What is Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming and how does it work?

Nintendo Switch Oled Model Removing Joy Con
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch has been a very popular console ever since it was first released. There are hundreds of the best Nintendo Switch games to play that can entertain you for hundreds of hours. However, the Switch is not nearly as powerful as its PlayStation and Xbox competitors, with higher resolution capabilities and processing powers. This has prevented some games from being able to come to the Switch up until recently.

Thankfully, Nintendo has begun to provide Cloud Streaming for a select list of games. This basically makes it so we can play these more graphically intense games without needing a hardware upgrade on our Switch consoles. Here's everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming.

What is Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming?

Nintendo Switch OLED Model Next To Switch V2 Luigis Mansion 3 With King Boo

(Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming lets those graphically demanding games work on the Nintendo Switch without requiring the necessary GPU or CPU upgrades the Switch would need. This is accomplished by streaming games via an internet connection rather than installing them locally on the Nintendo Switch, similar to how Xbox Cloud Streaming and Google Stadia operate. Of course, this does mean you need a stable internet connection for Cloud Streaming to function properly.

Do you need a subscription?

Nintendo Switch Online Nes Games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Interestingly enough, you do not need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to use the Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming feature. However, there are currently only a few games available for streaming as of right now. Even so, some of the best games on Nintendo Switch are found here. 

To access these games, you simply search for them on the Nintendo eShop from the Nintendo Switch's main menu. Then select the download option. As a tip, anything that says "Cloud Version" in the title is a cloud streaming game.

What games are available to stream on your Nintendo Switch?

These are all Nintendo Switch Cloud games currently available to stream from the cloud.

  • Control Ultimate Edition
  • Hitman 3
  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Kingdom Hearts - HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (Japan-only)
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (Japan-only)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis (Japan-only)

Coming soon

  • A Plague Tale: Requiem (October 18, 2022)
  • Resident Evil Village (October 28, 2022)
  • Resident Evil Biohazard (2022)
  • Resident Evil 3 (2022)
  • Resident Evil 4 (2022)

If you really want to access those Japan-only titles, you can always create a Japanese Switch account. But the connection might not be that great. During the last Sakurai Presents, we learned about the Kingdom Hearts games coming to Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming. We were told, "the release date will be announced at a later time, so please be patient." We'll update you when more information becomes available.

What are the Pros and cons of Nintendo Switch Cloud Streaming?

Plague Tale Switch

(Image credit: Focus Home Interactive)

Pros: Obviously, the biggest pro is being able to play a game on Switch that normally wouldn't be able to run on the hybrid's hardware. Additionally, since you're streaming the game rather than running it locally, you also don't take up much space in your internal storage or microSD card.

Cons: You must have a stable internet connection and decent streaming speeds for these games to run properly.

How fast does my internet need to be?

Guardians Switch

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Nintendo hasn't detailed specific requirements. However, by looking at other cloud gaming services, like Google Stadia, we know that an internet connection speed of around 15 megabits per second is required to stream at 720p. It's a good idea to assume the same for Nintendo Switch.

Test a game first to see if your internet speed is good enough

The sad truth is that many of us don't have the best internet connection in our homes. Fortunately, Nintendo allows you to test your stream connection by playing the game for a small amount of time. If everything works to your satisfaction, you can go into the Switch eShop and purchase full access. Now, it is possible that the connection could be good during the test, but be spotty during actual play, so keep that in mind.

What can I do to improve my connection speed?

(Image credit: Linksys)

If it just isn't working out well, there are a few things you can do to potentially improve your internet connection speed.

  • Connect to the internet via an ethernet cable: The original Nintendo Switch, Switch V2, and Switch Lite can only connect via Wi-Fi. However, if you purchase the proper adapter, you can attach an ethernet port for a more stable connection. The new Switch OLED model has a built-in LAN port in the dock, which will make this easier.
  • Reset your router: There's a slim chance that your router just needs a restart to fix any connection issues. However, if you don't usually get good connection speeds, this won't solve the issue.

What resolutions are available when streaming?

Control Switch

(Image credit: 505 Games)

The Nintendo Switch itself offers the same resolutions: Up to 1080p while docked and up to 720p when in handheld mode. Although, a spotty internet connection might cause these numbers to drop, and each game is subject to its own settings options.

Can I stream to the Switch Lite?

Nintendo Switch Lite - Turquoise on table

(Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Yes indeed! Anyone with a Nintendo Switch Lite can also get in on the cloud streaming action by following the same exact steps as anyone with a regular Nintendo Switch or Switch OLED model would.

Why isn't Xbox Game Pass available on Nintendo Switch?

Xbox Game Pass On Switch No Logo

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When people think cloud streaming, they usually think about Xbox Game Pass, also known as Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud). It's not surprising, given that this service gives you access to hundreds of popular games from current and previous generation consoles. Not to mention, it's an outstanding deal for the price. Switch players have long hoped that the service would come to the Nintendo Switch, but at this time, it is not available.

If it ever does get added to the hybrid console, it will be after months of talks between Microsoft and Nintendo. Although, not too long ago, Phil Spencer's shelf did have a teasing Nintendo Switch console sitting there. It's possible this was just an allusion to Banjo-Kazooie coming to the new Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, some other project, or it could have simply been a red herring. Regardless, we'll keep our ears to the ground and update if Xbox Game Pass does come to the Nintendo Switch.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.