Excitement is building as Google’s big gaming announcement at GDC 2019 next week approaches. An interesting, potentially related development has cropped up now in Google Chrome, with the browser picking up native support for Nintendo Switch controllers.
While there’s still some mysteries involved with Google’s GDC announcement, like what sort of hardware will be involved, one thing we’re relatively confident in seeing is a bigger and better version of last year’s Project Stream. Using Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Project Stream showed us that AAA gaming can occur right in the Chrome browser, including support for wired gaming controllers.
It seems Google is continuing to ramp up native support for more game controllers, according to a new commit we discovered last night (also spotted by Owen Williams) in Chromium’s Gerrit source code management. The commit’s title, “Improve support for Nintendo Switch gamepads,” makes its goal clear.
For the last year or so, Google Chrome has had early support for the Switch Pro controller (on Linux), but this new code change takes things much further. Instead of just providing a better experience for the Switch Pro controller, Chrome will soon have support for the Joy-Con, both individually and as a pair. This even includes the Joy-Con Charging Grip via USB.
Chrome’s support is enabled through the standard Gamepad API, meaning all web developers will be able to take advantage of Nintendo Switch controllers in their games and applications with little to no extra work.
As the commit is still labeled as a “work-in-progress,” we may not be able to start using our Switch controllers in the browser until at least Chrome 75, if not later.
According to the code, some of the work was made possible (or at least simpler) thanks to reverse engineering work done by dekuNukem. From this, we can assume that Google is not working with Nintendo on “official” support for the Switch’s controllers in Chrome.
I sincerely hope that whatever Google’s plans are for next week, I can bring my Switch Pro Controller with me, if only because the battery life is just incredible.