The Nintendo Switch doesn’t go on sale until tomorrow, but the day one firmware update is already live and adds some basic functionality to the system.
As reported by Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo, who’s posted an informative piece breaking down all the new features, the update’s main job is to actually let the Switch go online and start downloading games. However, it looks like the update has also brought with it a feature that many Nintendo fans are probably not eager to see again.
Nintendo introduced friend codes when it first went online with its consoles, requiring users to input 12-digit codes in order to add someone to their friends list. The system was designed to make Nintendo consoles safer for kids, but in practice it was cumbersome and annoying, requiring players to tell other people their code, whether through email, phone, or whatever other form of communication. Nintendo actually dropped friend codes from the Wii U, apparently realizing what a silly idea it was, but for whatever reason, it looks like they’re back on the Switch:
Thankfully, it seems like you’ll still be able to add people without having to use friend codes if you’ve played with that person online previously. However, as Totilo notes, it’s hard to know for sure considering you can’t yet play Switch games online.
While the return of friend codes is disappointing, it’s hard to gauge how much of an impact, if any, they’ll have on the Switch’s user experience at this point in time. With additional new features like a “suggested friends” list and the ability to sync friends lists across multiple devices using Nintendo Accounts, the Switch looks like it will have the most user-friendly social experience of any Nintendo system to date, but how it will compare to the functionality of competing hardware like the PS4 and Xbox One is anyone’s guess right now.