Yes, you read that headline right.
Microsoft’s flagship online gaming service Xbox Live is coming to Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android. The news was revealed through the name of Microsoft’s upcoming presentation “Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox, and PC (Presented by Microsoft).” The company will roll this out at the Game Developers Conference in March.
The description for the event reads: “Xbox Live players are highly engaged and active on Xbox and PC, but now they can take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen.” Microsoft clearly didn’t want people to know this yet, as the conference listing has been removed from the Game Developers Conference schedule.
Almost 20 years ago, Microsoft revolutionized online gaming with Xbox Live. The service introduced many features that are now standard, like friends lists, universal usernames, voice chat, parties, achievements, matchmaking, lobbies, and more. Basically, every online gaming service, from PlayStation Network to Steam, has been built off the foundation of Xbox Live. The obvious exception is, of course, Nintendo.
Nintendo has been infamous for their complete inability to make a decent online service. For a company that makes some of the most creative and innovative games ever, online seems to be the one concept Nintendo cannot get right. From 12-digit Friend Codes to a lack of matchmaking and voice chat, Nintendo disappointed online gamers consistently, but their incompetence was tolerable enough because their services were free. Nintendo Switch Online was Nintendo’s first attempt at a premium online service, and reception has been overwhelmingly negative due to the service’s lack of basic features like built-in voice chat.
Xbox Live coming to Switch could provide a much-needed boost to Nintendo’s online community. The ability to party up with friends and chat with them through supported games would provide Nintendo fans with the functional online service they’ve begged for. While we don’t exactly know how the service will work on the Switch, it certainly can’t hurt the console’s online reputation. Also, though it’s unclear if Xbox Live would cost money on the Switch, it should be noted that the Switch version of Minecraft uses Xbox Live for multiplayer at no additional cost.
Nintendo and Microsoft have shown that they’re willing to work with each other over the past few months, including teaming up to make a commercial that promotes crossplay between their consoles. Bringing Xbox Live to Switch is the next step in this relationship, so who knows what collaborations the two companies will make in the future?