It’s 2017 and Hideo Kojima is still talking about “Transfarring.”
Speaking at RTX Sydney, a two-day video game convention hosted by Rooster Teeth!, the creator of the Metal Gear series told IGN that he sees Nintendo’s upcoming Switch gaming console as the next step in an evolution he imagined years ago with the feature known as “Transfarring” that allowed players to transfer saves between different versions of a Konami game.
“I believe [Switch] is an extension of that idea,” he said. “The fact you can play something at home and take it outside, this is the gamer’s dream. The Switch is an evolution of that.”
“Transfarring,” a phrase that to this day should never be written or uttered outside the safety of quotation marks, was originally revealed in 2011 right before that year’s E3. In a video, Kojima explained how the new feature would allow people share progress between the PS3 and PSP versions of games like Metal Gear: Peace Walker. It was supposed to be the beginning of a whole new “gaming lifestyle.”
The official description of the service included, among others, the following promise:
“TRANSFARRING will free you from restrictions of location or time, allowing you to play freely anytime, anywhere. Experience a new degree of freedom in gaming that may one day make console wars a thing of the past.”
At RTX Sydney, Kojima called for games to emulate movies and television in the ease and variety of platforms that people can use to enjoy the latter. While I can play the digital version of a downloaded movie or album just about any smart device, most games are still hindered by competing proprietary formats and software requirements.
Shortly after Kojima revealed “Transfarring,” the whimsically named game feature was already being made obsolete by things like Sony’s Cross-Buy and Cross-Save services. But for every indie game like Rogue Legacy or Titan Souls that supports the ability to share a single save file and game purchase between the Vita and PS4, there are games like World of Final Fantasy that don’t. Meanwhile, I can use Netflix and Spotify to save movies, television shows, and music locally to my phone so I can access them even when I’m not at home.
More recently, Sony’s tried to solve this problem with more robust Remote Play options. While being able to stream Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on PS4 to a Vita made helped gloss over the shortcomings of “Transfarring,” being able to stream PS4 games to any PC has helped take the dream of seamlessly playing games wherever, whenever, another step forward. But even then, Sony’s relationship with cloud computing and save syncing remains fraught.