The idea of Nintendo Switch game cloud streaming makes total sense. The Switch is a vastly underpowered device compared to the other guys on the market. So there’s almost no chance of seeing upcoming graphically demanding games like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or Battlefield 2042 run natively on Switch hardware. And for people who only have a Switch, this is a great way for them to play new games without buying a new device. Unfortunately, despite game publishers selling cloud-only games at full price on the Nintendo Switch eShop, the functionality just does not work at an acceptable level of performance yet.
Using a hardwired connection, I tested out all of the cloud streaming-only games I could find on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Oddly enough, my experience was wildly different across multiple games.
When I first took control of my character in The Forgotten City, I was immediately greeted by huge chugs in the performance. The game froze for a second or more multiple times in the first three minutes. Keep in mind this is a slower-pace game. So right out of the gate, I was skeptical. Then Hitman 3 performed similarly. Combat in the game was nearly impossible, with fuzziness and chugging galore.
Speaking of fuzzy, A Plague Tale: Innocence looks the worst of them all, especially when spinning the camera around. It’s all just one big explosion of color — even playing hardwired with a really solid internet connection. This is essentially the best performance Nintendo Switch cloud streaming is capable of. Let’s hope the sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence, A Plague Tale: Requiem, looks and performs better when it comes to Nintendo Switch cloud streaming next year.
One beacon of hope
Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad. My experience with Control was pretty good and is currently the one beacon of hope for Switch game streaming. The input delay was barely noticeable, which is a huge feat. And after shutting off motion blur and film grain, Control almost looked like it was running natively on my Switch. I had no problem with combat either! It’s pretty ironic that I had the least amount of issues with the one cloud-only game that is extremely fast-paced.
I think Nintendo Switch game cloud streaming does not yet work at the level of performance it should for developers to be able to sell streaming-only games on the eShop. Right now, it’s just not a satisfactory or reliable way to play games on Switch. Hopefully gamers are reading the fine print and testing out the demos for streaming-only games before purchasing.
Nintendo often catches flack for its less-than-great online experience. Hopefully game streaming is an area of focus for the company, as more studios are seeing it as a viable way to sell games on Nintendo Switch. Have you tried out any cloud-based games yet? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below, or join the discussion over on our Facebook page!