When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, many have expected Nintendo to focus more on online than its past consoles, especially since online gaming has become an integral part of the industry. For the most part, Nintendo has taken some steps to improve its online services, but in other ways, it seems to have regressed, with one example being the way it is handling voice chat. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime recently discussed the console’s use of a mobile phone app, explaining why Nintendo opted for using an app instead of traditional voice chat.
“We actually think that the phone is going to deliver a better, more robust execution. In terms of the APIs that we can build into an app, the fact that phones are ubiquitous, the fact that it allows us to do much more rapid improvements and updates to the service, that’s why we think a phone execution—and specifically a mobile app execution—is going to be better for the consumer.”
In summation, Reggie’s claim is that Nintendo decided to use a mobile phone app for voice chat on the Nintendo Switch because it will allow for more frequent updates to the system. However, the company’s decision to use a mobile phone app for the Switch comes with some inconveniences for the consumer.
The most obvious inconvenience is that since voice chat on the Switch requires a mobile phone app, that means people will need a smartphone or a similar device to use the service. This may not be a problem for some, but others would rather just plug in a headset like on PC and other consoles. Furthermore, the many kids that play the Nintendo Switch may not be able to access voice chat at all due to the mobile requirement – though it’s arguable if that is really a bad thing or not.
So far, the Switch’s implementation of voice chat has been sloppy, leaving both consumers and developers confused on how to implement it well. The most glaring example of this is Splatoon 2‘s voice chat setup through Hori, which requires an adapter and three cords to connect the Switch, phone, and headset.
Despite Nintendo’s reasoning, it still seems like its voice chat solution for the Switch was not the best move. Moving forward, we’ll have a better idea of how consumers will respond to Switch voice chat once the system has more games that actually use its online multiplayer services.
Nintendo Switch is available now.