sense, it doesn’t mean that we will see any Xbox games arriving on Nintendo Switch. The more logical things are, the easier it is for fake leakers to spread rumors. However, if Xbox GamePass does arrive on Switch, it would be pretty freakin’ awesome.