Due to the numerous failings of the Wii U, third-party publishers were initially reluctant to join the Nintendo Switch hype train. The poor sales numbers of the Wii U couldn’t justify the effort to port over third-party games to that system. So when the Switch launched and publishers took note of its fantastic sales, they slowly but surely jumped back on board. Electronic Arts (EA) is an exception, instead showing a significant lack of support for Switch.
As one of the biggest third-party publishers in the industry, EA has published myriad great titles over the years such as Dead Space and Mass Effect, making it disappointing that the vast majority of these games have been absent from the Switch library. So why does EA ignore the Switch, and what could it offer if it didn’t?
An unprecedented relationship?
EA’s current support of Nintendo is minuscule, so let’s look back at the history of the relationship between the two companies. As far back as the GameCube, EA was publishing sports titles for Nintendo like SSX on Tour. At the time, Nintendo even went the extra mile by granting publishers like EA and Activision reduced licensing costs and letting Nintendo characters guest-appear in some games. Mario and the crew were playable in SSX on Tour and even NBA Street V3.
When the Wii launched to spectacular sales numbers, it was another chance for EA to get on board, and for a while, they did try to support the console. During the Wii’s lifecycle, EA released Wii-exclusive games like MySims and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox, the latter of which sold at least over 450,000 units, though they didn’t have the financial or cultural impact of something like Wii Sports.
At E3 2011, ex-EA boss John Riccitiello declared that EA would have an “unprecedented relationship” with Nintendo thanks to the Wii U. It didn’t take long for this bold claim to become undone as, not long after the launch of the Wii U, EA almost entirely dropped support of the console. Over the Wii U’s lifecycle, EA released a total of four games: Mass Effect 3: Special Edition, Need For Speed: Most Wanted U, Madden NFL 13, and FIFA 13. The poor sales of the Wii U likely had an impact on sales, but the fact that EA’s only efforts were late or inferior ports meant Wii U players had few reasons to buy them either.
Switching it up
After the failures of the Wii U, it was clear that trust had broken down between EA and Nintendo. As a result, EA’s support of Nintendo Switch has been perhaps the weakest it’s been to any Nintendo system so far. A quick look at EA’s website shows that only five games are currently on the Switch, and three of those are FIFA titles that lack features compared to other console versions. Based on sales numbers, EA believes players prefer to play their games on other consoles, but since the majority of EA games haven’t made it to Switch, we don’t really have any proof to support that comparison. It’s a weak wall to hide behind.
There clearly hasn’t been enough trust between the two companies for EA to support the Switch, but could this change in the future? EA recently had a lot of positive things to say about the console and its interest in bringing more games to it. Whether this is PR speak or they really mean it is unclear, though with the release of Burnout Paradise Remastered coming, perhaps there is hope.
If the publisher does decide to support the Switch, then games like Mass Effect and Plants vs. Zombies would be great titles to take on the go, while games like A Way Out could be perfect for co-op play. I personally don’t expect much in the way of EA supporting the Switch anytime soon, especially with their reliance on the unruly Frostbite engine (though then again…), but there’s no denying they have a lot of games to offer.
What would you like to see EA bring to the Switch?