Riot Games is alpha testing Valorant prototypes on consoles
No guarantees: Executive producer says the developers will not "compromise competitive integrity"By Cal Jeffrey
In context: Porting a PC game to consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch is an effective way for producers to boost their player base, especially for multiplayer online games. But not all PC titles translate well to console play. Disparities in control schemes can make cross-platform play unenjoyable, which raises concerns with Valorant developers as they consider bringing the tactical shooter to the masses.
Despite its comparisons to Overwatch and Counter-Strike, Riot Games' Valorant has proven to be a fun and popular tactical team shooter. So it comes as no surprise that the developers are looking into possibly porting it to consoles.
In an interview with GameSpot, Valorant's Executive Producer Anna Donlon said, "We are definitely prototyping [on consoles] right now." However, Donlon clarified that the studio has not committed to porting the game yet. It wants to be sure Valorant can play well on consoles, something it is testing with the prototypes. "There's a way to play this game, and there's a way to experience this game that we're not entirely sure translates completely to console play," she said.
The developers are primarily concerned with the competitive aspect of the gameplay. They do not want to compromise Valorant's "competitive integrity" by allowing players to feel like one platform has an advantage over another. Ideally, Riot would like gamers playing on consoles to feel on-par when matched with those on PCs.
Leveling the playing field between console and PC players is a tall order that most would agree no developer has been able to do, not that they have not tried. The main problem lies in the fact that console controllers cannot physically replicate the responsiveness and precision of a mouse.
To compensate for this handicap in cross-platform games, studios have tried implementing aim-assisting features. However, this has not been well-received for the most part. Many feel that aim assist tilts the scale too far in favor of the console player by giving them a computer-aided advantage.
Another option is to enable mouse control on the console versions. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are capable of recognizing mouse and keyboard inputs, but it has to be implemented in the game. For many, this is not a satisfactory solution either, especially for those accustomed to only using a controller.
So, aside from keeping console users off PC servers, the problem is difficult to fix. That said, Riot insists that if it can find a way to have the same experience across all platforms, it will consider porting Valorant.
"If we feel like we can deliver this experience on those platforms, we absolutely will," Donlon said. "But we really want Valorant to stand for a certain type of gameplay and a certain type of experience."
That leaves a console version of Valorant in the "maybe" category for now. Perhaps with more testing, the developers will hit on something that other studios have missed. After all, Valorant only left beta two days ago.
It's a very young game. There is plenty of time for Riot to play with console prototypes, but its main focus is making sure the PC experience is everything it can be, so don't expect a console port anytime soon.