Nintendo is having Switch-related issues, when it comes to the system's online services.Regardless of whether it's on top of the game or at the bottom of the heap, Nintendo has long done things its own way. Sometimes it works, creating some of the greatest games and consoles of all time. Other times it doesn't, and the company is left reeling as an innovation-based console tanks. With the Nintendo Switch, though, the Big N seems to once again have it all figured out.
Well, almost all. The company still hasn't figured out what it should do with its online services, and that's a problem that's becoming more and more apparent as Nintendo moves forward in our always-connected world.
With the release of Splatoon 2, gamers are really starting to realize just how cumbersome and awkward the Switch's voice chat function is. It's kind of understandable why Nintendo thought offloading some of its online functions to an app would be a good idea; after all, there's only so much hardware space to go around in the Switch, and by using a dedicated app on gamers' smartphones, the console wouldn't have to manage voice functions as well as everything else it needs to do in-game. The reality of app-controlled chat and online functions is less than spectacular, though, especially with three cables and a splitter being required just to get voice chat working. It works, but it creates needless physical connections for a console that from day one has been touted as ready to pick up and go on a moment's notice.
Got my Switch voice chat going. Hit me up if you on! pic.twitter.com/4TwiT49DyU
— Futurist Dog (@FuturistDog) July 20, 2017
To make matters worse, the Nintendo app apparently drains phone batteries quickly and requires a significant amount of setup to get going. The phone must remain on and unlocked while the app is in use, and no other phone functions (including calls and text messaging) can be used or the app will shut down. And that doesn't even address the possibility that some players may not have a phone that's capable of running the app.
switch voice app
-kills phone in 40 mins
-must be open at all times
-hori nightmare setup mandatory for voice chat
It keeps getting worse.
— Danny Smith (@Dope_Danny) July 20, 2017
Can't do Nintendo Switch Online voice chat while using other phone apps pic.twitter.com/ZZO1EAb1cx
— Wario64 (@Wario64) July 19, 2017
The realities of the Switch's voice chat are just the latest headaches to plague Nintendo regarding its online service. With Nintendo refusing to comment about whether a full Virtual Console will ever come to the Switch and seeming to focus its classic gaming releases on hardware like the upcoming SNES Classic, options for those who want to play their favorite old-school games on the Switch remain limited. Purchases that are made from the e-store don't transfer from one console to another, either, meaning that if something happens to your Switch you'll have to re-purchase everything if you go out and buy a new one.
Even the Switch's hardware profile suggests that Nintendo just doesn't 'get' how connected everything is in the modern world. Despite how prevalent downloads and digital purchasing are, the Switch seems designed with the expectation that people will prefer to buy physical games instead of buying them online. Some games for the Switch are actually larger than the console's internal storage - and unlike some of Nintendo's handhelds, the console doesn't come with an SD card out of the box. Anyone who plans on buying even a few titles digitally has to have an SD card to save them to, making it an all-but-required piece of add-on hardware.
Nintendo's apparent lack of online acknowledgement was one thing when it just meant trading friend codes on the Wii. Now it's a service that the company is slated to start charging for soon - and despite its relatively low price, it's still lacking in some fundamental ways. The Switch is a much-needed hit for Nintendo, but its online service issues could cause long-term player retention issues and might strain relationships with third-party developers who are just starting to get back onboard with the company after the Wii U.