Nintendo Switch Source Code Leak Hints At Virtual Reality Support

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Virtual Boy

Virtual reality could very well end up being the future of gaming. Or it could not—it is just too early to tell at the moment. No company wants to be left behind, however, and it appears as though Nintendo may have baked support for some kind of VR technology into its dual-purpose Switch game console. A peek at the source code reveals a reference to a mysterious “VrMode,” leading to speculation as to what Nintendo is cooking up.

Have a look:

The reference was found Cody Brocious, a principal security consultant at Accuvant Labs and founder of Trapped Orbit Research, according to his Twitter profile (@daeken). Nintendo’s code relates to the Switch’s interprocess communication (IPC) interfaces, which are mechanisms of the operating system that allow processes to manage shared data. According to Brocious, the tidbit shown above is all Nintendo code, and not leftover bits from NVIDIA and Android.

“This is not Android code in any way. This is part of the appletOE IPC interface, and it’s 100 percent Nintendo code. I can’t confirm whether or not this works as of yet, but I’m at about a 90 percent confidence that this is at least partial virtual reality support. I’ll know more in a day or two when I can actually test it properly,” Brocious said.

If that is indeed the case, there are a couple of possibilities here. One is that Nintendo built some kind of VR support into the Switch, with future plans of doing something with it, perhaps with an update down the line. The other possibility is that Nintendo toyed with VR support at one point, but scrapped the idea, leaving behind inconsequential bits and references in the Switch’s source code.

Whatever the case, Nintendo likes to wander off the beaten path. That was evident with the Wii and Wii U, and again with the Switch, which was designed for playing games both in the living room on a big screen TV and on the go. This also brings to mind the Virtual Boy, a 32-bit system Nintendo designed in 1995 and marketed as the first console capable of delivering stereoscopic 3D graphics. Perhaps a Virtual Boy 2 accessory for the Switch is in the cards.

Top Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Gregorious Kythreotis)