Switch, Xbox and PS4: How to Choose a Porting Team for Your Title

In games, gaining success with your title just on one platform is, unfortunately, not enough. Nintendo Switch, PS4, or Xbox—these great consoles have an army of devoted fans who are desperately waiting for new bursting games. The fact that your game is not multi-platform at the moment doesn’t mean you have to restrain these audiences and the revenues they may bring. Having ported lots of different titles from PC to consoles and from one console to another for our partners, we at Room 8 can say that, in most cases, a proper port is a key for keeping the commercial curve of the title going up.

Without porting your games to other platforms, you significantly limit the game’s audience and, consequently, your profit. But on the other side, poor porting of some great title is worse than no port at all. So publishers and developers seek teams that can ensure the final result at a proper level, provide a turnkey service, stay within the budget and meet the submission deadline. Companies with massive resources that can be easily allocated for porting without affecting other projects can surely port it internally. But from Room 8 Studio’s experience, even these companies prefer to outsource porting to a specialized team.

Why does it happen, and how to choose a team that can provide excellent porting of your game to Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PS4, or all of them? Let us share our thoughts.

Simple Criteria To Wisely Choose An External Porting Team

Proper experience

Speaking about criteria, some of them seem obvious, like the experience of a team. But there’s more to that. Experience means a proven track record and big titles on the studio’s porting portfolio and the well-arranged processes and team alignment. Specialists that have worked together as a porting team on several successful projects will ensure a better understanding of the possible challenges and overcome them faster.

Seek technical expertise on a particular platform proven by official certification. Whether it’s Switch, Xbox, or PS4—each has its characteristics, performance capabilities, and control systems.

You would not want to entrust porting of your title to a team that will spend around a month or two only preparing for a project start. Because yes, getting the official platform’s certification, dev kits, installing all needed software, and documentation studying will take some time.

One more piece of advice concerning team experience, which also helps save resources and reduce project duration in the long run, is serial porting with the same reliable partner. That sounds clear and can be applied to any game development project, but it means even more here. Once you find a team that provides turnkey porting to consoles, commits to final results, meets the submission and release deadlines, and, what is most important, can preserve and transfer the user experience from the original platform to the new one, skillfully adapt it to new requirements—you’ll think about porting one more game with this team.

Therefore, choosing a partner, pay attention to those whose portfolio includes ports of several titles for one game publisher or developer. Such consistency from the partner’s side is one of the triggers that this team is a good choice for your porting project.

Team line-up

At the stage when you discuss a potential porting project with the new partner, pay attention to the team composition they propose. Having skilled developers is highly important but not enough. On top of developers, the proper porting team should always include specialists like QA engineers, technical artists, 3D modelers, and a producer on board.

When it comes to some unique, vivid 3D graphics, like in one of our recent ports to Switch—diving 3D adventure ABZU—you need to be ready for a considerable amount of work with game assets optimization. And even in the case of slight graphics adjustments, the help of the art team is priceless for correctly assembling art content in the build and making sure all assets work together well, creating a seamless experience.

Porting titles also require QA staff in your team: starting from early in-engine testing, performance testing, CI&CD process, and ending up with submission support.

A producer’s involvement hints that the project will be executed at a high level. Their ability to think strategically and hold a long-term focus while fulfilling each step of the porting process with determination and precision makes them irreplaceable people on a project.

Understanding this at the stage of a team setup will help avoid going beyond budget and timeline in the future. If needed, the ability to add some narrow-focused specialists to the team is also a positive indicator of partners’ team skillset and their scale-up opportunities.

Feasible estimations

Carefully study the proposed project estimation and assess how the game will run on the desired platform. If the prognosis looks too good to be confirmed with no compromise at all, that’s the reason to worry. After the external porting team got the game’s source code and spent some time playing, the following step is discussing compromises and what you are willing to sacrifice to fit into the requirements of the new platform. Such optimizations depend on the game complexity and the console specifications, but there is always something to do there.

What else can you do for the success of the porting project?

Once you decide to port your title, for example, to Nintendo Switch, consider porting to other highly popular consoles—Xbox and PS4—simultaneously. Whenever we did ports of a game into several platforms at a time, it proved to be reasonable and beneficial for both sides. For our partners, game publishers, and developers, it’s a chance to optimize the budget on a project and save time. When porting to different consoles runs in parallel, it significantly reduces the duration compared to sequential porting spread over several separate projects. Doing ports on Xbox, PS4, and Switch simultaneously the external team saves on setup processes as the working pipelines for any console are pretty much the same.

Bottom line

To summarize the criteria for choosing the best team for porting your most outstanding titles we suggested above, we want to entrust this work to professionals again. Achieving spectacular results with your game on a new platform instead of just getting the porting job done requires a mix of technical expertise, creative mindset, strong project management, and focus on this area of game development.

Have a project in mind? Let’s talk!

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    Elena Natsvlishvili
    Head of production
    Vadim Krayevoy