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Monday, March 6, 2023

Cloud Versions of Switch Games are a Bummer

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Yeah, this is red meat... But at least there's something to chew on, unlike a wispy cloud game.

You know, if I was trying to be contrarian and interesting, I'd write an article trying to write about how Cloud versions of games on the Nintendo Switch are actually a good thing. There are actually two main reasons I've seen—espoused only by companies, not by real customers—for why Cloud versions are great for you:
  1. Cloud versions don't take up storage space on your console because you're just streaming it over the Internet (and this also means you don't have a long download time if you're buying a game digitally)
  2. Because the Nintendo Switch has less power compared to its rival consoles, some games can't be ported easily (or at all) to it. But with Cloud streaming, the power of the Switch console doesn't matter, so the game selection of Switch owners has expanded

Both of these things are true statements. I, for one, am quite concerned that my Nintendo Switch plus SD card are going to run out of space, especially if I keep buying games digitally. That's a reason I prefer to buy my games physically, and why titles that are only available through digital download are ANNOYING.

And while the first argument is solved by “just manufacture physical cards; it's probably cheaper than having/renting a giant data centre” (unless you are expecting a certain scale... one such provider is Ubitus), the second argument falls apart when you see stuff like Kingdom Hearts for the PlayStation 2 as a Cloud game. (Okay, KINGDOM HEARTS - HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX - Cloud Version is a Cloud game of a PlayStation 4 compilation involving a PlayStation 3 remake of a PlayStation 2 remake. That's somewhat reductionist, but at some point someone needs to put their oversized shoe down and say it's wrong.) The Switch can handle that—SQUARE ENIX just found it easier (less effort) to stream it than to port it properly. Maybe they had to release a Kingdom Hearts game on the Switch, and fast, in order to justify Sora being in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

What got me thinking about Cloud versions, besides the fact that they get mentioned in Nintendo Directs a lot (where it looks like the Switch is getting a cool port and then they reveal CLOUD VERSION in smaller text), is whatever happened to BIOHAZARD 7 resident evil cloud version, also known as Resident Evil 7 biohazard Cloud, but in Japan. See, outside of Japan, there are a whole bunch of Resident Evil cloud versions that work like other cloud versions—they all offer free demo versions that they want you to try in order to see if your Internet connection is good enough to actually play it. Almost every Cloud version game on the Switch has this warning in the description in big text:

Resident Evil 7 biohazard Cloud listing Nintendo eShop America demo
Here is Resident Evil 7 biohazard Cloud on the Nintendo eShop outside of Japan.
There is a demo for every Cloud version that isn't outright free or a bundle.
What's in these demos? I dunno, I've never tried any of them. Maybe that makes me unqualified to write this article.
It might just be a connection test of a few minutes of gameplay.

I get the feeling that text is mandated by Nintendo, or else they won't let a cloud-streamed game on the eShop. Anyway, BIOHAZARD 7 resident evil cloud version did something different, different from even the other BIOHAZARD Cloud games in Japan. There was a rental version... of the Cloud version... and you won't have access to it by May 29, 2023. Now, no one reading this article is going to be affected by that, but rather than pay the 4,990 JPY for full access to the game for as long as you want (until the service shuts down), you could rent it for about three months (or until the service shuts down!). If you bought a rental pass before December 1, 2022 (that's when they stopped giving those out) but never redeemed the pass, you gotta do so soon. If you did buy a rental pass, you get a discount on the full Cloud version (until the end of August 2023).

It doesn't make any sense to me why this rental scheme on what's a rented game distribution method to begin with even existed, and perhaps someone at CAPCOM has felt the same way as me (and most people?) and decided it's stupid and to shut it down. But it does show how...FRAIL this distribution method is. (And that's not even a pun on the latency experience, which I didn't discuss throughout this article but is actually people's biggest issue with Cloud gaming.) You know, if the collapse of Google's Stadia wasn't enough of that kind of showing.

Ludwig's hand-count of how many Cloud games are available for play from the Nintendo eShop are about thirteen to fourteen games, which is a miniscule fraction of the total number of Switch games. Still, if it's a trend... it's a bad trend. He doesn't plan to treat Cloud as a proper noun in any future articles ever again, because it's very annoying to look at.


  1. "Maybe they had to release a Kingdom Hearts game on the Switch, and fast, in order to justify Sora being in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?"

    Objection! That cloud version of the remixes came out in 2022, but Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory came out in 2020. Sora was already on the Nintendo Switch ahead of his introduction to Smash! (Moreover, several Kingdom Hearts games had been on past Nintendo systems, and it's not like every character on the roster has a Switch game specifically.) So yeah, there's no real justification for Square Enix deciding a collection of 3 PS2 remakes, a PSP remake, and cutscenes from 2 DS games couldn't get a proper port.

    1. Maybe Nintendo wanted SQUARE ENIX to have a real Kingdom Hearts game.
      Not every character on the roster has a Switch game, but every new character does. Sure, many of them are after the fact, but perhaps that's part of the agreement. And these are real games. (Or Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore.)

      ...Or they're Dark Samus. ...Or Kazuya Mishima Wins, I'm pretty sure, also isn't there. The former may be coming... The latter, uh... I dunno wot's going on with it.


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