Nintendo fans hope that the ultra-popular Duty series would eventually come to Switch got an unexpected boost last night. That’s when Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced that the company had “achieved a 10-year commitment to bring Duty to Nintendo following the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King.” The announcement comes alongside a similar announcement promises to keep Duty on Steam for the same time period.
If the “10-year commitment” part of those announcements sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s the same length of time that Microsoft has reportedly formally offered to release the Duty franchise on PlayStation consoles. That followed an offer in September to keep Duty on PlayStation for another three years, which Sony called insufficient in public statements. But Spencer has gone much further in his public statements, saying in October that Microsoft would continue to deliver a PlayStation Duty “as long as there’s a PlayStation to ship to.”
However, the Nintendo announcement is considerably more surprising given that Duty has not appeared on a Nintendo console since Call of Duty Ghosts came to the Wii U in 2013. That game came a year later Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 became a surprise launch title for the ill-fated console.
Switch things up
From a business point of view, the best-selling Switch is a much more attractive target for Activision and/or Microsoft than the Wii U ever was. But the Switch’s limited hardware power makes Duty something uncomfortably fitting for a series that has always focused on top-notch presentation on modern consoles and PCs.
On the other hand, limited hardware power didn’t stop a series of scaled-down Call of Duty conversions for the Nintendo DS through 2011 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Defiance. Other developers have turned to streaming versions to get their high-end games available on the Switch, especially in Japan.
Modern FPS titles from War face and Demise have seen low resolutions squeezed onto the Switch in recent years with mixed results. But continued rumors of a more powerful “Switch 2” in the coming years would certainly have some potential Duty ports less of a development lift.
The possibility of a Switch version of Duty doesn’t exactly come out of the blue for Microsoft. Speaking at a Wall Street Journal Live event in October, Spencer said, “When I think about our plans, I’d like to see that [Call of Duty] on Switch and playable on many different screens.” In almost the same breath, however, he said that “this opportunity is really about mobile” and the 3 billion potential customers who can play Duty on a smartphone.
“Microsoft is committed to bringing more games to more people, however they want to play,” Spencer said in its Tuesday night announcement.