Is the Switch powerful enough?


I was thinking about this after Patrick said again how much he wants Persoan 5 to be on the Switch but with recent releases like Overcook and Shifty who had frame rate problems I was wondering if the system is powerful enough to even get a game like Persona 5 running or any big game like Doom and Skyrim?

The Switch’s best performing games have been made for the Switch, indie games that are known to run on anything, or 3rd party games that have flexible engines like Snake pass.


Short answer, yes. Good art and optimization can go a long way in making a game look beautiful while not being incredibly demanding.

As far as getting the bigger games running, compromises have to be made, just like any console game that’s also available on PC. 30 FPS, fewer effects, lower resolution… visual cuts can be made while still allowing a new market to get the core experience.

If people have the option, they should get those games on a powerful PC. Then again, being able to play on the Switch in handheld mode means I’d be able to squeeze in more time while my family is using the big screen, so… it still might not be totally cut and dry.


Well, I mean, DOOM and Skyrim ARE on Switch, even if DOOM is 30fps. As far as I’m concerned that makes it way powerful enough for anything devs want to put the time into porting. I’d do violent, dangerous things for Dark Souls 3 on switch even if it’s 30fps and/or at lowest PC settings. Nioh let you pick between the two, I’d take that again. But I’ve no knowlage of how “power” is being measured in the Switch’s case nor any experience working with it’s hardware. There must be a reason why something like Overcooked struggled while Zelda remained solid for basically all 100 odd hours of me playing it.


Hopefully it isn’t and folks come to terms with having to do games that are less technically demanding to reach a wider audience and it becomes acceptable to make big budget games more accessible to people with less access to high end, premium hardware.


That where I’m at too. It why I’m accepting the next SMT game cause it being made with the Switch in mind.


Persona 5 isn’t exactly a graphically demanding game, since it was made to run on PS3. Pretty sure a Switch version should be possible.


I think they’re literally using the Persona 5 engine and demon models for the SMT on Switch.
(Edit: nope they’re using UE4, thanks @SabuhtoothAlex)

I think the Switch is definitely powerful enough for what Nintendo’s going to try to do with it. A game having frame rate issues does not necessarily mean the system isn’t powerful enough, it might just mean that the game hasn’t been optimized well enough for the particular platform.

Nintendo has a habit of releasing systems in between big hardware leaps, but obviously with their own first-party games, they’ve mastered the art of optimizing and looking brilliant at the same time. I think that the Switch might not end up being the best place to play demanding or un-optimized third-party games (hell, consoles in GENERAL already aren’t the best place to play them) but it will be able to play them for a while, I think.

EDIT: for a concrete example of how ports can seem like they’re technically struggling, I worked on an indie game that is being ported to Vita. Looking at it, you would not think it is demanding–pixel art, simple animations, you know, an indie game :smirk: but the way the text typewriter was originally built absolutely wrecks the Vita. It’s parsing Twine-style scripting into code (my layman’s description). Everything is timed with the way the text prints out, so if that doesn’t work, the whole game looks bad. It’s not a demanding thing-- it’s just a weird unfortunate quirk that hurts us on Vita.


Looking at Nintendo’s first party games, I’d say the system is more than powerful enough. Their games look incredible, despite the fact that they’re nowhere near the 4K resolution that others in the industry are striving for.

Quality ports take time, though, and generally the ports you see released at the beginning of a console’s life are rushed to market in suboptimal conditions. It takes time to figure out how to squeeze the most out of new hardware, and unless the hardware specs are nailed down early on, you might be several months into your dev cycle before you even know what the platform is capable of. Add in the fact that these games have to come out on other platforms that do have their specs nailed down, and it becomes very difficult to release a perfect Switch port at launch.

As long as there continues to be business incentive to put games out on the Switch, I would expect we’ll see improvements over time. You can probably make any game run on Switch, it’s just a question of what compromises need to be made and how much time developers can afford to spend finetuning them.


For the moment, yes. I do however doubt that in two years the thing will still be up to snuff though and the demands of making full $60 games that look good on a TV will likely have some serious ramifications on a lot of the smaller stuff you see on 3DS like the Etrian’s and Fantasy Life’s of the world.

The other issue is that the damn thing is $300 to start and to get a full extra controller for it is at least $70 on top of that if you don’t want to go third party. It’s easy to forget but right now the Switch is the most expensive non weird half step console on the market and likely will be for a while so I’m not even sure that it makes games more accessible than a $250 PS4 with a back catalog of cheap games and a much better ecosystem for digital sales. Nevermind the fact that it’s unlikely you’ll have your PS4 stolen on the subway whereas the Switch basically screams “I’M AN EXPENSIVE THING YOU CAN STEAL REALLY EASILY JUST GO FOR IT”

It may better fit peoples lives better and that’s great! But I don’t think it makes games accessible, its just been marketed as such

Nintendo’s games will continue to look and run fine I’m sure though at this point they’ve fine tuned their aesthetic to the point that Zelda, Mario Kart, and Splatoon all kind look the same thinks to the lighting they use in all of them being nearly identical rendering it all in the a sort of bland mush that I find less appealing by the game


No. And it’s not just about ports either, it’s about Nintendo’s own games. Even with the first game out of the gate, one with its origins in the previous generation console, we still saw Nintendo hitting performance limitations on the Switch. BoTW would have been a better game on something with the power of a PS4. Or even just on the PS4.


It’d be the exact same game. Like, it’s been made for lower limits, if it were on something else it would literally be the same game, but on something else. Even if it were made from the ground up for PS4 specs, it’d be exactly the same game with higher res textures and resolution. That’s nothing. That’s not even the difference between brown and white bread, it’s the difference between white bread and Hovis 50/50.


SMT Switch is running on UE4, not the P5 engine. They’re def going to be using those demon models for years and years to come though.


Ah, I see. I knew I definitely read that the models were gonna be re-used, I guess the other part crept into my brain alongside it. Thank you!


Having played Persona 5 on a PS3 and a PS4, I can say that you really don’t want to deal with the load times on the lesser hardware.


Coming from the 3DS, I think so. The Switch might not be in a great place long-term if you’re expecting it to get the same games as the PS4 or Xbox One, but Nintendo consoles aren’t really about that kind of thing. Going into the Switch expecting the same experience as other dedicated TV-only consoles when the Switch is effectively a handheld that has TV Out as an option is just going to lead to disappointment.

The Switch exists in the same space as the 3DS or the Vita did in terms of ports and original games. I’m pretty satisfied with it so far, and while more power is always nice, I’d rather Nintendo keep the cost of the system down than go crazy making some high-end machine. Especially if it became more bulky.

I’m more interested in the kind of games I got on the 3DS than I am on the stuff I can get on other consoles or on PC. The Switch is going to deliver those, and a bit more. It’s fine.


Yeah, about that…

The Switch is impressive for a handheld, and Nintendo first party stuff is mostly consistent as it always been, but still, with Nintendo is always “adjust your expectations”, things can surprise sometimes, but talking about power ehhhh… come on, it is a handheld.


I’d blame that one the frankenstein hardware setup of the PS3 in addition to the disc read speed. Via physical cartridge copy or digital download, load times shouldn’t be a major issue on the Switch.

(before anyone mentions it, the recent Rayman Legends port having longer load times was more due to hyper-compressed assets rather than system power)


It could certainly run Persona 5 at a similar level of fidelity to the PS3 version.


The thing is, Nintendo don’t keep the costs to consumers down. They, famously, provide less of a deal on hardware (their costs are lower, your retail price is not showing a similar gap) and worse-than-average scalping on official accessories because they don’t plan to recoup costs via licensing fees for 3rd party games on their platforms.

Going for the $30 SoC vs the $40 SoC in a portable isn’t making major differences to costs, especially when throwing parallax 3D displays, over-engineered (but still needing foam inserts to work properly) controllers, and other gimmicks at them clearly shown Nintendo have no issue with increasing costs for show. But it does seriously limit the visuals of their systems compared to equivalent hardware (either competing gaming devices or even, in the modern era, devices like mainstream portable communication devices that also happen to have a game-capable SoC inside).

I’d be a lot happier if Nintendo offered radically cheaper devices (including accessories) to the competition (which is extremely hard due to the BoM for most of these sort of devices) or enough underlying hardware performance to provide similarly rich experiences. Most of the time (exceptions like the GC are relatively rare), I feel like I get the worst of both worlds - it’s not enough of a price gap from what Sony etc offer to justify the significant performance void (and often extremely questionable sourcing decisions for their silicon designs/partners and which designs they order a custom chip around - who comes up with that 3DS GPU decision and thinks “oh, this is fine for driving a screen that needs two renders per perceived frame the player sees”?).

Edit: to be clear, this stuff is tough and involves predicting the future a bit. See the XB1 paying for a load of transistors as SRAM and going with four DDR3 memory controllers on their SoC because they knew they wanted 8GB of unified RAM (so you pick DDR3 early on because it’ll be cheap, have to go up to 4 channels to even possibly feed the system and throw in SRAM as an L4 cache on the chip, taking away from the GPU’s die area or ballooning the chip costs). Sony go the other direction, use that silicon for a 50% larger GPU and pick GDDR5 memory controllers which still end up hooked up to 8GB of (vastly faster) RAM as the prices work out during development. They end up both being about the same sized chip but not at all the same performance per mm2. It’s bad luck that the XB1 ends up having a significantly less powerful chip than the PS4 due to early design decisions. But also, purely looking at them as chips you’re buying to play games on, the PS4 made the right decisions and is a much better final chip.


Except it hasn’t. Even as designed it has performance problems with drops in on resolution and framerate, and those drops are from an already low base - it never manages HD resolution. Now, up to a point you can argue that the hardware doesn’t matter and it’s all about the gameplay, but the hardware supports the gameplay - you can make a great game on the SNES (hello, Link to the Past) but you couldn’t have made BotW. On the Switch the game still has scenery pop-in.

All the Nintendo game design goodness would still be there if the game ran on PS4. The technical problems wouldn’t be. IMO, that means the Switch is indeed not powerful enough to do even what Nintendo games are asking of it, never mind any third party games.

If you’re going to be able to meaningfully answer the question at all you need some standard for what ‘good enough’ is - you can pick any arbitrary hardware and make this tautological argument that it is powerful enough to run anything that’s correctly designed to fit within its power limits, but that’s not terribly useful. You need to consider not simply what it can do, but also what it’s expected to do. And the evidence of BotW is that the Switch can’t satisfactorily do what is expected of it.

Also, just on this point:

The Switch is considerably more expensive than a PS4 or an XBox One S, and Switch games are also typically coming at a premium, and being less heavily discounted. It’s not cheaper. It is more portable, but it’s not cheaper.