Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds will eventually be the same for all four platforms that it will be released on. However differing from the other platforms, at launch the Switch version of the game will have no online play. This was confirmed to Polygon by a representative for Saber.
Saber will patch online functionality “a few days after launch,” the spokesperson said. The representative also confirmed that the Switch version will be playable with a single Joy-Con controller held sideways. The developer also stated that they are targeting a frame rate of 60 frames per second on all four platforms. However NBA Playgrounds will not offer any enhancement for the PS4 Pro.
NBA Playgrounds will offer four person multiplayer action, but only one on-one-play online. Saber plans to add two-on-two online play after launch in an “early update”.
NBA Playgrounds online matching relies on the players leader board ranking. This will initially be the only way to access online games. So players won’t be able to invite others from their friends lists when the game first launches. The Saber representative told Polygon that the studio is aware of how important this feature is, and will add it in a post release update.
The online features of NBA Playgrounds will also allow players to participate in tournaments. At this point it is unclear how these tournaments will pan out. There will be a considerable amount of time before more will be known about them because they will too be missing at launch for all platforms. Again, Saber will patch in that feature at some point in the future; the spokesperson said “exact timing is TBD.”
All of these missing features aren’t uncommon even for games from major publishers. Titles like NHL 15 and Rory McIlroy PGA Tour were lacking at launch. Although a major part of NBA Playgrounds’ promise stemmed from the fact that unlike some other indie sports games released in the past few years it would launch with online play. “To me, without an online component, this is a half-assed game,” Saber president Matthew Karch told Polygon earlier this week. “I wouldn’t want to release this game without an online component.”
The Saber representative stated that at the time of the meeting, Karch wasn’t aware that the game would be missing online features at launch. NBA Playgrounds will be released May 9 for $19.99. The game will debut with online play on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.