What Is Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming and How Does It Work?

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming Featured

On its own, the Nintendo Switch has already shown it’s more capable than originally believed. Nintendo’s game library has shown numerous titles that have pushed the Switch to the very limits of its hardware with fantastic results. While it still falls short graphically of the PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Xbox Series X, hope is on the horizon thanks to Cloud Steaming. Bringing additional AAA titles to the console, Nintendo Switch cloud streaming is absolutely something to take a closer look at. 

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming Animal Crossing

What Is Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming?

In the most basic terms, this cloud streaming service will enable full games to run on the Switch’s current hardware as well as it would on other consoles without the need for a faster or more powerful CPU and GPU. Similar to how Google Stadia works, Nintendo is powering streaming titles off of a server and not installing them locally on the console itself. As long as you have a solid internet connection through Wi-Fi, everything should feel very much like you are playing natively with a cartridge or download. 

How Does It Work?

As the game is pushed to the Switch via Wi-Fi, control movements and button presses are sent back to the server. It’s as simple as that. There’s no fancy software requirement or separate installation. It’s all done through the cloud. Nintendo doesn’t specify the exact requirements for the internet other than to say you can try a cloud streaming title at no charge to ensure your connection speed is sufficient. 

Do You Need a Subscription?

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming Hardware

There is no requirement to have a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online to play any of the available cloud streaming titles. For now, Nintendo doesn’t offer a separate or inclusive streaming subscription. At least for the moment, Nintendo is asking customers to purchase cloud-streaming games on a game-by-game basis.

What Games are Available?

As of now, the list of available titles is relatively small, at least by traditional cloud streaming standards:

  • Hitman 3
  • Control Ultimate Edition
  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Available October 26)
  • A Plague Tale: Requiem (Available 2022)

There are two Japan-only titles: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Resident Evil 7 Biohazard. Nintendo has not announced or indicated any plans to bring those titles to the U.S.

What Hardware Is Supported?

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming Television

Both the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite are supported. As both devices run the same CPU and GPU, they are equally capable of handling the demands of cloud streaming. While not yet available, it’s incredibly likely that all titles will be supported on the upcoming OLED Switch arriving later this year. In the case of both devices, you will have 720p resolution in handheld mode while the traditional Switch will stream at 1080p when docked.

Benefits of Cloud Streaming

For the most part, the biggest reason to utilize cloud streaming with the Nintendo Switch is that you can play more powerful games. However, one benefit that should not be overlooked is that games do not need to be downloaded entirely which leaves additional room for more titles. The current selection of titles only installs a small file on your Switch. No multiple gigabyte install. On top of that, you can download each title as a trial before deciding whether to buy the full version. 

Downsides of Cloud Streaming

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming Dock

Right now, the biggest downside of cloud streaming is that the game selection can be counted on one hand. Hopefully, the library will increase over the next year or two as Nintendo sees increased demand for more AAA titles. There is always talk of a Nintendo Switch “Pro” that would better compete against the Xbox and PS5 but the reality is that isn’t Nintendo’s style. They don’t compete on hardware anymore. Instead, Nintendo can have its cake and eat it too by focusing on the type of game library it wants while still offering gamers some AAA titles.

How Is This Different from Competitive Cloud Services?

In terms of cloud services, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Stadia and Amazon Luna are undoubtedly are more aligned with consumer’s idea of cloud streaming services. Each of those services offers dozens of games along with a dedicated subscription cost, internet speed requirements etc. Nintendo, on the other hand, is using cloud streaming as more of a substitute way to play games whereas Xbox Cloud Gaming is a full standalone service. You don’t need to own an Xbox console to use Xbox Cloud Gaming. The same goes for PlayStation Now. Nintendo has a long way to go to properly compete with today’s cloud streaming model and it may never want to. If you want to play dozens of games from the cloud, there are quite a few alternatives worth considering.

Wrapping Up

So far, everything about Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming looks good. That you don’t have to pay anything in addition to the game title is very appealing. All you need is a Switch, the game and a steady internet connection. Will Nintendo’s streaming library ever compete with the likes of Xbox or Stadia? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

David Beren

David Beren is a freelance writer with over 10 years of writing experience. He loves dogs, his kids and hacking productivity.