'Overwatch' Switch Release Date Needs One Feature to Be Worth Your Money
It seems the impossible dream is becoming reality: Blizzard’s mega-successful online shooter Overwatch is coming to Nintendo Switch. But while an official announcement has yet to be made, there is already one question that looms large: Will Blizzard finally implement cross-saves?
A few weeks after an Amazon listing for an Overwatch-branded Switch case briefly went online, Kotaku confirmed through sources that Nintendo will reveal Overwatch for the Switch later tonight during a scheduled Nintendo Direct livestream. The event begins at 6 p.m. Eastern and will be available to watch via Nintendo’s website and on YouTube.
The Overwatch Switch release date is expected to be October 18 in the UK. Kotaku speculates that an October 15 release date for the U.S. is “likely.”
Talk of Overwatch on Switch has loomed over the game’s community since the 2017 release of Nintendo’s hit hybrid portable/home console. While the game’s online requirements may be demanding, its stylized, cartoon-esque graphics seems to be within the realm of the Switch’s limited horsepower. For fans, simply being able to take Overwatch on the go has been an enticing scenario to warrant ongoing speculation on Reddit, YouTube, and Blizzard’s forums.
But getting to escort payloads on your daily commute isn’t enough. The real, big picture question regarding Overwatch on Switch now is the potential possibility for cross-saves. In other words, will the release of the Switch port also allow Overwatch fans to keep their progression (and earned loot) across consoles and PC? Or will Overwatch on Switch be a new beginning for both newcomers and veterans who’ve played since the game’s launch?
Even before the game’s port to Switch, cross-saves have been a demanded feature by the Overwatch community for years. The game exists on multiple platforms — currently Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC — yet even now, it prohibits players from keeping progress across platforms.
For example: If you have a PC and a PlayStation 4 and you love Overwatch, you either have to stick to just PC or PS4, or buy two copies of the game and maintain two different accounts with two entirely separate progressions. Neither your win/loss records nor gear — collected through a lottery-like loot box system — can be shared across accounts.
Cross-saves, should it be implemented, could allow fans to connect a single Overwatch profile across multiple online console/PC accounts. Cross-saves could let players keep their coveted, hard-earned loot (such as novelty player skins) no matter what they play on, be it Switch or Xbox One.
And Blizzard has spoken publicly about cross-saves before. In a 2018 interview with PCGamesN, game director Jeff Kaplan said cross-saves are “very challenging” to pull off, but something Blizzard is experimenting with.
“This is something that we have ongoing and frequent discussions about with our tech group,” Kaplan told PCGamesN. “It’s something we would very like to explore. It’s very challenging for many reasons, and I won’t get into all the details as to why, but I think it’s a very valid desire that our players have and it’s something that the Overwatch team would love to figure out. We will continue to work hard on it to make it happen someday, if we can get around some of the challenges that we’re faced with.”
Cross-saves were a highly-requested feature before today, but when the game releases on Switch, players will inevitably want to keep the progress they’ve made and gear they’ve won on the go. You can almost anticipate the outrage Overwatch fans will express when they’ve won a coveted skin on Switch, and then have to only continue playing on Switch when they’d rather play on a more powerful console at home.
It’s a champagne problem, to be sure. The planet is on fire and democratic institutions are crumbling, but getting to keep Sentai Genji or Atlantic All-Star Tracer no matter what console we have is a happiness worth holding out for.
A release date for Overwatch on Nintendo Switch has yet to be revealed.