A gaming console without FIFA would be straight-up weird, but football fans can rest easy knowing that the annual football franchise is coming to Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo and EA appear to have kissed and made-up after the publisher stepped away from the Wii U — probably due to a small install base — and while FIFA 18 is the only confirmed game coming from the publisher for the console-handheld hybrid, it could be the most important third-party game coming to the console in its first year on the market.
Interestingly, EA says the Switch version of FIFA 18 will be unique to the platform, and there’s a continuing vagueness that raises questions about the version’s functionality and quality.
Speaking with Gamereactor, EA chief competition officer, Peter Moore, spoke briefly about the Switch version.
“Well, as we have said, we are custom-building a FIFA version for the Nintendo Switch,” Moore said of the game. “It will be FIFA 18, and it will obviously be later this year when FIFA 18 comes out.”
“What you have will be a custom built version for the Nintendo Switch from the FIFA development team in Vancouver,” Moore said when asked if the Switch version would be a slimmed-down version of the PS4-Xbox One version.
Interpret that however you want, but it’s easy to assume that FIFA 18 for Switch will be different to the version appearing on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
The most obvious is that Moore and EA have omitted any mention of Frostbite 3, EA’s powerful proprietary engine that drives the likes of Battlefield.
It was used for the first time in franchise history with FIFA 17, which allowed for the creation of The Journey, the game’s single-player, story-driven career more.
“Fundamentally we wouldn’t have been able to have The Journey without [Frostbite],” FIFA 17 producer Nick Channon told Fenix Bazaar at gamescom 2017. “We didn’t have the toolset to do a narrative story, to create a story as well as make it. Frostbite’s been used to make stories for quite a long time, so it’s allowed us to do that.”
While it seems unlikely that Frostbite 3 will drive the Switch version of FIFA 18, it’s clear that EA has high hopes for the console.
Speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference in November, Electronic Arts COO, Blake Jorgensen, hinted that the publisher behind FIFA, Titanfall, Battlefield and the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda will be bringing at least one of its big franchises to the table.
“In terms of Nintendo, in their announcement they announced that we’ll be supporting with a game or two on that new platform. We haven’t yet announced what game, but you should assume that it’s one of our bigger games we’ve been involved with,” he said.
EA does remain skeptical, however, and the publisher probably isn’t alone: the Wii U and Gamecube struggled to be relevant selling points for third-party publishers, while the Wii produced too much shovelware and casual games to justify bringing big-budget AAA to the console.
“We’re excited for Nintendo, it’s an interesting device, but I can’t yet predict how broad it’s going to be, and will people be interested in a portable device alongside their regular portable device that they have,” Jorgensen hypothesised.
Later that month, Moore spoke at the Credit Suisse 2016 Annual Technology Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
Moore was blunt in his assessment of Nintendo’s recent years, but he made it clear that the catalog of IPs, the strength of the development studios, and the constant innovation coming out of Nintendo made it an incredibly important part of the industry.
“Nintendo has always been and will always be an very important partner in this industry,” Moore said. “They have some of the best first party development studios in the world, and some of the most valuable intellectual properties in the world.”
Now of course, that’s no secret: everyone knows that Nintendo has the best first-party development on the planet. But it’s EA’s willingness to work with Nintendo and its new console that makes it clear just how impressive the new hardware is.
“We have announced publicly that we got a partnership with them on their new platform, the Switch, we haven’t talked in detail on what’s that about. You can imagine, as you heard, that a major game will be distributed on that platform.”
Moore said that the folks at EA were “huge fans” of Nintendo, with the two companies sharing a relationship that goes many decades back.
“They’ve had some difficult times as if recently obviously, but never, ever, ever discount Nintendo in this marketplace, and their ability to leverage their superb game development opportunities. Their intellectual properties, whether it’s Mario, whether it’s Zelda, whether it’s Metroid Prime, we could go on forever about what they can do… obviously Pokémon, we’ve seen more recently.”
The question remains whether FIFA is the “major game” EA was talking about bringing to Switch.
What do you think about FIFA 18 on Switch? Can it sell without Frostbite 3 behind it? Will you still buy it? Sound off below!