Microsoft Explains How ‘Call of Duty’ Could Run on Nintendo Switch
Microsoft said in a recent filing with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it is “confident” it will be able to get games from the Call of Duty franchise to run on the Nintendo Switch (via The Verge).
The U.K. regulator wants Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard to exclude the flagship franchise entirely due to antitrust concerns. Microsoft President Brad Smith recently said that the company won’t sell the Call of Duty franchise, but is willing to offer competitors extensive licensing deals.
Last month, Microsoft finalized a binding 10-year licensing deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty and other games to the Switch, with “feature and content parity” and same-day releases for new titles, if it acquires Activision.
However, the Switch is significantly underpowered compared to a current- or even last-gen console. In the CMA filing, Microsoft explained how both free-to-play and “buy-to-play” Call of Duty titles, like CoD: Warzone and CoD: Modern Warfare 2, respectively, could be ported over to the Switch.
“The game engine that powers Warzone is mature and has been optimized to run on a wide range of hardware devices (ranging from the Xbox One console released in 2015 up to the Xbox Series X). Warzone supports PC hardware with GPU cards that were released as far back as 2015,” Microsoft said, pointing out that the Switch came out in 2017.
Microsoft went on to say that the developers at Activision “have a long history of optimizing game performance for available hardware capabilities.”
The company added that it is “confident” that Call of Duty titles could be optimized to run on the Nintendo Switch “using standard techniques which have been used to bring games such as Apex Legends, DOOM Eternal, Fortnite, and Crysis 3” to the handheld console.
While the Nintendo Switch’s custom Nvidia Tegra GPU is fairly low-end even by 2017 standards, it does indeed run Fortnite. Not well, mind you — the best it can offer is 30 FPS, but it’s playable.
Epic Games had to significantly downgrade Fortnite‘s graphics quality to bring it over to the Switch. Microsoft could use a similar strategy, sacrificing visual fidelity to make Call of Duty games run on the Switch.
In addition to Nintendo, Microsoft has also signed similar deals with other rivals such as Nvidia. The proposed Activision transaction faces opposition from Sony, which has also been offered a 10-year deal for Call of Duty by Microsoft but hasn’t signed it.
Microsoft’s licensing deals with competitors and readiness to sign more are why the company is expected to win the European Union (EU)’s approval for the Activision acquisition. The transaction also faces other regulatory hurdles, however, with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently asking a judge to block the merger outright.