In Defense of Porting Wii U Games Over to the Nintendo Switch

When Nintendo announced that they will be re-releasing Mario Kart 8 for the Switch, I knew it was inevitable for Nintendo to port several Wii U titles over. Say what you will about the Wii U’s sales numbers, one thing you can’t deny is the failed console had a lot of great games – games that not enough people played because few people bought the Wii U. Sure, we can say that anyone who wants to play those games should buy a Wii U and get copies of all those Wii U games that they missed. After all, anything Wii U-related should have cheap prices now that Nintendo has effectively given up on the failed console.

I used to be one of those people who bought a console after it’s already “dead” so I can experience what that console had to offer without having to spend a lot of money, but I can’t recommend that practice now. Technology is at the point wherein you can really tell the difference between current and previous gen titles. And we haven’t really touched on the Switch’s portability – not everyone will feel the same way, but for me a game’s value skyrockets if I can play it on the go, anywhere I want to play it.

Metacritic’s Top 15 Wii U software of all time.

And that’s really my first argument for Switch ports of Wii U games – why should Switch owners who did not buy a Wii U be denied of the chance to play all the great Wii U games? Is it “punishment” for not supporting Nintendo’s previous console? Because there are no winners in that scenario – we don’t get to play those good games, and Nintendo loses what could have been additional profits from software that they already worked on. Doing this offers no real benefit to Wii U owners who already own these titles, save perhaps a misguided sense of exclusivity, knowing that they and only they were able to experience these games.

Aside from getting another chance to play critically acclaimed titles like Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Maker, Nintendo is able to bolster the Switch’s game library with minimal effort (relative to developing software from the ground up). This in turn helps Nintendo ensure that the Switch will not share the same fate as the Wii U wherein quality software releases were few and far in between. It keeps Nintendo in the video game console business, which is in itself a victory for long time fans.

On the flipside, re-releasing these games on the Switch have no real penalty to Wii U owners. I don’t think copies of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U magically disappeared or got corrupted once Nintendo released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch; there’s no dip in quality or performance for those who continue to play and enjoy the Wii U versions. Maybe the salt comes from knowing that the Switch version of Mario Kart 8 is much better; the Deluxe version includes all of the DLC packs, plus Battle Mode, new power ups, the ability to have two power ups at the same time, and so on. But can we hold it against Nintendo for wanting to release an improved product for new audiences?

As far as buying these re-releases are concerned, nobody is forcing Wii U owners to do so. If you own a Wii U and you don’t want to double-dip on a title that you already own despite the improvements and additional features, then don’t. But don’t be selfish and keep these great games to yourselves; let the people who didn’t get a Wii U have another chance at these titles.

There are some Wii U owners who think that Nintendo should compensate them for their purchase by having some sort of policy that will reduce or completely eliminate the cost of double-dipping. I can see why they would want that but I don’t necessarily agree with the line of thinking; we have stores like GameStop wherein you can trade in used Wii U games for new Switch ones, etc. I just don’t think the burden should be on Nintendo on this one.

The best analogy I can think of, and this isn’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, are movie releases. Say you didn’t own a Blu Ray player until recently and you had a movie collection in standard DVD format. After saving up for one, you’re finally able to afford your own Blu Ray player and of course you’re considering getting Blu Ray copies of your favorite films. Does it follow that, since you already own these films in standard DVD format, that movie companies should sell them at lower prices? Or what about a more extreme example – say you have a copy of an old movie, like Back to the Future, on VHS. When it came out on DVD in 2002, should it have been sold to you for cheaper because you have it on VHS? And when it was released on 2010 in Blu Ray, should it have been priced differently for those who had copies of it in the older formats?

If the Wii U Smash Bros. gets ported over to the Switch, including all of the DLC characters plus new additions to the roster would make this a Day One purchase for me.

Porting Wii U games over to the Nintendo Switch isn’t as simple as copy-pasting all the game’s files and assets from optical media to Switch cartridges; while porting games costs less and requires less effort and time compared to developing new titles from the ground up, it still requires time and effort and there are still costs involved. As a consumer, all I can hope for is for Nintendo to add content to their ports of Wii U games, much like what they did with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and what they’ll be doing with Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. Bottomline is though, if I don’t want to buy a Switch version of a game that’s already been released on the Wii U, I let my money do the talking.

With all that said, Wii U owners shouldn’t feel bad about their favorite titles getting ported to the Switch. They can simply ignore these; there will be original games coming to the Switch for sure. This gives all of us Switch owners who skipped on the Wii U a chance to play all the great games that were released on that system. Now, if Wii U owners are still salty about Nintendo dropping support for the console after just four years, that’s entirely a different thing…

What do you think about Nintendo’s Switch ports of Wii U games? Are there any titles that you’re looking forward to playing on the Switch? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or two below!

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