Cloud gaming is considered to be the future of gaming by many industry leaders. Tech giants Google even threw their hat into the ring recently with the unveiling of Google Stadia.
Whilst Microsoft has been attempting to pioneer the venture for PC and Xbox gamers. Another of the industry leaders, Nintendo, may have had cloud gaming on the backburner when producing the Switch.
Word is getting over from Japan of the consoles amazing capabilities for running cloud gaming software. It would explain Nintendo’s current lack of third party AAA titles and the reason they didn’t attempt to match the PS4 for performance power.
So, is Nintendo planning to drop their own cloud gaming software in the near future?
What is Cloud Gaming?
First of all, what is cloud gaming? For anyone who missed Google’s presentation and with Xbox’s venture not yet off the ground. Simply put it grants the ability to play AAA games off an internal server, reducing the need for a console.
Similar to the Switch, cloud gaming promises to make titles playable wherever, whenever and on whatever. Take your game from your TV to your laptop to your phone, with your save data backed up on the cloud.
It is unclear yet how the systems will work but they will most likely be subscription rate, streaming services. Something akin to Netflix’s stranglehold on film and TV is what is seen to be up for grabs. So a similar business model would also make sense.
The big drawbacks are that many gamers are averse to change and often shootdown unfamiliar ventures. Motion controls and VR, for example, both have positives but hardcore gamers largely shunned the technologies.
And the general consensus is, they’re not on board with streaming services either. Many gamers in fact, still prefer to have physical copies of games as opposed to downloads. If the market doesn’t take to it, cloud gaming will be DOA before Google Stadia can launch this year.
There’s also the issue of internet connectivity which could largely affect the performance of gameplay. Service issues could make games unplayable for many and that will also affect their portability.
Nintendo Switch Cloud Gaming Capabilities
Nintendo prefers to be a trendsetter rather than follow their gaming rivals sometimes to their own detriment. They held out on a number of features for the Wii U that contributed to its significant underperformance in sales.
Most notably video services like YouTube and Netflix, both of which were still unavailable on the Switch in its first year. Another feature the studio held out on for far too long was cloud save data, something that only came to the Switch with the new subscription online service.
It seemed like Nintendo were simply playing catch up to PlayStation again but it could have been testing the waters for a bigger unveiling. As mentioned, one of the biggest issues with the Switch for hardcore gamers is its lack of third-party AAA titles.
Cloud gaming would remedy that and it seems the Switch is already running cloud software in its native Japan. More specifically Taiwanese company Ubitus’ streaming software GameCloud.
GameCloud has been up and running since 2001, at first serving at a SEGA emulator. It has grown over the years though and already offers AAA cloud gaming, primarily to Taiwan and neighbouring countries.
And Nintendo fans have been using it to run games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Resident Evil 7 on Switch. The former was even sold on Nintendo’s e-shop in Japan on the same day it launched on PS4 and Xbox worldwide.
The Ubisoft title was also shown off by Google Stadia so cloud gaming is obviously on the French studio’s mind too.
How Will It Work And Why Nintendo Switch?
Early feedback from those Eastern players is that games look and perform brilliantly on Switch. One reviewer even noted Assassin’s Creed Odyssey might be the best looking game on the console.
It’s also a format that’s dedicated for handheld gaming, with the precise and obvious control functions players expect. It remains to be seen how well cloud gaming will run on a phone for example, whereas the Switch comes tried and tested by games like Breath Of The Wild.
Nintendo has also been dropping some pretty heavy hints of a growing relationship with rival studio Xbox. With both studios currently in the dust of the PS4’s sales, an unlikely alliance could be on the cards in future.
On the day of Google Stadia’s announcement, Nintendo responded by announcing Xbox exclusive Cuphead was coming to Switch. Xbox has of course been working on cloud gaming for a while and it’s possible Nintendo is planning to use that software.
They’ve also announced Xbox Live support will also be coming to Switch, which is expected to power some of Nintendo’s online multiplayer. It’s not too much of a stretch to assume Nintendo also has future plans to utilise Project X Cloud.
Microsoft’s cloud gaming could easily be the industry standard and combined with the portability of Switch could make it the go-to console for cloud gaming.