Attack of the Fanboy

Nintendo Switch Online Voice Chat Will Use Smartphone

by William Schwartz


Not everything that Nintendo revealed about the Switch has been a hit with fans.  There have been a couple of questionable moves the company is making in terms of a new paid online service.  While the early rumblings of a free game trial have miffed fans about one perk of Nintendo’s new subscription-based online service, another caveat is Nintendo’s odd decision to use an app for smartphones as their voice chat option for Switch players.

Reggie Fils-Aime explained in a recent interview, “We are going to provide an overall online service, subscription-based, that not only will capture the multiplayer opportunity, but also the voice chat capability that we’re going to provide through a global app. We think that that’s just as important as access to Virtual Console content.

Instead of using a bulky gamer headset you’ll use your smartphone

The reason for that is, it continues to reinforce our commitment to online, and do so in a way that will enable the consumer to enjoy their Nintendo Switch and to still be able to play those connected experiences—like Splatoon, like Kart, like fill in the blank—while they’re on the go. Instead of having some sort of bulky gamer headset, you’ll be able to do it right off your smartphone, put in your earbuds that you use for your standard mobile device. We think that’s a pretty sweet solution. That’s part of the overall opportunity that we see in a subscription service.”

Nintendo might think that’s a “pretty sweet solution,” but it doesn’t really sound like one.  Games companies have already tried many times to implement second screen devices into their games and that fad quickly faded.  Having to use an app on your phone or mobile device to keep track of friends and communicate online sounds more like a nightmare and less like a service you’d pay for.

Regardless, that’s what it’s being marketed as.  Nintendo’s official page for their subscription service reveals, “Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─all from your smart device.  A free, limited version of this app will be available for download in summer 2017.”

I guess we’ll find out in a couple of months just how this app solution works for Nintendo.  Despite Fils-Aime downplaying the “bulky gamer headset” route that many gamers take on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC, it’s a system that has proven to work due to the ability to control in-game sound and voice communication rather well.

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