Many years ago, Nintendo used to rule the roost when it came to video game consoles. The company had the edge over Sega for the first half of the 1990s and went head to head with the very first PlayStation by launching the Nintendo N64. Things have changed a lot since then. The Nintendo Gamecube didn’t catch on in the way that the Japanese company hoped it might, and from there, they changed strategy and started targeting a different type of customer with the Nintendo Wii. The net effect of that shift in focus is that whereas games used to come to Nintendo hardware first, they’re now generally at the back of the queue.
Being at the back of the queue can be frustrating for Nintendo Switch owners – especially when there’s a popular new game they want to play, and everyone else has already had access to it for several months. As a case in point, today we’re talking about “Doom: Eternal.” It’s been available for PC, Stadia, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 since March 2020, with promises made to bring it to Nintendo’s popular handheld console at the time of that initial release. It’s taken a while for Bethseda to make good on that promise, but they’ve finally got there, and it will become available before the end of the year. The Switch version of “Doom: Eternal” is available to buy as of December 8th – handily timed for anyone looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the Switch owner in their life.
While not all big-name video games arrive on the Switch, “Doom” is a little different. It’s one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time and arguably made the concept of the first-person shooter popular (although it might have some competition from “Operation Wolf” in that respect). There have been five ‘main’ games in the franchise to date, and the series has even been adapted for the big screen in a movie that starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The fact that the movie was so bad that even its star hated it takes a little bit of the shine away from that achievement, but movies based on video games are a rare thing. It’s a mark of how successful a video game property is that anyone would consider making a movie about it at all.
Despite the commercial and critical failure of the 2005 film, “Doom” still has legs outside the confines of game consoles and gamers. According to reports that appeared online in May 2020, a live-action television series based on “Doom” is currently in development with Universal and might be ready for broadcast in either late 2021 or early 2020. It also briefly became an online slots attraction. Although you won’t find it anywhere online now, an UK Slot Games featuring sound, animations, and video lifted directly from the original 1993 version of “Doom” was briefly a hit at internet casinos. As is the case with films based on video games, online slots based on video games are few and far between and rarely successful. We don’t know why the seemingly-official “Doom” online slots game was taken offline, so it might be that it was as badly received as the movie, but it’s still an achievement to get there in the first place.
Aside from the tie-in media and the success of the franchise in other mediums, the big news here is that Nintendo Switch players will (finally) be able to get their hands on “Doom: Eternal” for the first time, but when we say “get their hands,” we mean it in the metaphorical sense as opposed to literally. As of the time of writing, Bethesda isn’t planning on releasing physical copies of the game to stores. It will only be available as a download through Nintendo’s eShop and might remain that way forever. It will also be a slightly trimmed-down experience compared to what’s available on the full console versions. The Switch port of “Doom: Eternal” will come with Battlemode and multiplayer features, but multiplayer and campaign mode is all that you’re getting. The “Ancient Gods” expansion pack, which is already available on consoles and PC, isn’t available at launch. It might be that Bethesda decides to add it at a later date, but they haven’t yet confirmed any plans to do so.
While it’s a little frustrating not to get the ‘full package’ of options available to everybody else, we have to bear in mind that from a technical point of view, the Nintendo Switch is limited compared to the full-sized consoles. On top of that, Bethesda has other priorities at the moment. The new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are (nominally) available, which means there’s a new audience to cater for. The company has already confirmed that it will be releasing an ‘optimized’ version of “Doom: Eternal” for the new generation of consoles, so presumably, its teams are hard at work on that project as we speak. The upgraded version will be free to download for anybody who has a current-gen version of the game already, and so it seems that, like the Switch version, it will only exist as a digital purchase rather than something you can walk into a store and buy.
We might never have got a Switch version of “Doom: Eternal” at all had it not been for the incredible surge in popularity of Switch consoles earlier this year, which saw them spend a few months totally out of stock everywhere in the world as people went out to buy them as lockdown entertainment. In some regions, demand continues to outstrip supply in the run-up to Christmas. Nintendo wasn’t ready to serve so many new customers at once, but there is an upshot of the sudden rush – it means that games will continue to be developed for the Switch for many years to come, and that some games that might not have been considered for a Switch release previously are now back on the agenda. Whether it’s the latest version of “Doom” or something else, Switch owners can look forward to a full schedule of game releases well into 2021 and beyond. If all you want for now is “Doom: Eternal,” though, remember that the ‘go live’ date is December 8th, and you’ll need to go online to get your copy.