When Studio MDHR’s Cuphead made the jump to Nintendo Switch in 2019 despite being a Microsoft exclusive on Xbox One and PC, fans quickly began to speculate how deep this new relationship between Nintendo and Microsoft might go. Things looked even more promising when Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest came to Switch later that year after launching for Xbox One and PC back in 2015. And even though Microsoft then went on record to state there were “no plans” for more Nintendo Switch ports (Minecraft Dungeons aside), Ori and Will of the Wisps made its way to Switch anyway last month. And then Steve landed in Smash! So what’s the deal? Well, Xbox head Phil Spencer elaborated a bit in an interview with Kotaku.
Spencer stated, “We have a very good relationship with Nintendo. And I think we see our work very synergistically, in terms of trying to grow the market. And it just makes it easy. Every conversation we have with them has really been easy.” He specifically cited positive conversations with Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furukawa and Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser.
However, Spencer also stated that trying to decide on a case-by-case basis what Microsoft games might work on Nintendo Switch “doesn’t feel sustainable.” He would prefer that its games arrive in a “full Xbox ecosystem,” which “probably means things like Live and Game Pass and stuff.” However, Nintendo is reportedly uninterested in such an experience on Switch.
Microsoft does not believe porting games from recently acquired Bethesda is critical to recouping the $7.5 billion spent to purchase that publisher either. When asked directly about it, Spencer said he does believe Microsoft can make that money back on its own platforms exclusively. However, he added the following about the purchase:
This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.
So in reality, on the question of whether more Xbox games will ever come to Nintendo Switch, there just isn’t a solid answer right now.