The Switch’s New Video Capture Function Isn’t Great

The Switch’s New Video Capture Function Isn’t Great

The latest system software update for the Nintendo Switch added the ability to capture gameplay video, but don’t get too excited. It only works in four games currently, and the results aren’t great.

Owners of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, and Splatoon 2 can now hold down the Switch’s capture button instead of pressing it to save the last 30 seconds of gameplay in a 720P (1280 x 720), 30 frames per second video clip. Once finished, they can clip the video as they see fit and upload it to Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s a video I captured from Splatoon 2 and posted on Facebook.

It’s relatively low resolution, and playing it back via Facebook mucks things up significantly. Grabbing the raw file from Facebook and uploading it to YouTube clears it up a bit.

But really, not so great. Fine for capturing a particular cool fight in Splatoon or documenting a discovery in Zelda, but not something you’d want to send to Highlight Reel editor Chris Person. If you want high-quality video, a capture card is still your best bet.

On the plus side, short, low-quality video doesn’t take up a lot of room in storage. Two 30 second videos only take up 37 MB, or slightly more than 141 screenshots.

The Switch’s New Video Capture Function Isn’t Great

For a system with relatively limited storage, this is fine. I can’t see myself using the video capture feature on the Switch all that often (especially since I only regularly play one of the four currently supported games), but it’s better than spamming the screenshot button in the hopes of building a flipbook.


  • Wish this was around when I stringed together 5 kills in Splatoon 2 in about 30 seconds. Had me cackling like an idiot.

    • See that’s what it’s for, and it’s excellent at it! Something cool happens and then you can save it, there’s no need to plan ahead.

      And it’s a capture solution on a handheld. Even facebook and twitter uploads makes infinitely more sense than sticking 30s lumps on youtube, and you can always copy the videos from the sd card and stick them together as a larger YT video if that floats your boat.

      The reason it’s limited to those games atm is because it’s an opt-in feature, since some publishers have voiced (unreasonable) concern about allowing it on other platforms (P5). I’m sure we’ll be seeing a flood of compatible additions with the next wave of patches.

      I have a capture box for long-form recording, but i really like the streamlined nature of 30 second videos shared across twitter.

  • I’m honestly okay with this, although it’s weird that only these games support it.

    As with the other two major consoles, if you want to get serious about capturing footage, you need to whack it through an Elgato, and that’s fine.

    • This kind of restriction could either be for technical reasons or legal reasons. It is possible that it will work with any game, but they’re only enabling it when the developer consents to allow users to share clips of their games.

  • Does saving video on the fly take much power? I’m honestly surprised this is possible. Will games in the future not be able to push the machine 100% to leave room for this?

    • If two videos took 37 MB, then presumably you’d be looking at ~ 20 MB of RAM to maintain a 30 second ring buffer. If we assume the system doesn’t have dedicate H.264 encoder hardware, then it presumably costs a bit of CPU or GPU. As they’d be doing streaming compression, it presumably is going to be a faster/lower quality than what you’d do for an after-the-fact encoding.

      As for “pushing the machine 100%”, it is worth remembering that pretty much all modern consoles reserve some resources to the OS. So you’re never going to see a game use 100% of resources in the same way a SNES or Mega Drive game might have done. One benefit of this is that it might be possible for Nintendo to implement something like this within the reserved resources.

      • Yeah, I suppose 20mb isn’t much RAM to sacrifice, not to mention that it’s probably reserved for the OS anyhow.

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