A character in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
Image via the Pokémon Company

How to improve Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s lag and poor performance issues on Nintendo Switch

You can't just blame one element for this mess.

While the visual fidelity of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is somewhat improved from even Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ release earlier this year, the Nintendo Switch has really started showing its age with how newer games continue to be held back by comparably outdated hardware—at least in most cases. 

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When a new “AAA” title runs even moderately well on the Switch. it is viewed as almost a technical marvel for the developers behind the title or port. This is due to the Switch housing internal components that were struggling to keep up with the likes of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, let alone the standards being set for current-gen titles now. 

While Game Freak has managed to bring the Pokémon franchise into a truly open-world format in a way that will thrill fans both new and old, the gameplay and thrill can only detract from how poorly the games run for so long. 

Related: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet plagued with performance issues despite day-one patch

You can play Scarlet and Violet from start to finish without experiencing any game-breaking bugs—though hard crashes have been reported—or poor experience with the story, format, or mechanics. The issue comes in the frequently dipping framerate, glitching camera/models/textures, and just general lag that will be present throughout your entire playthrough. 

And, while there are some methods you can try to mitigate a few of the performance issues, it appears that most players will just have to battle through issues as if they are just another obstacle in their journey through Paldea. 

Can you improve performance, FPS, stuttering, and other issues in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet?

Even after receiving a day one patch, Scarlet and Violet are arguably the worst performing Pokémon games almost entirely because the ambition and scale outclass what the Switch can handle—regardless of how you feel about Game Freak’s design practices.

But that is not an excuse, as games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Monster Hunter Rise, and the recent NieR:Automata port all perform much better than Scarlet and Violet across the board in ways that in some instances are even more ambitious than Game Freak’s latest project. So there is only so far you can take the “Switch isn’t powerful enough” argument before it falls back on optimization and other factors. 

Regardless, because of whatever inherent problem the games have, there are very few options players have when trying to improve the performance of these titles in any meaningful way. 

Does Pokémon Scarlet and Violet perform better in Handheld or Docked mode? 

The most consistent topic being tossed around is that playing the games in Handheld Mode actually helps the performance in certain areas. Namely, players are noting that many of the stuttering issues, pop-ins, and more serious framerate issues are much more noticeable or prominent while playing with the Switch docked. 

In some areas, this appears to be true and the claim about models popping in less frequently holds up in at least a few comparisons. For the vast majority of the time, however, FPS and stuttering are shared across Handheld and Docked performance.

Strictly speaking for traversal, if you plan on jumping back and forth between areas a lot and want to avoid the stutters and pops of models and textures, playing handheld might actually improve your experience somewhat. Though be warned, it is not a fix for any existing problem, and reports of original model Switches performing markedly worse in Handheld Mode with these games are out there too. 

Does reducing the resolution improve Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s performance on Nintendo Switch? 

Another option some users are suggesting is going into the Switch’s System Settings and manually setting the TV Output resolution to either 720p or 480p rather than the default attempt to output at 1080p. 

This might help you with some FPS issues, but there has been no proof that this impacts other bouts of lag, visual hiccups, or any of the actual gameplay bugs. You are better off playing the game as it is intended and trying to ignore the most prominent problems. 


Outside of these “methods” to improve performance, fans are likely stuck waiting for Game Freak and The Pokémon Company to release post-launch patches that will—fingers crossed—begin to fix a lot of the most apparent issues. 

Overall, people are enjoying every aspect of the game beyond its poor optimization, so if you can look past, a lot of problems on that front you will probably have an absolute blast with what many are calling an amazing experience and story. But anyone who can’t look beyond those very clear and blatant problems in a full-priced AAA title is entirely valid for voicing their opinions. 

A possible solution

According to Pokémon news outlet Centro Pokémon, framerate issues appear to stem from a “memory leak” that occurs when players are close to towns or cities. After a series of tests, Centro—and several fans—discovered saving the game and restarting it entirely can temporarily fix the issue.

If this is the case, a patch or hotfix to fix up those leaks could solve lag and performance issues entirely depending on how heavily they are impacting the games.

Either way, sit back and enjoy the ride because you will either like the games or have fun watching what will likely end up being the largest compilation of glitches and poor performance in Pokémon franchise history. And that is saying something after Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl came out unfinished before its day one patch.


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Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.
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Jerome Heath
Jerome Heath is a senior editor at Dot Esports.