The Nintendo Switch is a marvel of modern console design. While some called its portability a “gimmick,” it’s reaching the point where it starts to feel strange to not be able to take your console games anywhere. It’s why so many people call for nearly every popular third-party game to be brought to the Nintendo Switch.
In that same spirit, it’s time for Nintendo to start seriously looking at creating their own streaming service if they’re going to keep the Nintendo Switch relevant in the next generation.
To be clear, the Nintendo Switch is always going to retain some appeal so long as it’s the home of Nintendo games. The Switch’s portability is also likely going to remain an appealing feature, especially if Microsoft and Sony don’t offer something similar with their next-gen devices out of the gate.
However, when we talk about streaming and the relevancy of the Switch, we’re really talking about what the Switch was at launch and where gaming is going.
The Switch was exciting when it launched. It excited people not just because it offered a compelling new way to play such modern classics as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8, but because it got people thinking of an age where console gaming is no longer tied to the traditional restraints of consoles.
Well, that’s kind of what cloud gaming and video game streaming services are trying to offer. Actually, they’re going beyond that in some cases. Stadia promises to offer PC Gaming-quality experiences via various pieces of hardware, xCloud (and by proxy, Game Pass) is positioned to benefit from Microsoft’s gaming without borders approach, and even PlayStation Now offers an extensive backward compatibility alternative (and is growing by the day).
One of the Switch’s biggest problems to-date is that Nintendo hasn’t really gone beyond the console’s initial offerings as of yet in terms of the potential of the device. Just as it was at launch, the Nintendo Switch is a great way to play first-and-third party games wherever you may roam. Aside from the addition of some monthly retro games (tied to a premium online subscription), though, there’s still quite a bit we thought we may get from the Switch that we haven’t gotten yet.
The Switch still doesn’t offer that many third-party apps. It still doesn’t have a viable Virtual Console alternative that lets you access Nintendo’s extensive history of games (outside of the aforementioned handful of monthly retro titles). It still suffers from limited storage space and limited power that makes certain games (like The Witcher 3) less appealing than they should be.
Cloud gaming and a streaming service could certainly help that last issue, but it benefits the console in other ways as well. Sony, Microsoft, and Google say that streaming services and cloud gaming are the future, and they be right. More importantly, they are going to aggressively pursue streaming services that arguably nobody could do better than Nintendo. After all, few companies can boast their library of exclusives, and the third-party indie games that make up the majority of most streaming catalogs tend to be most exciting on the Nintendo Switch.
The Switch is the perfect device for a video game streaming/cloud service. The only question now is whether or not Nintendo is willing and able to take advantage of this opportunity.