A former Ubisoft employee has revealed that Nintendo's forthcoming hybrid console, the Switch, may not have enough processing power to handle current-generation game ports, which comes as a dent in the console's potential to welcome third-party developers seamlessly.
The Nintendo Switch
In 2016, quite an exciting array of gaming consoles were offspringed, but the Nintendo Switch is arguably the most raved about despite having polarized audiences from different sides. When revealed late October, many opined that it could penetrate the gaming market twofold: accruing both Nintendo's first-party audience, and trawling other gamers — those who often turn to either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4 for third-party titles — to its shore.
Others were skeptical — skeptical still — about the power the console is housing, and the skepticism became further injured by a recent EuroGamer report, which revealed the console's processing and graphical power.
No Direct Current-Gen Ports
Now, newer information has surfaced online, furthering pessimism about the console in the power department. By virtue of Sebastian Aaltonen, an erstwhile senior rendering lead from Ubisoft, "Straightforward code port is not possible" on the Switch, which means developers who wish to take their games onto the platform would have to undergo strenuous streamlining, programming, and arduous legwork associated with porting titles.
Porting games from one platform to another, even if the platforms in questions are powerful enough, still involves very complicated processes, but if Aaltonen's words prove accurate enough to go by, the same process will be much harder on the Switch.
"Around 50 percent of modern game engine frame time goes to running compute shaders: lighting, post processing, AA, AO, reflections, etc. Maxwell's tiled rasterizer has zero impact on compute shaders. 25.6 [GBps] is pretty low as everybody knows that 68 [GBps] of Xbox One isn't that great either," Aaltonen wrote.
Essentially, developers would need to drastically change the code and performance of current-generation titles to port them over to the Switch. There's certainly enough reason for some developers, if not all, to skip ports on the Switch, if the chore is in fact very complex or far more trouble than it's worth.
That said, everything talked about the Switch so far has been mere speculation, and until Nintendo itself officially breaks word come Jan. 12, during its Switch-focused event, the best thing to do now is hope that developers see the system as a lucrative platform to bring their games on. Of course, this will only be possible if Nintendo sells enough units. Once this happens, the demand could overpower any technical limitations.
Take the Nintendo DS for example, a handheld console that couldn't hold a candle to its rival at the time, the PlayStation Portable, in terms of power. But which outsold which? The same can be said for the 3DS, whose success still towers over the PlayStation Vita.
The Nintendo Switch comes out March.