The Nintendo Switch has officially been unveiled and based on the fact that initial pre-orders sold out pretty much everywhere, it’s safe to say that the console will be a hit when it launches on March 3rd. That being said, as much as I think there’s a lot to like about the Switch, I’m a bit worried about its long term prospects (and I say this as someone who pre-ordered the thing as soon as it became available).
The most worrisome thing for me is that Nintendo seems to be repeating many of the same mistakes that led to the Wii U being a failure, while also creating a few new problems unique to the Switch itself. To be fair, it’s still too early to know for sure whether Nintendo’s missteps will hurt the Switch in the long run, but based on the following decisions, I’m more than a little concerned that Nintendo hasn’t learned the right lessons from their past mistakes.
10. Using A Phone App For Voice Chat
The Switch’s online features have been a major source of confusion so far, particularly because Nintendo is tying a lot of it to a mobile companion app. While I think it’s actually a great idea for Nintendo to have an app that lets Switch owners interact with their friends and perform other functions on the system, there’s one feature in particular that I’m still having a very hard time wrapping my head around because it frankly makes no sense. Here’s Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aimé explaining to Nintendo Everything how the Switch’s voice chat will work:
“The bigger vision is that 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.
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.”
While I can somewhat buy the mobile app’s usefulness as a voice chat option when using the Switch in handheld mode while you’re travelling somewhere, I think it’s a huge mistake to have this be the only way for voice chat to work on the console. Contrary to what Reggie may think, there are many fantastic (and comfortable) headsets out there, but more importantly, this whole voice chat over mobile app thing seems to offer a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist. Seriously, how hard is it for Nintendo to just let people use a damn USB headset to talk to their friends. At any rate, we’ll have to wait for Nintendo to clarify the reasoning behind this decision more because frankly, I am not following their logic on this one at all right now.