Valorant Console Release — Could It Happen?
With Riot’s highly anticipated class-based first-person shooter right around the corner, many are wondering whether a Valorant console release is in the cards as well. Officially speaking, Riot said they’re focused on PC first and that shipping a well-balanced, fully-functioning game is at the top of their priorities — subsequent releases are still way off.
Regardless, it’s impossible not to wonder whether they’re planning to port Valorant over to consoles as well. The gaming industry is rapidly changing. With next-gen consoles hitting the shelves this holiday season, Riot needs to rethink their strategy of being a PC-exclusive kind of developer.
They built a lot of hype with their upcoming first-person shooter. Many are already predicting it to be the “next big thing.” Frankly, Valorant looks like a combination of CS:GO and Overwatch with a unique Riot twist on top. That sounds like a recipe for success if there ever was one.
Let’s take a closer look at the current gaming/esports landscape and focus a bit on why Riot needs to make a Valorant console release happen in the future.
The Times Are Changing
The gaming realm is changing, and fortunately, it’s for the better. First, PC gaming has never been this affordable and lucrative. Many IPs previously exclusive to either Sony or Microsoft are on PC as well. If you’re after the best graphics and the highest frame rates, playing on PC is the only viable choice. That’s a fact.
Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding will release on PC this year, along with Guerilla Games’ spectacular Horizon Zero Dawn. We’re talking Game of the Year candidates ported months or years after their initial release. Those are two examples, but the list is much longer. In the past, these games lured in potential buyers to bring them into an ecosystem of sorts.
If you wanted to play Gears of War or Forza Motorsport in the past, you had to buy an Xbox because that’s the only possible solution. In 2020, however, Microsoft has made almost all their previous exclusives available on PC as well. They will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In that sense, if you own Game Pass and have a spec’d-out PC, there’s no reason for you to buy the upcoming Xbox Series X. They’re committed to the PC side of the gaming spectrum equally as much, and that’s spectacular.
Sony and Microsoft are no longer trying to reinvent the wheel. You know what you’re getting by buying either of their consoles. You probably already belong to one tribe or the other. The difference in game libraries are shrinking by the minute. While there are still legendary exclusives like God of War, Killzone, and the like, they’re no longer a big enough reason for you to shell out up to $500. Well, that’s a subjective thing, but the point still stands.
This also brings us to streaming. It’s still not as ever-present as some companies would lead you to believe, it’s the future. Google Stadia, GeForce Now, Microsoft xCloud, PlayStation Now, etc. The list is long. While not all of them provide the same smooth experience, they’re improving as time goes on.
Nowadays, if you own a subscription to any service listed above and have fast enough internet, you could theoretically play top-tier triple A titles in 1080p in 60 FPS on a chromebook. The times we live in!
Microsoft is extremely open-minded and is spearheading this tectonic shift in the industry.
Others, therefore, need to follow suit or they’ll miss out — not just on the revolution itself but on revenue as well.
All of this leads us to a fascinating and yet entirely logical leitmotif that’s present in gaming right now. Developers focusing on releasing their products on as many platforms as possible.
From a financial standpoint, this makes all the sense in the world. Yet for many, many years, it simply didn’t happen. There’s still this stigma in the community. If you’re not playing at a million frames per second in an obscene resolution then you do not have the “optimal” experience. Higher settings and frame rates equate to a better overall experience, but they are by no means a necessity.
As this notion subdued over the years, we were able to see a small revolution.
Take the Nintendo Switch, for example. You can play DOOM, Wolfenstein, Overwatch, and even The Witcher 3 on a portable console that’s weaker than most of today’s flagship mobile phones. You can play Overwatch while waiting in line at the post office or the supermarket. Is that not spectacular?
You can also queue up for a game of Fortnite, Warframe, SMITE, or Paladins — all free-to-play titles that are available on the Nintendo eShop. Most people who own a Nintendo Switch wanted one for its portability. They’re probably not hardcore gamers who require the highest settings imaginable. Yet they’re gamers all the same.
By porting their products to as wide a range of platforms as possible, developers stand a much bigger chance of finding success and, by proxy, revenue.
This is why a Valorant console release needs to happen further down the line.
The PC and console realms are slightly merging, and it’s happening in a way no one expected. Upcoming consoles will have a PC-like architecture and will be one step closer to full-fledged PCs. They’ll have the same processors and graphics cards, albeit slightly tweaked and tuned. If you buy a next-gen console in 2021, you’ll be purchasing a small form-factor PC that has a Sony or Microsoft logo on it.
We finally see a shift in the industry, and it’s arguably the biggest one in history.
Epic Games perhaps did this best. They realized the inherent potential present in Fortnite and decided to port it to as many platforms as they could — and port they did! You can play their most popular title on PCs, consoles, tablets, mobile phones, and so on. Everyone can join in on the fun regardless of their preferred platform.
By staying a PC exclusive, Valorant will not reach its full potential. It’s the perfect kind of game for a wide range of platforms because of its slightly modest graphics and moderate hardware requirements. Valorant could run on Nintendo Switch and even on today’s flagship mobile phones.
So why not harness such potential? There’s no negative side-effect to such a decision. Those who want the best settings and graphics can always play on PC. Those looking for a more casual experience should also have the opportunity to enjoy the game, especially on the go. By including both sides, Riot could earn more money in the long run, so it’s a win-win situation.
Riot and Mobile
The reason why people think a Valorant console release could happen is that Riot recently made a shift in philosophy. Mobile gaming is more lucrative than people think. Heck, Tencent made more money from Arena of Valor last year than from League of Legends. Let that one sink in.
As a result, games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra announced mobile versions (and consoles in Wild Rift’s case). Riot realized the sheer potential and has done all that is within its power to capitalize fully. Who doesn’t want to have League of Legends in their pocket?
For Valorant, they’re probably focused on releasing a balanced, bug-free game on PC first, which is the right course of action. Riot probably didn’t expect the amount of hype and momentum Valorant would have just mere months after getting announced. Back when they revealed their first FPS, we knew it was fast-paced, class-based, and more akin to CS:GO than Overwatch. Project A did pique everyone’s interest but its announcement didn’t exactly break the internet.
Now, however, it’s being touted as a revolution. This, of course, is a huge exaggeration, but people have faith in Riot and with good reason. They’ve ticked all the right boxes with Valorant. The potential for it to succeed is undoubtedly there.
With Riot moving most of their games over to mobile as well, the idea of Valorant released on consoles doesn’t seem so farfetched. On the contrary.
Riot and Tencent
Tencent, Riot’s parent company, made huge moves in the mobile gaming realm, and basically, all of them have paid off tenfold. They’re aware of the immense potential that mobile gaming has and are currently the biggest player on the market.
While they do allow Riot to function as a separate entity, it’s no secret that they’re one of the bigger reasons why we see stuff like Legends of Runeterra on Android and iOS. They have the resources and can rake in as much profit as possible. To do so, porting as many games as they can over to mobile is their No. 1 priority. This should, in theory, be true for Valiant as well. Not releasing it on other platforms is quite literally a wasted opportunity.
Now, the relationship between Riot and Tencent doesn’t necessarily have to result in a Valorant console release, but there’s a good chance of it happening.
Releasing Valorant on as many consoles as possible is arguably the smartest business decision. While nothing is certain, we know that Riot is led by smart people who know what they’re doing, otherwise, they wouldn’t have found so much success with League in the first place.
Because of this, it feels like Valorant on consoles is more a matter of “when” rather than “if.”