One announcement that appears to have upset and confused many fans during the recent Super Smash Bros. Ultimate final fighter broadcast was the reveal of the cloud versions of Kingdom Hearts for the Nintendo Switch.
As much as this decision “sucks”, Nightdive Studios and Limited Run developer, Modern Vintage Gamer, has attempted to shed some light on the decision-making that might have gone on behind the scenes – suggesting ports of 1.5 and 2.5 would take Square Enix a lot of time, effort, and money, and that the financial return may not necessarily be worthwhile.
“Getting a game like Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 Remix to the Nintendo Switch, even though it sounds like it should be a no brainer, it should be something quite achievable – especially considering it has its roots on the PlayStation 2, as a lot of people will be very quick to tell me, is actually a pretty complicated project and I think what’s happened here is Square Enix has basically sent bids out to its development partners and asked them how long is this project going to take to build and I think they were probably a little surprised at the responses.
“For me, it sounds like a 2 plus year undertaking and many millions of dollars that would need to be spent – probably more than the budget Square Enix is looking to spend.”
If all of this wasn’t already enough to factor in, then there are the possible file size requirements of these collections, along with the cartridge pricing of Switch games:
“And the other thing we need to keep in mind with Kingdom Hearts and we’re just talking bout 1.5 and 2.5 – we haven’t even discussed Kingdom Hearts 3 yet. If you combine HD 1.5 plus 2.5 Remix together it comes out to about 50 GB, this is a very, very large game. And the question is now what size cartridge do we need to fit on Switch for physical and that would ultimately end up being a 64 GB cartridge. and the cost to manufacturer those cartridges becomes very, very expensive and for good reason.”
He goes on to suggest how not every developer wants to necessarily take on impossible ports for the Switch, as CD Projekt did with The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – Complete Edition:
“Before people tell me ‘CD Projekt Red and Saber Interactive was able to get The Witcher III running on Switch, why can’t they do the same thing here?’ Well, they absolutely can, but the end of the day Square Enix has decided that the cost that would be needed to basically foot the bill for this project to get it over the line, to get a good quality version of Kingdom Hearts HD Remix 1.5 and 2.5 to the Switch would just be too much money, the return on investment wouldn’t be anywhere near what they were looking for. So at the end of the day, I think the decision was made to move this game to the cloud, it’s going to make them more money in the front end, there’s going to be server costs and things like that to basically host the game, but I think that’s something they’ve taken into account.”
In regards to Kingdom Hearts III, it’s also not quite as straightforward as some might think – with MVG stating how there’s a lot of complexity when it comes to porting Unreal Engine 4 games to the Switch, and there’s “a lot” of optimisation required.
“This is not a simple port by any stretch of the imagination.”
MVG has noted on a number of occasions previously how he thinks the cloud is going to be utilised more often moving forward – and even goes as far as speculating that the ethernet port in the new Switch OLED dock may be to support future cloud plans.
“Unfortunately, these kind of bigger high budget triple A games that run on other systems, seeing them running on the Nintendo Switch in 2021 and beyond may be a difficult sell for many publishers, they may look to the cloud going forward. Ultimately, that’s what I think has happened with Square Enix and the Kingdom Hearts collection for the Switch…I would probably be prepared to see more of these announcements…at least until we hear what’s next for Nintendo”
What are your own thoughts about Square Enix’s decision to put its Kingdom Hearts games on the cloud, rather than port them across? Tell us down below.