Third-party publishers had a bit of a resurgence on Nintendo platforms in 2017.
The eShop during the first year of the Switch’s life has been filled with several different titles from Team17. All considered favorites upon release. Yooka-Laylee from Playtonic Games, Overcooked, and even The Escapists 2. Yooka-Laylee was a promised return to the classic style of the 3D platformer ala Banjo-Kazooie from the N64 era. It had a few bumps in its release but hit off as the definitive edition when it came to the Switch, even getting some assistance from Nintendo in the transition. Overcooked became a sensational must-have multiplayer game that worked great with the versatility of the multiple controllers on the Switch. The Escapists 2 brought another exciting look at prison breaks from a top-down 2D a perspective. Team17 has been a fantastic supporter of the Switch this first year and it will only be more exciting to see what they will be bringing in the years to come.
Nicalis has taken over the eShop on the Switch. From the launch of the console with the Binding of Isaac Afterbirth +, to additions such as Cave Story +, The End is Nigh, VVVVVV, and more. Nicalis’ presence on the Switch from the beginning has been a big part in the success of the library of games available throughout the console’s first year. The publisher’s large, diverse games available, and the amounts sold may have been a big step in motivating other teams to bring their libraries to the eShop as well. The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth + even got a physical release at the launch. It’s been a blessing to have them around, and it is exciting to see where they’ll head next.
Bethesda's initial appearance during the Switch debut video last October caused a raft of speculation. Was Skyrim just coming to Switch because it's coming to everything with a microchip? Their prior experience with Nintendo systems was publishing a couple of Wii party games, and they sat out the Wii U entirely.
Then in September, they announced Doom (2016) and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus were coming to the Switch. This got people's attention.
In 2017, while the other major Western third parties pivoted to multiplayer and connected games, Bethesda saw an opportunity to become the single-player wing of the single-player party. The Switch is uniquely suited to single-player games that have become Bethesda's hallmark, and Bethesda made smart development decisions in bringing in Panic Button to handle the FPS ports. Nintendo also showed Bethesda faith by skipping the “week before Black Friday” slot on Switch and leaving it to Skyrim, which becomes a far less daunting experience while portable.
2018 is going to be an interesting test for the relationship – could we see Prey (2017) or a Fallout game? But in the meantime, we'll always have the Dragonborn and the marine.