Bloomberg recently reported that Nintendo is engaged on a brand new, more powerful model of the Nintendo Switch {hardware} that may reportedly permit the console to show video games in 4K decision when docked. That will surely be a neat function, however it’s not why this information is so thrilling.

The reality is that the Switch has been underpowered for a while now, and it’s change into a problem for anybody who makes use of the {hardware} as their main console. The downside was by no means a scarcity of 4K help, however somewhat, the flexibility to ship even graphically modest video games to the participant with out having to make distracting compromises to efficiency.

The difficulty of optimization

The Switch was launched 4 years in the past, and took off like a rocket due to the hybrid transportable/console nature of the system’s design and the provision of a Mario sport that grew to become an on the spot basic, a Zelda sport that … nicely, did the identical factor, and an up to date model of the most effective Mario Kart video games ever launched.

The Xbox One and PlayStation four obtained midgeneration energy upgrades, and each Microsoft’s and Sony’s follow-ups tried to deliver a few of PC gaming’s energy to consoles. Nintendo launched its system with the innards of a glorified cellphone. It was a daring selection that paid off, proving that some gamers are more within the sport library and portability than uncooked energy.

The Switch wasn’t practically as powerful because the competitors, however who cared? It didn’t want to be. Nintendo was making its personal standout video games for the platform, and people have been working simply positive. The distinction in energy between the Switch and its nearest opponents was additionally rather a lot much less pronounced again within the before-times of 2017.

A Nintendo Switch and the new Nintendo Switch lite, side by side

Photo: Michael McWhertor/Polygon

But that gulf in energy elevated with time. Overcooked launched with vital body fee issues; Ark: Survival Evolved had to be cut down to the very basics to run on the system in any respect. Motion Twin, the developer of Dead Cells, apologized for the state of its Switch version at launch. And the newest Switch port of a significant sport, Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends, is a really compromised expertise.

Game developer Sterling Selover wrote in regards to the challenges of porting Stingbot’s The Forbidden Arts to Switch in 2019. “All in all, I spent 4 months working on the Switch port, while simultaneously continuing to improve and finish the game on other platforms,” Selover said. “The Switch’s hardware is unique and unless a game is designed specifically for The Switch, it’s probably going to be very hard to maintain consistency with consoles of more powerful hardware.”

That downside is simply getting worse as builders give attention to the elevated energy of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. It will solely get tougher to make video games that work nicely on each courses of console. The reply is both more time spent on optimization, which comes with its personal value and limitations for smaller groups, or designing with the massive energy disparity in thoughts from the start.

As time goes on, although, it turns into more seemingly that more video games with disappointing efficiency, loading occasions, and backbone will be launched for the Switch. That’s unhealthy information for everybody, from builders attempting to ship the most effective model of their video games, to followers who need to play high-quality ports on their Switch. Something had to give.

So what does more powerful {hardware} get us?

The rumored new Switch {hardware} additionally is alleged to embody know-how that may make it simpler for builders to eke more efficiency out of the system.

“The addition of DLSS would be a boon for new games and developers,” Polygon’s Michael McWhertor defined in a latest information publish in regards to the console. “Nvidia’s technology uses AI to accelerate graphics rendering through image reconstruction, maintaining high image quality while delivering improved frame rates. Put simply, it allows a video card to render a game at a lower internal resolution — reducing the load on the GPU — as it uses Nvidia’s AI algorithm to generate a reconstructed image that looks as good as (or, in some cases, better than) the game rendered at native resolution.”

Forget the arguments about body fee and backbone for a bit bit. The actual points listed here are legibility and the way every sport feels. Developers need to create Switch ports that permit gamers to see and perceive the motion whereas guaranteeing that the video games nonetheless really feel good to play. That’s the aim.

Nintendo put builders in one thing of a bind with the unique Switch: The system isn’t powerful sufficient to be comparable with competing consoles, however it’s promoting so nicely that builders might really feel like they’ll’t afford to skip it. By upping the ability of the lowest-end console in the marketplace, Nintendo could make improvement of video games simpler throughout the board, which could lead on to more — and higher — ports of all of the video games you need to play on the go.

By providing more powerful Switch {hardware}, and getting gamers onto that more powerful {hardware} as rapidly as doable, Nintendo might give builders an ecosystem the place they’ll spend much less time optimizing their video games to get to that aim. It additionally signifies that builders who spend time constructing scalable engines can use more of these engines’ options on the Switch whereas conserving the sport playable by way of uncooked efficiency.

The best-case situation? More ports, accomplished in much less time, utilizing fewer sources, that look and play higher. And that’s good for everybody … besides possibly Microsoft and Sony.