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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - What would less than 4GB RAM have meant for the Switch?

 

What would less than 4 GB RAM mean for Switch?

Hardware unit sales would... 4 17.39%
 
Hardware unit sales would've been higher 0 0%
 
Hardware unit sales would've been lower 12 52.17%
 
Hardware unit sales would've been much lower 6 26.09%
 
Other 1 4.35%
 
Total:23

https://www.technobuffalo.com/nintendo-switch-capcom-system-memory

RAM is a key part of computing. CPUs and GPUs are huge as well, but of course RAM is worth mentioning when discussing technical specifications. As you can see in the 2017 article I linked, Nintendo didn't put 4 GB RAM in the Switch until Capcom requested it. 

So what was the Switch going to have originally? A measly 2 GB RAM like the Wii U? A weird custom setup of 3 GB (1GB+2GB)? I don't think we have that answer. The information from Capcom just indicates that the RAM was less than 4 GB, not what it was overall.

Even with the fact that the type of RAM in Switch is better than Wii U, it wouldn't be much of a difference if it only capped out at 2 GB. The Switch already in a lot of ways just feels like a mid-gen refresh of the Wii U in the specs department, especially as a home console.

One of the big three did make a RAM mistake before. The PSP 1000 has a mere 32 MB of RAM. If you put that amount in a DSi (which has 16 MB RAM), that would be awesome. Heck, maybe it's even a bit unnecessary. But for the PSP, that small amount of RAM caused loading issues. Sony realized this, and all future models of the PSP have 64 MB RAM. This is the only time I can think of in gaming history where the RAM was increased (doubled at that), but the other key specs were left alone. Thus, PSP didn't have a mid-gen refresh like the DS did with the DSi. 

So would the Switch only having 2 GB (or even a weird 3 GB total) RAM hurt it in the long run if virtually all the other technical specifications were kept the same? I can guarantee we would see less third-party titles on Switch. Switch is so successful because of its first-party games and its hybrid hardware. But its plentiful third-party support helps.

Just look at Monster Hunter Rise. It's a console exclusive to Switch and won't have a Windows release until 2022. It has shipped more than 7 million copies. That's insane for a third-party game on a Nintendo platform, at least this soon. I can pretty much guarantee we wouldn't get a new Monster Hunter installment on Switch if it had less RAM. 

We also wouldn't see games like The Witcher 3, Doom, Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein II, and some others.

The Switch has been one of the most unpredictable pieces of gaming hardware ever in terms of its sales. What do you think less than 4 GB RAM would've meant for the Switch's hardware sales, software support, and in general?

Also, do you think it would've caused a mid-gen refresh in the Switch earlier on, or at least a RAM increase like the PSP? A Switch Pro/Deluxe/New or whatever is pretty much all but confirmed to be releasing this year.



Lifetime Sales Predictions 

Switch: 125 million (was 73, then 96, then 113 million)

PS5: 105 million Xbox Series S/X: 60 million

PS4: 122 mil (was 100 then 130 million) Xbox One: 50 mil (was 50 then 55 mil)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

"Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind." - Guru Laghima

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I think your assessment is more or less correct. A lot of companies wouldn't have bothered with ports/exclusives with significantly less RAM. Hell, it affected even the PS3 though the decrease in available RAM compared to the X360 was just a few dozen MB.

I doubt sales would have been more than a few million lower than it is (unless our alternate history lower RAM Switch also prevented the pandemic through the butterfly effect...) though it would certainly be a somewhat diminished console in terms of games library, visuals, etc.



 

 

 

 

 

The Ram lets the GPU breathe that little bit better so we could have higher resolution texture maps sitting in local memory rather than streamed from the ROM or solid state storage. (Although that still happens).

If anything 4GB is just the *right* amount from a bang for buck perspective, 8GB would have given developers a few more options.

2GB with the OS taking 1GB would have absolutely been restrictive... Wouldn't have affected Breath of the Wild or half of the first party exclusives as they are just WiiU ports, but other games would have had to have asset quality scaled back.

I think Doom/Wolfenstein etc' would have been possible with less Ram as the limitation for those games is actually the GPU, but the games would have had to be paired back even more significantly... The Witcher 3 would have looked even more barren by comparison...
Or developers would have had to go back and remove various lighting/shadow passes and bake it into the texture assets.

Either way, thank you Capcom. You did good.



--::{PC Gaming Master Race}::--

Many first party games wouldn't look as good, like Luigi's Mansion 3. While 3rd party ports don't affect hardware sales that much, having so many more than previous Nintendo consoles influenced the general perception of the system. With less RAM there would be way less 3rd party games in general and that would affect sales a bit. Considering MHR wouldn't be possible either in the long run it would have affected sales negativly more and more.



I think it probably would've missed out on some of its more ambitious 8th gen ports as (I assume) it would've been a lot more work to cram them down into 1.2GB (2GB total with the same size OS) of RAM compared to 3.2GB if they were designed with the 5.5GB of the PS4 and Xbone as the baseline.

Last edited by curl-6 - 6 days ago

Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

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Wman1996 said:

-Snip

One of the big three did make a RAM mistake before. The PSP 1000 has a mere 32 MB of RAM. If you put that amount in a DSi (which has 16 MB RAM), that would be awesome. Heck, maybe it's even a bit unnecessary. But for the PSP, that small amount of RAM caused loading issues. Sony realized this, and all future models of the PSP have 64 MB RAM. This is the only time I can think of in gaming history where the RAM was increased (doubled at that), but the other key specs were left alone. Thus, PSP didn't have a mid-gen refresh like the DS did with the DSi. 

-snip

Didn't the N64 double its RAM from 4 to 8MB with the Expansion Pack?



New 3DS doubled the RAM capacity too.



Wman1996 said:

https://www.technobuffalo.com/nintendo-switch-capcom-system-memory

RAM is a key part of computing. CPUs and GPUs are huge as well, but of course RAM is worth mentioning when discussing technical specifications. As you can see in the 2017 article I linked, Nintendo didn't put 4 GB RAM in the Switch until Capcom requested it. 

So what was the Switch going to have originally? A measly 2 GB RAM like the Wii U? A weird custom setup of 3 GB (1GB+2GB)? I don't think we have that answer. The information from Capcom just indicates that the RAM was less than 4 GB, not what it was overall.

Even with the fact that the type of RAM in Switch is better than Wii U, it wouldn't be much of a difference if it only capped out at 2 GB. The Switch already in a lot of ways just feels like a mid-gen refresh of the Wii U in the specs department, especially as a home console.

One of the big three did make a RAM mistake before. The PSP 1000 has a mere 32 MB of RAM. If you put that amount in a DSi (which has 16 MB RAM), that would be awesome. Heck, maybe it's even a bit unnecessary. But for the PSP, that small amount of RAM caused loading issues. Sony realized this, and all future models of the PSP have 64 MB RAM. This is the only time I can think of in gaming history where the RAM was increased (doubled at that), but the other key specs were left alone. Thus, PSP didn't have a mid-gen refresh like the DS did with the DSi. 

So would the Switch only having 2 GB (or even a weird 3 GB total) RAM hurt it in the long run if virtually all the other technical specifications were kept the same? I can guarantee we would see less third-party titles on Switch. Switch is so successful because of its first-party games and its hybrid hardware. But its plentiful third-party support helps.

Just look at Monster Hunter Rise. It's a console exclusive to Switch and won't have a Windows release until 2022. It has shipped more than 7 million copies. That's insane for a third-party game on a Nintendo platform, at least this soon. I can pretty much guarantee we wouldn't get a new Monster Hunter installment on Switch if it had less RAM. 

We also wouldn't see games like The Witcher 3, Doom, Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein II, and some others.

The Switch has been one of the most unpredictable pieces of gaming hardware ever in terms of its sales. What do you think less than 4 GB RAM would've meant for the Switch's hardware sales, software support, and in general?

Also, do you think it would've caused a mid-gen refresh in the Switch earlier on, or at least a RAM increase like the PSP? A Switch Pro/Deluxe/New or whatever is pretty much all but confirmed to be releasing this year.

PSP 1000 > PSP 2000/3000: 32 MB > 64MB

GB > GBC: 8Kbytes > 32Kbytes

DS > DSi: 4MB > 16MB

3DS > New 3DS: 128MB > 256MB



@ireadtabloids 

@HoangNhatAnh 

I'm not counting mid-gen refreshes, because RAM increases were usually expected for them. And they improve other specs besides RAM. So they're not in the same category as the PSP. 

@The_Yoda

Thanks for reminding me of that. It's a slightly similar situation. The difference is that the expansion pak is an accessory that you put into your N64. It was never built-in to an N64 SKU. Also, only select games required it. And other games didn't require it, but some were enhanced.

The N64 clearly should've just launched with 8 MB (even if that was a ton for a gaming console in 1996), or at the very least had an SKU in 1999 or 2000 that had the 8 MB RAM built-in.

Another interesting bit of history is the low RAM of the Famicom/NES. A lot of game cartridges added more RAM so the games could even run, like Super Mario Bros. 3. The Game Boy has about 4 times the RAM of the NES, if my calculations are correct. 

NES should've had more onboard RAM so that so many games didn't have to add it into the cartridge.



Lifetime Sales Predictions 

Switch: 125 million (was 73, then 96, then 113 million)

PS5: 105 million Xbox Series S/X: 60 million

PS4: 122 mil (was 100 then 130 million) Xbox One: 50 mil (was 50 then 55 mil)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

"Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind." - Guru Laghima

It would mean less high profile games, simple as that.Plenty of "impossible" ports on Switch like The Witcher 3 and The Outer Worlds are already making Switches beg for mercy with what they have now. Houses like Saber and Panic Button are technical magicians, no doubt, but even they can only do so much with so little.

Also, if I remember correctly, didn't half of Wii U's 2GB of RAM go to overhead functions like the OS and other background systems.