Nintendo Switch May Be Unable to Receive Current Gen Ports

Former Rendering Lead at Ubisoft Says the Switch’s Specs Could Spell Disaster for Current Gen Ports

There has been a ton of rumor and speculation flying around over the Nintendo Switch. From rumors about the battery life of the handheld to whether or not the system will be receiving third party support, one thing we do know at this point is that the system will have a relatively low processing speed.  Recently, on a Beyond3D forum, former senior rendering lead at Ubisoft, Sebastian Aaltonen, offered his perspective on what this low processing speed means for games coming to the Switch… and it doesn’t look good.

Nintendo Switch Specs

We covered a couple reasons why some third party developers are on the fence about supporting the Nintendo Switch with software, but according to Aaltonen,the system’s issues run deeper than indecisive developers. The former rendering lead, who is also co-founder of Second Order LTD, had this to say about the speed of the Switch:

“Around 50% of modern game engine frame time goes to running compute shaders… 25.6 GB/s is pretty low as everybody knows that 68 GB/s of Xbox One isn’t that great either… Switch certainly fares well against last gen consoles… Too bad last gen consoles already got their last big AAA releases year ago. Xbox One is a significantly faster hardware. Straightforward code port is not possible. Content also needs to be simplified.” (If you want to read all the technical specs he is referencing, you can view his quote in its entirety from the link above.)

Nintendo Switch PS4 comparison

Apparently, in order to get current generation ports of games on the Nintendo Switch, developers would have to go back and drastically alter code and performance. That doesn’t sound like something anyone would want to put time or money into unless they knew the new ports were going to sell like crazy. With tons of uncertainty surrounding the specs and availability of games for the system, this is kind of depressing news.  As Aaltonen points out – it would be easier to port Xbox 360 games to the switch… but how many fans are really going to want to play games from years ago on a brand new system?

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo has been incredibly successful in the handheld market for many years, and we think there is definitely something special about being able to pause a game you are playing on a big ol’ flat screen, and hop on a train or bus, and continue to play from your handheld.  Everyone knew the 3ds wasn’t going to have the graphics or processing speed of consoles or even other handhelds at the time, but that didn’t make the system rock any less.  Even though it may only have a third or less of the speed of an Xbox One, for those of us who grew up on pre-Xbox systems and old Game Boy Pockets, the processing power of the Switch seems like plenty to support some seriously awesome games. Considering the fact that Nintendo is… well… Nintendo, and they have their own strong franchises to bring to the switch, hopefully this lack of current-gen port support will only be a small stumbling stone for the system that will be coming out next year.