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How to Port Video Games: Business and Technical Considerations Presented

The gaming business is growing rapidly and players may now play even more conveniently thanks to new technology
June 1, 2024

The ability to translate games across platforms is one of the most significant technological advancements in the gaming business. It requires a great deal of time and work; this is not a simple task. After all, transferring a game from iOS to PC might require many months of labor.

A video game that was developed for one platform, such as the Xbox or iPhone, may now be played on other platforms thanks to a process called porting. For instance, transferring a PlayStation game to the Nintendo Switch and PCs. It requires a lot more code effort to port games so they run on several platforms. However, it reaches a much larger pool of possible participants.

What is Game Porting?

The act of converting or moving a video game from one platform or system to another is referred to as "porting" in the realm of video games. It truly is similar to translating a book into other languages to attract a larger readership. Making your game playable on several platforms, including PCs, consoles, mobile devices, virtual reality (VR) sets, and other gadgets, is the main objective of game porting services.

A video game may be designed to be played on one platform (such as a PC) or several platforms (such as a PC and particular consoles). In both situations, the reach of your release may exclude certain sizable populations. As a consequence, you lose out on an established player base to cover, please, and, of course, monetize, while eager gamers miss out on a fresh title.

A lot of games are often released using the available resources (for the tried-and-true, most economical, or first chosen and prioritized platform), only to be ported when the appropriate moment arrives.

For example, a great number of PC gamers worldwide have been waiting for decades to be able to play select PlayStation-only titles (such as the Uncharted series, treasures like Heavy Rain, and The Last of Us) without actually having to purchase the platform or consoles.

What is Game Porting?

How Does Porting a Game Work for Different Platforms

Now you know how to port a game, but every gaming platform and gadget has unique qualities that set them apart from one another. Let's examine the aspects that should be taken into account while translating a game for the PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile platforms.

How Does Porting a Game to a PC Work?

How to port games to PC platforms like Windows, Linux, and Mac OS? It is generally more straightforward than porting to closed consoles. PCs have standardized programming interfaces like DirectX and OpenGL that work across different hardware. To port to a PC, developers modify the game's graphics and audio code to use these APIs appropriately for the target OS. The game also needs to be tested against a variety of PC hardware configurations to ensure broad compatibility. As PCs are usually more powerful than consoles, the port may also include enhanced graphics, resolutions, and frame rates compared to the original release.

How to Port Games to Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch ports face some unique considerations. As a hybrid portable/home console, Switch games have to work properly in both handheld and docked mode, each with different CPU/GPU profiles. The porting team has to test and optimize performance for each mode. Nintendo's custom OS and APIs also require porting the game's engine and middleware to use Nintendo Switch-specific libraries. As Switch has only 32GB internal storage, ported games also often undergo optimization to reduce install size. Motion controls may be added using Switch's gyroscopes and touch controls via its touchscreen.

How to Port Games to iOS and Android

The astonishing USD 184.4 billion was the market valuation for mobile gaming worldwide in 2022. With a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% from 2023 to 2032, the market is expected to soar to over USD 775.69 billion by that time. This incredible development trajectory is evidence of the growing popularity of the mobile gaming industry as well as its significant financial potential, which keeps pushing the trend of moving PC games to mobile platforms.

However, mobile devices have much less processing power compared to PCs and consoles. Extensive optimization is required, including reducing graphical quality and level of detail to ensure smooth performance. Screen size and input methods also vary greatly between devices, so mobile ports require UI and control adjustments for touchscreens. Network code may also need modification to account for mobile data connectivity. Apple iOS and Android also use different native programming languages, so the game logic has to be ported to use each platform's SDK appropriately.

How Can You Improve the Process of Porting Games between Platforms?

Following industry best practices is essential for achieving the greatest outcomes after comprehending the difficulties associated with game porting and creating successful tactics. Here are a few crucial methods to think about:

  1. Make code and resources more efficient. Optimizing the code and assets for every platform is one of the most important parts of porting games. This might include shrinking files, cutting down on load times, and adjusting the visuals to the specifications of the intended platform.
  2. Alongside the development team, cooperate. The porting of games may be greatly improved by efficient communication and teamwork with the developer team. The process may be facilitated and certain obstacles can be avoided with regular meetings, good documentation, and an agile development style.
  3. Comprehensive testing on several platforms. For a game to be seamlessly compatible with all platforms, testing is an essential stage in the porting process. The whole game should be tested, including the controls, visuals, music, and gameplay.
  4. Constant assistance and updates. Following the game's release across many platforms, it's critical to provide regular updates and assistance to enhance customer satisfaction and resolve potential problems.

Developers can guarantee a top-notch gaming experience across all platforms by using these recommended practices throughout the game porting process. Staying current with emerging trends and methodologies is also essential to staying ahead of the curve in game production.

Potential Difficulties Throughout the Procedure

Developers and designers face a range of difficulties while transferring games from one platform to another, even if they are not required to sketch and create the complete environment from scratch. Among the most prominent ones are:

Variations in Control

Depending on the platform, gamers enter instructions differently with PC games; for instance, users use the mouse to control the camera, while with mobile games, they may tilt the phone or swipe with two fingers. It is much more difficult to translate a game's controls correctly to the target platform while maintaining its intuitiveness and bug-free nature;

Juggling Performance and Visual Quality

Similar to how various platforms vary in terms of hardware, so too will their processing capacities. For high-end PCs, creating visually appealing games is simple. But can the ordinary phone match comparable visuals without significantly compromising on quality? Naturally not. Regardless of your skill level, most games need you to balance, thus getting it exactly perfect may be difficult;

Storefront Adherence

The most popular gaming stores will enforce certain restrictions unless you plan to self-publish your game. For example, games offered for purchase on the Microsoft Store have to be compatible with several Xbox controllers and screen ratios, be simple to install, and work with multiple Windows OS versions;

Various Languages for Programming

Occasionally, games are produced in languages that the intended platforms do not support. Consider a game created in C++ for the PC; in order to make it playable on a phone, the creators would probably need to completely redo it in C# or Java. Developers may need to rewrite substantial portions of the code since certain functionality and/or libraries from the previous platform may not work on the new one, exacerbating the situation.

What Is Required to Begin a Game's Porting?

Potentially include artists and animators, QA professionals, game designers, developers, or a few trustworthy technical partners who can assemble the porting team on your behalf. You (or your team) will need to get their development kits if you're porting to a console. Game companies either purchase kits that are supported by the console platforms or gain them via partnerships with them.

How Costly Is It to Port a Game?

Take into consideration the whole expense of modifying a game for every digital environment while transferring it. Analyzing trade-offs between cost and benefit refines platform selections.

Factors impacting the cost of porting:

  • knowledge of the codebase and engine languages;
  • needs for optimizing hardware performance;
  • redesigning control input systems is necessary;
  • procedures for platform provider certification.

For instance, because of their comparable technical specifications and common controller emphasis, Xbox to PlayStation consoles are easier to move across. However, transferring a game from a PC to a mobile device necessitates additional labor due to touchscreen limitations and lesser power mobile processor capabilities.

Taking into account the aforementioned elements, porting game costs might differ significantly. Smaller projects might cost between $10,000 and $50,000, while larger projects—especially ones requiring a lot of adaption or expensive games—could cost $1,000,000 or more. The size and complexity of the game, the requirements of the intended platform, and the team's level of experience will also all have an impact on the final budget.

Developers can more effectively allocate resources to the biggest upside alternatives when they are aware of platform port costs.

How Much Time Can Porting a Game Take?

Most indie games may be ported to several platforms in as little as six months; bigger, more sophisticated games might take up to a year to port, particularly if they're AAA+ titles. It may take three to four months to port a small independent game to a new platform, depending on the amount of work involved and the modifications required to ensure the game runs well on a different platform. Sometimes, "making the software perform well on new hardware" is why porting a game might take a long time, even if it seems light, simple, and has a little visual component.

Considerations for Choosing a Game Porting Company

Between 2024 and 2027, the Video Games market is anticipated to expand at an annual pace of 8.76%, with a predicted market volume of US$363.20 billion by that year. These numbers prove that porting games is worth the investment.

Reaching players' hearts means providing a flawless gaming experience. The repercussions of not providing it will be severe; gamers may quit their game experience in search of a seamless gaming experience. This is the point when you really have to think about how important it is to choose a reliable game porting business.

A game porting company's professional experience will guarantee that the mechanics and performance of your game run flawlessly across several platforms. The following elements should be taken into account when choosing game porting services since they will assist you in making the best decision.

Knowledge and Proficiency

Experience and competence matter most. Seek a business with a track record of success in the relevant field. Analyze its entire output and the extent to which its video games were effectively transferred.

Workplace Excellence

One factor that might assist you in making the best choice is the quality of the work. You may put your faith in a corporation that uses rigorous testing processes if that's the case with your product. Only a trustworthy business is aware of the value that excellent work has for its customers.

Price and Spending Plan

Remember that you won't always get the greatest deals if you choose the least expensive choices. Achieve equilibrium between affordability and excellence. Even if a firm is inexpensive, be sure it meets quality requirements and does the highest caliber work.

Reviews and Reputation

Finding the best partner for game porting services may always be aided by looking through business reviews. To determine their professionalism and degree of client happiness, you could also check for references and evaluations from prior customers.

Punctuality and Effectiveness

Seek a game translation business that is dedicated to meeting deadlines for project completion. Select a business that prioritizes efficient project management, open communication, and a well-organized workflow to guarantee project delivery on schedule without sacrificing quality.


Respecting all the details found in the game's original edition is crucial when porting a game. For the transferred game to seem identical to the original, all textures, sound effects, and polygon formats need to be converted accurately. Naturally, all of the lacking artistic materials may be made from the ground up.

There are many advantages and potential global exposure for your game project when you transfer it to the major platforms and engines. Of course, to provide gamers with the finest possible gaming experience, you should guarantee perfect operation. It takes a lot of work and is not simple. You may be certain that it will be worthwhile to port the game.

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