To say the Nintendo Switch™ has been well-received is an understatement. The latest Nintendo quarterly earnings report shows that 19.67 million units have been sold since its launch in March 2017, and it looks on track to sell 20 million units by the end of the year. These impressive figures also trumpet the fact that Nintendo Switch has become the fastest-selling home video game system in U.S. history. As a result, independent (indie) developers around the world are scrambling to create content for the new platform. In a year, there have been over 300 games released by third-party developers for Nintendo Switch, and that number is only set to increase.
In order to catch this wave and best equip our students with the knowledge, capabilities, and environment to find success as developers for this new platform, DigiPen (Singapore) is excited to launch the GAT 405 elective class that has a focus on game development for Nintendo Switch.
It was a combination of factors—including good timing, good market response, and strategic relationships within the industry—that prompted DigiPen (Singapore) to launch GAT 405 this semester. Typical video game consoles have lifespans of roughly five to seven years, and Nintendo Switch is considered young at just one-and-a-half-years old. With its best days still ahead, early adopters in the game development circle have a good chance of shipping a title that captures an audience before the market reaches saturation point. Additionally, many indie studios are currently in the midst of creating and porting their games to Nintendo Switch.
With this new elective, students can look forward to gaining hands-on experience in developing specifically for the Nintendo Switch platform and are expected to produce at least one game prototype that is playable on the console by the end of the semester. The curriculum will expose each student to the entire game development process, from conceptualizing to prototyping and play-testing. Students will also have access to industry-standard middleware such as the Unreal Engine and Unity game engines. This allows the students to develop their projects more efficiently and focus their attention on the different aspects of game design.
“The module itself is design-centric, so students will be exposed to different ways of making games,” Jonathan Kwek, Game Software Design and Production faculty and lecturer for the GAT 405 elective, says. “I want to challenge everyone in class to rethink how they approach game design since Nintendo Switch is a great platform for that, and I’m excited to hear the ideas that the students come up with.”
Beyond creating game prototypes, students in the GAT 405 elective will also have a chance to hear from industry experts who have gone before them and shipped games for Nintendo Switch. The current lineup of speakers include representatives from Zengami, developer behind platform puzzle game TurtlePop: Journey to Freedom, and The Gentlebros, the studio responsible for award-winning action role-playing game Cat Quest. These guest speakers will share their insights on the challenges and benefits of developing games for the Nintendo Switch, along with other valuable advice to prepare them for the industry.
The potential of the Nintendo Switch, according to Jonathan, should not be ignored, and the runway for Nintendo Switch development is still long, making this an opportune time for DigiPen (Singapore) students and alumni to enter the market. “I believe Nintendo Switch will leave a good lasting memory on gamers in the history of consoles and may even change the way consoles and controllers are made. This ultimately has an effect on the way games are produced, and the future looks like a fun and exciting one for Nintendo Switch developers because of the many features it offers for creating fun gameplay and interaction,” he says.