Next week, Google intends to reveal plans for its foray into the gaming industry at GDC – and while little is known about their intentions at the moment, delicious new details seem to be emerging daily.
According to a recent Chromium commit spotted in the wild by coder Owen Williams, Google is apparently testing the compatibility of its web browser with Nintendo's Switch controllers, including Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller – both in USB and Bluetooth modes.
Taking a look at the bug report, we've got a couple of additional details:
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can be paired over Bluetooth and used as a standard gamepad on desktop OSes. It is currently enumerated in Chrome but is unusable due to incorrect mappings for the D-pad and analog axes. Chrome should add a mapping for this popular device.
The Switch Pro controller is usable when connected by USB or Bluetooth, but defaults to a Bluetooth-only mode. This CL adds methods for recognizing Switch Pro controllers, sending the vendor-specific packets used for USB initialization and haptics, and reading controller data reports.
Chrome Unboxed, a site dedicated to Chrome OS news and updates, has also analysed the report and determined the following:
"From the looks of the commit and the included bug report, the [Google] team is working on getting the details ironed out to not only have the [Switch] controller noticed by the OS, but to allow Chrome to handle the actual implementation."
It's clear that these tests are focused on the possible gaming service Google may be ready to announce – including Chrome's ability to recognise and make use of controllers from current mainstream gaming devices. Considering the questionable designs we've seen circulating in recent days from Google's controller patent, the ability to use your own controller of preference with the rumoured gaming service would be welcome news.
Our assumption is that Google – as a newcomer in this well-established industry – intends to assimilate as much as possible within the existing fanbases, while also potentially taking on open spaces such as the wild west of online emulators.
One might wonder if all of these new developments pose any real threat to Nintendo, or established gaming companies in general (read more in our Talking Point here). However, a precedent has been set in the past for a relationship between Nintendo and Google – most notably, when they partnered on motion-based AR experiences for the Wii U using Google Street View technology. As we've said before: keep your friends close.
It is more than likely that all of these speculations will be fully addressed in Google's keynote at GDC next week in San Francisco. So until then, take every bit of information with a heap of salt – and keep rewatching that teaser trailer to try to figure out what the heck Google has been up to.
What do you think the Big G has in store for us? Will they take over the world, or be crushed by the likes of Nintendo and other gaming giants? Let us know your thoughts below.