What are Microsoft and Nintendo up to? Redacted court documents tease a big secret

Xbox Project xCloud games
Xbox Project xCloud games (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Epic Games v. Apple has unearthed lots of tidbits about Microsoft's business operations.
  • One such tidbit has ruffled Nintendo, which claims sensitive information has been revealed.
  • Given that it's unclear what the sensitive information is, speculation abounds.

Just when it was starting to look like all the exciting discussion topics from Epic Games v. Apple had come and gone, one more nugget arrives at the forefront. This time, it's Nintendo inadvertently drawing attention to info it deems as sensitive. The question on everyone's minds is: Why is the info sensitive?

Axios' Stephen Totilo raised awareness of the situation over on Twitter. He said that Nintendo has reacted to a Microsoft executive's deposition with the statement that it reflects competitively sensitive information about negotiations going on between the two companies.

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As many Twitter tweeters noted in response to Totilo's initial post, this reeks of secrets — specifically, xCloud and Game Pass-scented secrets. After all, there has been a long history of rumors concerning Game Pass coming to Switch in some form.

Just earlier this year, speculation kicked up around a cloud-based version of Game Pass that could potentially land on Nintendo's console. Given how the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has been careful to avoid mentioning "Game Pass-supported platforms" as being Xbox, cloud, and PC only, it sure seems like he knows expansion is coming. Heck, the man has a Nintendo Switch on his shelf, right where everyone can see it.

Plus, Spencer has blatantly said that Microsoft isn't done trying to get Game Pass on other consoles via cloud streaming. And why should Microsoft give up? If there's one console on the market that seems like a good fit for Game Pass, it's the Switch.

Think about it: Nintendo's major strength is its first-party IPs. Virtually nothing on Game Pass, be it Microsoft's IPs or third-party content, overlaps enough to cannibalize Nintendo's core consumer bases for franchises such as Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon. In fact, Game Pass would perfectly complement Nintendo's existing stable and remedy its perpetually lacking third-party lineup, effectively making the Switch a far more well-rounded console than it currently is.

Minecraft Nintendo Switch

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

And it's not like Nintendo isn't familiar with the idea of having games too strong for its Switch hardware still appearing on the console via streaming. Look at Control, Remedy's latest action-thriller game. That title exists on the Switch via the cloud, highlighting a model that Game Pass could use to hop aboard the system.

This brings us back to Nintendo's unhappiness with "sensitive info" slipping out concerning Microsoft's xCloud mentions. There's no reason for Nintendo to care about that service and its various associations with companies unless they're one of the said companies it's associated with. So with that in mind: Did Nintendo just inadvertently shine a spotlight on the future? Sound off in the comments with what you think this all means.

And if you want to learn more about Epic Games v. Apple, including Nintendo's peculiar involvement in it, be sure to check our content on the trial, which continues to expand as the court case rages on.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

  • Bro, it's coming. It'll be across all switches, however, the new one will have 5G/Wifi6 connectivity which will make the experience on Switch Pro alot better. Nevertheless, Xcloud is also coming to Xbox and when it does it'll be on Xbox 360 as well if the demand is there. The real money is in software and services not hardware. MS would rather have 400 million gamepass subs by 2029/30(10 year life cycle) than 100 million consoles sold. And it's all possible. By 2022/23 I see Xcloud being ridiculously smooth given the new hardware. Then, it also means the next console will be extremely powerful because it will be created with Xcloud (servers{Azure}) in mind.
  • It's not just the hardware.
    Some folks think that just improving broadband speeds all over is enough to make game streaming dominant. Two words: DATA. CAPS. That will be harder than improving broadband availability.
  • I don't have a data cap and streaming doesn't use much data. But is for some, I'm FiOS Quantum 1GB tier no cap
  • Streaming limitations have little to do with bandwidth or data caps, although data caps could be a problem for a few. Numbers of hops, and speed of light. Bandwidth has increased over the last 25 years, latency not really. " The real money is in software and services not hardware." Some companies make on one or another, some companies money on both. Some companies don't make any real money at all, hint. "MS would rather have 400 million gamepass subs by 2029/30(10 year life cycle) than 100 million consoles sold." I would rather have a unicorn, more likely imo.
  • Hmm, actually, there is a second answer: MS licensing their cloud tech via AZURE to Nintendo. It could be as prosaic as Nintendo running their global business via cloud or as clever as using xCloud tech to build their own independent subscription service for SWITCH, as an umbrella to bring in BC and higher complexity games to their platform; an nCloud, as it were.
  • It actually is both. That play benefits Nintendo more long term play, furthermore, MS could easily say, " we'll waive some of the cost of you include GP in the deal". Both will benefit short and long term. Nintendo can keep making inferior hardware with robust 1st party games and MS 1st party and 2nd/3rd party games that aren't available on Switch (and maybe never will be). Besides, MS and Nintendo have been in bed together for a long time. However, I bet the announcement will be at Nintendo's wanting not MS.
  • Xbox Live was rumored to come to Switch a couple years ago but that never materialized. Perhaps they have Game Pass and/or xCloud in the works.