The Nintendo Switch is undoubtedly one of the most innovative consoles on the market, combining portability, solid performance, and a lineup of excellent games: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2, to name a few. The spunky design – a screen between two detachable controllers on either side, which can be configured in a number of different ways – showed the world just what the Wii U aspired to be. Currently, it has become Nintendo’s best-selling console and just keeps growing in popularity.
In short, the Switch is heckin’ cool! So cool, in fact, we would argue that within the niche market Nintendo has created, it is almost PERFECT. Almost…
Despite its other qualities, the Switch lacks one feature: a good way to connect with other players.
Basics of the issue
Turn on the Nintendo Switch and open a profile. You’ll find three subsections related to friend activity: Friend List, Friend Suggestions, and Add Friend. The Friend List shows your current friends, whether or not they are online, and what game they are currently playing if so. The Friend Suggestions tab allows you to find friends from social media and other Nintendo devices. Finally, Add Friend lets you send and receive friend requests, as well as search for users that you’ve played with recently, who are nearby, or who have chosen a “Friend Code”.
So, what’s the big deal?
After discovering friends, sending requests, and linking your profiles, the Switch doesn’t allow any communication between users.
See a friend online? Go ahead and select their profile. You’re only given three options: make them a Best Friend (which places them at the top of the list), remove them as your friend, or block them. No sending messages, no chatting with a microphone, no way to let them know you’re online. Even if you start playing the same game as your friend and join their team, there’s still no chat allowed.
You’ll just have to find a way to talk in-game…
Don’t get us wrong, we still love the Switch and believe this problem will be fixed in the near future. In fact, we have two solid theories on what Nintendo may be doing.
What this probably means
Nintendo bears its family-friendly history like a badge. Their consoles and games have often been designed to bring people together both in-game and online. Remember cord-assisted Pokemon trading? The physical movement of the Wii remote? Aspects like encouraged Nintendo users to get out, about, active, and most importantly, connected to others.
The Switch’s current lack of messaging could be intended to avoid caustic communities around their games. For an example of how this looks, check out Splatoon 2. After the tutorial, your game experience begins in a city square populated by other players, idling about, who communicate through small drawings.
Thanks to this system, Nintendo is able to allow community messaging and conversation to happen without anything too hateful or negative invading the positive and kid-friendly atmosphere.
What this Could Mean
On the other hand, Nintendo also plans to create a paid online service – like Xbox Gold or Playstation Live – beginning in September of 2018. Since playing games across the internet currently costs nothing for Switch users, the change from free to paid could very well produce anger. Nintendo may already have messaging software ready, but has planned to provide free user communication tools to smooth out the transition.
If this turns out to be the case, we’re excited for September! Although Nintendo adopting a subscription program disappoints us, it’s a trend that console gamers have become familiar with and makes sense for Nintendo’s business.
Still, Switch users may want to find other ways to send messages to online friends, and we have some ideas for you!
- Ask yourself: are your friends already connected elsewhere? As we’ve mentioned, the Switch allows you to meet with people nearby, or from social media. If you’re able to chat in person, on Facebook, or on the phone, use those methods to stay in touch!
- What game are you playing? Remember, games like Fortnite have in-house chat programs that will allow your friends to use voice chat. But REMEMBER: you’ll only be able to use this form of communication while playing that game, so it may be best to connect over social media or by phone, as we noted in suggestion 1.
- The creative approaches. If you met someone on the Switch in a game that doesn’t allow chat, it may be difficult to send a message. Instead, you could find a way to send a pictogram within the game or ask around online through sites like Reddit. There’s no telling how you may bump into your mystery friend.
We’re excited to see where the Switch goes from here, and hope a solution to this problem will be set in place to make the Switch even better!