Per Jackbox Games, Jackbox Party Pack 3 is coming to the Nintendo Switch soon:
We're excited to announce that The Jackbox Party Pack 3 is coming soon to Nintendo Switch™! pic.twitter.com/g5xS8fEikY— Jackbox Games (@jackboxgames) February 1, 2017
I've had this in the back of my mind since the Switch was first announced; I think this game could be THE best showcase of mobile Switch multiplayer.
Right from the get-go, there was quite a bit of the speculation around the usability of the Switch's multiplayer when undocked. The options for making this happen are:
Everyone can bring their own Switch to the gathering and play on their own screen.
Multiple people can play on a single screen with a controller, Joy-Cons or an individual Joy-Con.
A combination of the two previous options where there are multiple Switches and multiple people playing on each Switch.
Each have their drawbacks, but the main issues are that options 1 and 3 involve multiple Switches, which is somewhat unlikely to happen, especially around launch. Options 2 and 3 require multiple people to play on the same screen. The screen is not huge by any means, which could make it difficult to play multiplayer on one screen. On top of that, people will either have to have multiple pro controllers, multiple pairs of Joy-Cons, or players would have to use a single Joy-Con to control the action. The multiple controllers problem is even more pressing given the expensive price tag on all of the Switch's accessories.
Jackbox Party Pack does not solve any of these Switch problems by any means, but it does circumvent them.
First, the equipment issues. Jackbox Party Pack avoids these problem entirely by only requiring one controller and one console to run the game, even when multiple people are playing. Because phones, tablets and computers are the controllers for the Party Packs, there is no need to worry about who has a console or controller, if they can bring them to the get together or anything along those lines. The Nintendo announcement seemed to sell the idea that you could just hop over to your friend's rooftop, set your Switch on the table, shove a single Joy-Con into their hand and let the good times roll. While this might be a little unrealistic, if you swap out "handing someone a controller" for "telling them to get out their phone", Nintendo's vision looks a little bit clearer.
Because of the way Jackbox Party Pack conveys its information, the small screen issue is almost eliminated as well. When playing the majority of Jackbox games, most of the information is given to the players via their phone in addition to being displayed on the main screen. It is common that you can only see scores and other results on the main screen,so there will likely still be times when 8 people are be packed around the Switch looking around each other to try to see the screen. This limited requirement of the main screen is a heck of a lot better than leaning on it 100 percent of the time trying to decipher who's who in a game of NBA2K or squinting at a quarter of the screen to beat your friends at Mario Kart.
Jackbox Party Pack 3 will not completely eliminate all of the potential problems with Switch mobile multiplayer, and might introduce a few more. For example, as it stands now (to my knowledge) playing a game of Party Pack 3 requires a constant online connection. If you want to play this in the park, or in a cramped van with your family on your way to Mount Rushmore, you're out of luck. If one of your friends doesn't have a required device, there's no way to make up for that with an additional controller unless someone has an extra phone nearby.
All of those things considered, I think the potential when combining this game with the Nintendo Switch is immense. The Jackbox Party Packs have been some of my favorite multiplayer experiences in recent years. Having the ability to take this same experience to a bar, airport or anywhere else (with Wi-Fi) is incredibly exciting. This is part of the idea that Nintendo is trying to sell the Switch on: you can have the same console experience you know and love at home and take it out and about with you, multiplayer included. I still have doubts about whether or not real-life-non-rooftop-party-people will actually play multiplayer on an undocked Switch, but I think if any game can knock that idea out of the park, it is Jackbox Party Pack 3.