Rocket League launched on Nov. 14 on the Nintendo Switch, and the game’s first day of operation was the kind of non-event that many developers pray for. The game is out, you can buy it, people know about it and everything is working the way it should. It felt effortless, which is how you know a lot of effort was involved.
We don’t know how many copies of the game sold on the Switch, and it’s unlikely we’ll get any clarity on that question soon. That would be an issue for most multiplayer games, since the ability to find a game with other folks at your skill level in a small amount of time is so important to your enjoyment of the game. But Rocket League didn’t have that issue; there were over 80,000 concurrent players on the server that first night. It took me seconds to jump into a match, and bots jumped into rounds when human players quit. It felt ... well, perfect.
The secret is that Switch players are entering an ecosystem that includes other Switch players, Rocket League players on the PC as well as the Xbox One players. Rocket League fans on the PlayStation 4 have been isolated, but that was Sony’s decision.
“[Cross-platform play on the PS4 is] literally something we could do with a push of a button, metaphorically,” Jeremy Dunham, VP of publishing at Psyonix, told Polygon at E3 this year. “In reality it’s a web page with a checkbox on it. All we have to do is check that box and it would be up and running in less than an hour all over the world. That’s all we need to do.”
And the Switch version of the game shows how powerful a weapon cross-platform play can be for everyone involved. The PC and Xbox One communities get an influx of new talent, while Switch players get to jump into a scene that is already stable and competitive.
You can flip a toggle if you’d only like to play against other players on the Switch, of course, but why would you? The system already does a good job of matching you with players of similar skill, and the player pool is deep enough to make that an effective option. The Switch version even offers offline local play if you happen to be in a situation with a lot of Switch systems and copies of the game.
Rocket League is offering robust, stable and thriving online options for competitive and casual games, and you can thank the ability to play against and with fans on other systems. This is a rare situation where everyone is working together, and everyone is winning.
Except the other two players on my team.