Team Meat, the wonderfully devilish developers behind Super Meat Boy and the soon to be released sequel, Super Meat Boy Forever, have been open about the fact that their Xbox Live Arcade title from the Xbox 360 days had incredibly close sales numbers to their launch back in 2010 when it launched this month on the Nintendo Switch. First of all, hats off to them for this sales victory– Super Meat Boy is definitely a game that not only stands the test of time, but deserves a revisited play-through for veterans and absolutely warrants a purchase for newcomers.
But beyond the well deserved accomplishment for Team Meat, what does this mean for other developers? In the first couple of months of the Nintendo Switch’s launch year, some would make the argument that the library of games was limited, though it launched with arguably one of the best video games ever made– Breath of the Wild— people would still shame the hybrid console. Fast forward ten months though, and you see the eShop flooded with new titles each and every week as well as consistent stream of retail games from both Nintendo and third parties. Although Super Meat Boy isn’t the only indie gem that’s received critical and monetary success on the Switch, it’s definitely one of the latest.
In the beginning of the Switch’s lifespan you could argue that certain games saw a boost in sales because the console was selling well and the library was rather limited, but since there’s an influx of games what’s the reasoning now? It’s no secret that the console is selling very well— better than it’s competitors in the same respective timeframe. So the fact that there are over 14 million units in people’s homes already is absolutely a key component in a game having the platform to perform well, but is this a trend that is going to sustain itself or will sales on games that aren’t the new triple A blockbuster see an impact over time.
It’s hard to gauge, and I don’t think the answer is as simple as one thought or sentiment nor does the Switch have a close enough comparison in the market to draw conclusions from. Something to consider is that within the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of games that get remastered or re-released. Whether it be a graphical update, a retooled version, or contain additional content or DLC all in one package– people are buying them so developers and publishers will continue to release them. There’re pros and cons to the fact that these have become so prevalent in our current gaming climate– the major pro being that some gamers may have missed out on some remarkable titles and now have the ability to experience some exceptional points of gaming history.
This applies to Super Meat Boy in a way that, not only is the title a memorable experience so players who have enjoyed it before would want to revisit it, but typically gamers who only play on Nintendo consoles may not have had access to certain titles. Granted it saw the Nintendo audience on the Wii U– the Switch surpassed the failed console in just 10 months so I cannot imagine many games found huge success on that platform.
I do believe one of the main factors with trying to calculate Super Meat Boy‘s success and other success stories on the portable home console is in the nature of what the Switch is. Being a portable home console, you are able to engage in games like Zelda, Mario, Skyrim, Doom, Splatoon 2, and so much more both on your television, or basically anywhere. So the desire to bring this machine with you is a constant yearning gamers have. I know I look forward to any journey that means I get to bring my Switch along for the ride. This accessibility makes gamers want to have a robust library so they can freely choose what type of escapade they’d like to immerse themselves in. I do not always have the time or desire to search for power moons or shrines, but I may want to contemplate snapping my Switch in half for an hour or two trying to 100% Super Meat Boy or serve up something delicious in Battle Chef Brigade.
These factors all build towards cases you could make as to why something like Super Meat Boy is seeing this level of success, but also it’s just a fantastic game– so that helps too. An interesting anecdote is that there’s still no Virtual Console on the Switch, so for indie games in particular, those can tend to fill the void of smaller titles that players may want to supplement their limited time gaming efforts with. I am definitely interested to see what games will be reaping the benefits of the Switch’s success, Celeste is probably next– but until then, I need to go collect some bandages.