Nintendo’s new Switch hybrid handheld-and-home console will launch in March, and we’ve already seen the publisher suggest that it’ll have games like Skyrim and NBA 2K. But now we’re also learning that the system could have the right processor to attract additional third party support.
Nvidia confirmed that the architecture of the Tegra chip powering the Nintendo Switch is similar to what’s inside of the Sony and Microsoft consoles as well as most gaming PCs. In a conference call with investors last week, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang noted that this should enable developers to build games that can quickly shift from one platform to another — and that includes games that originate on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 to Switch. Nintendo plans to reveal more about the Switch during an event on January 12.
“The quality of games has grown significantly,” said Huang. “And one of the factors of production value of games that has been possible is because the PC and the two game consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, and — in the near-future — the Nintendo Switch, all of these architectures are common in the sense that they all use modern GPUs, they all use programmable shading, and they all have basically similar features.”
Huang admits that the chips inside your PC, your PS4, and your Switch will still have differences. The processors will vary in design and capabilities, but they still all use a common architectural language. That’s despite Tegra using mobile ARM architecture and the other consoles using the PC-based X86 design.
“As a result of that, game developers can target a much larger installed base with one common code base and, as a result, they can increase the production quality, production value of the games,” he said.
The subtext of Huang’s comment is that developers should find it relatively easy to build a game for PC and then port it to PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. One of the biggest concerns that fans have when it comes to Nintendo’s new dedicated gaming hardware is third-party support. That’s something Nintendo consoles have always struggled with, and making it an easy platform to develop for is a key step in ensuring that companies not named Nintendo want to make software for it.
But beyond the ease-of-development, Huang also hyped up the Switch a bit more in his conversation with analysts and investors.
“We’ve worked with [Nintendo] now for almost two years,” said Huang. “Several hundred engineering years have gone into the development of this incredible game console. I really believe when everybody sees it and enjoys it, they’re going be amazed by it. It’s really like nothing they’ve ever played with before. And of course, the brand, their franchises and their game content is incredible.”
Huang finished up by noting that he believes Nintendo will stick with Nvidia architecture. He thinks that the relationship between the two companies “will likely last two decades.” That’s a big vision for the future of both companies, but it’s all going to have to start with the Switch.