Cloud Gaming REALLY Works On Nintendo Switch? Is It Possible, The arrival of next gen consoles always gets us thinking about what direction the games industry is headed in. Sony and Microsoft have differing approaches to value this time around, with the former maintaining their solid exclusives approach, and the latter putting all their value eggs in the Game Pass basket. That basket also includes Microsoft’s cloud offering – project xCloud – allowing players to stream their games across a wide array of devices. Cloud gaming also arrived on Switch recently, with the release of Control and the announcement of Hitman also headed to the system via streaming in the near future. Those games aren’t technically the first though, as Japan has also seen the release of Resident Evil 7, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Phantasy Star Online 2 in cloud form. So is the Switch also poised for a cloud gaming revolution?
Can Cloud Gaming REALLY Work on Nintendo Switch?
Whether Or Not The Switch Is Equipped To Handle Cloud Gaming
Ok so first things first, let’s dig into some specs. According to Microsoft, the bare minimum download speed required for 720p cloud gaming is 10MBps, with latency – which basically translates to the delay between your button presses and them being displayed on screen – below 50ms. There’s some variances in the guidance for Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, but that’s a solid benchmark. Before we even address the Switch itself, this means that you’ll need a solid router and internet connection. You’ll be wanting to hit around 35MBps on your chosen WiFi band for a stable connection, and whilst most routers should handle that ok, the router that’s given to you by your internet service provider won’t necessarily hit that easily and consistently. Moving onto the Switch itself and the good news is that the hardware within the system is more than equipped to hit those minimums.
It only has a single WiFi antenna, but is nevertheless equipped with 802.11ac MIMO WiFi support, giving theoretical speeds of 162.5MBps, though realistically it’s probably around half that. What this means is that unless you’ve got some insane gaming WiFi router, the Switch will easily hit the capacity available to you. Naturally the optimum way to play cloud-based games is with a wired connection but unfortunately the Switch falls down here because the dock lacks an ethernet port. You can buy an adapter of course, but out of the box, you’re looking at a sub-optimum, if sufficient, set up for the Switch. And this leads us neatly onto whether or not Nintendo actually care enough to optimise the Switch or any future console for Cloud gaming. Portable console that it is, if we were to perhaps get a Switch 2 with Cloud gaming as a substantial part of the equation, you would expect it to have some sort of cellular connection to allow for internet connections when a WiFi router isn’t available. This would realistically need to be 5G compatible to be truly viable for cloud gaming. But that’s just for the end user. At Nintendo’s end there’s questions about whether or not they have the technological capacity – or indeed expertise – to make a serious foray into cloud gaming. Microsoft’s xCloud supports 5G, and is helped no end by the fact Microsoft have existing data centers around the world. It utilizes those Azure data centers in North America, Asia and Europe and Microsoft says they’re building more too. Likewise, Google has plenty of expertise in this area, and multiple data centers from which it can run Stadia. And Amazon of course have the AWS, which it touts as the “most secure, extensive and reliable cloud platform”, a platform that it’s recently launched Luna service runs on.
Whether Or Not It’s Something Nintendo Are Actually Able To Pursue In Future
Nintendo don’t have that kind of infrastructure, nor are they particularly renowned for their online offering. One would expect that, should they decide to explore the cloud gaming route, they would have to find a partner for that. Obviously the relationship with Microsoft is strong right now, but until such time as they ditch hardware completely and Xbox simply becomes the name of their GamePass/Xbox Live/xCloud service, I can’t see Nintendo necessarily going down that route. It’s most likely they would return to Amazon, having used AWS during the launch of Super Mario Run. A case study on Amazon’s own website about that launch hints that it may well be an option in the future. Alternatively they could just leave it to the publishers to handle as they have with Control, but that presents issues of its own… Ultimately though, I just don’t think Nintendo consider cloud gaming to be viable for a mass market right now, nor do they anticipate it going that way in the immediate future. I’ve talked in other videos about how Nintendo are indicating that they’re not getting out of the hardware business any time soon, and as it stands, I think that’s the right call. Apart from anything else, Nintendo aren’t a company that caters exclusively to hardcore gamers. They’re a family company, who’s games are enjoyed by people of all ages and so until such time that basic internet packages are all providing lightning fast speeds and free, beefy routers, Nintendo aren’t likely to limit their audience in that way. It will be interesting to see, in ten years or so as the global internet infrastructure improves whether or not the industry fully embraces cloud gaming and what effect that has on Nintendo’s plans going forward. But for the time being, as well-equipped as the Switch is to handle cloud gaming, I can’t see Nintendo making it a core part of the experience any time soon.