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It baffles me that no version of the Nintendo Switch has built-in streaming capabilities, yet. You still need a capture card and computer. If our iPhones can do live vlogs, why can't the larger Switch stream a live game?

I want to know if there is some hardware limitation. Is the Switch just "too busy" running the game and needs the extra computer and capture card to do the rest of the work?

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The Nintendo Switch System Software update 4.0 (released 2017-10-18) introduced the ability to record the previous 30 seconds of gameplay:

Added the following system functionality:

  • Capture video on select games
    • To capture video, hold down the Capture Button during gameplay
    • Up to a maximum of the previous 30 seconds will be saved in the Album. You can trim the beginning and end of each clip, and post to Facebook and Twitter.
    • As of October 18, 2017, this feature is compatible with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, and Splatoon 2

So there's likely no hardware-limitation to record gameplay. Nintendo probably limits recordings to 30 seconds to avoid filling the (very limited) storage, and requires each game to support the feature individually to free the necessary RAM for the last 30 seconds of video.

Streaming, meanwhile, requires high-bandwidth communication. Unless the console has a dedicated chip for networking or reserves a few of its CPU cores for the system, open connections produce an overhead which affect CPU speeds. This is why many low-end devices have difficulties reaching high speeds when under heavy load. To ensure downloads won't slow down games, the Switch pauses downloads when a game is running.

So while there's no hardware limitation, there's a design limitation. The Switch is, in theory, fully capable of streaming its gameplay. It just won't, because streaming would negatively affect gaming performance.

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  • So I had the right intuition. I'd still call reserving resources for one vital purpose over an optional purpose a result of hardware limitations, but then again I don't really know computer lingo. Any idea if it is at all feasible in the next few years to get a handheld console that is powerful enough for typical Switch titles AND stream?
    – BatWannaBe
    Jul 29, 2020 at 6:45
  • @BatWannaBe, it all depends on what Nintendo intends. If they don't care about streaming, we could have the most powerful device ever, and it still wouldn't be able to stream, because all the necessary resources are dedicated to running games.
    – Nolonar
    Jul 29, 2020 at 12:18

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