Despite its success, the Nintendo Switch has a poor selection of MMORPGs compared to its competitors. The hybrid console deserves better choices.
The Nintendo Switch game library is the largest of any Nintendo console to date, with over 4,000 games available at present, but the Switch is still bizarrely starving for quality MMORPGs in 2022. Where Xbox gamers have console-exclusive access to Phantasy Star Online 2 and New Genesis, and PlayStation owners can enjoy Final Fantasy 14, the Switch offers only a handful of options. Some Switch MMORPGs are also available on the other major consoles, like the Switch versions of Skyforge and DC Universe Online, but in terms of both selection and quality, the Switch fails to match the competition in its MMORPG offerings. Just as how Switch Online is better in Japan, the Switch’s MMORPG selection is also better there, with titles like Dragon Quest X and Phantasy Star Online 2. For Western Switch gamers, the console’s MMORPG potential continues to go to waste.
The Switch’s weaker specs are often blamed for the lack of MMORPG support, but given the MMORPGs available for mobile devices, this argument doesn’t hold up. Many older MMORPGs that do not require powerful PCs, like Dungeons & Dragons Online and Ragnarok Online, are still active years after their initial launch dates. Console MMORPGs began to flourish with the last gaming generation. Xbox One and PS4 both saw games like Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Tera successfully establish themselves on Sony and Microsoft consoles, along with later successes like Black Desert Online and Bless Unleashed. Quality MMORPG titles like The Elder Scrolls Online are available for current Xbox and PlayStation consoles; the Switch instead received the inferior Elder Scrolls: Blades, which remains flawed in 2022 despite some tweaks and improvements.
Nintendo’s hybrid console provides a unique novelty, with its ease of transitioning from a portable system to a docked home console. MMORPGs on the Switch benefit from this function as much as any genre of game, enabling some casual play on the go and more dedicated gaming sessions on the big screen. Switch is host to MMO shooters like Fortnite and Warframe, as well as the free-to-play Monster Hunter-style action of Dauntless. With fewer traditional MMORPG options than the competition, some Switch gamers turn to quirky budget MMORPGs like Onigiri and Elemental Knights R to scratch the itch. The lack of polish and professionalism in these titles is obvious, but with fewer games to compete against, they stand out as being among both the best (and worse) Switch MMORPGs simply due to a lack of options.
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Dragon Quest X alone could significantly bolster the Switch’s MMORPG strength, but a Dragon Quest X Western release is not planned, according to the developers. Phantasy Star 2 Online holds similar potential, but it is an Xbox console exclusive in the West. Skyforge and DC Universe Online online are arguably the best MMORPG options currently available on the Switch in Western territories, but Skyforge suffers from translation issues and technical quirks (though not nearly as many as Onigiri) and the DC Universe Online superhero MMORPG format is more of a niche product. Nintendo published a successful mobile action RPG with Dragalia Lost, but the company has made no moves to port this title to the Switch. A Switch port of the wildly successful action RPG Genshin Impact was promised, but this has been delayed repeatedly, while the game’s PS4 version approaches its two-year anniversary.
One or two more high profile games like Genshin Impact or Dragon Quest X could improve the Switch’s MMORPG selection significantly. Developer HoYoverse recently had to reassure fans that the port of Genshin Impact for the Switch was not cancelled, as the absence of updates had caused some gamers to doubt it would ever happen. The future of MMORPGs on the Switch remains murky. The massive library of more than 4,000 games the Switch hosts is largely thanks to its successful e-store. It is the first Nintendo console to receive such robust third-party support for digitally downloadable games. Despite this popularity, Nintendo continues to play catch up with online functionality. The Switch has the most MMORPG options of any Nintendo console to date, but the gap in both quality and quantity between those offerings and the MMORPGs available for Xbox and PlayStation gamers is evident.
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