The Nintendo Switch console officially launches tomorrow and many people are confused as to just how to add friends and send requests. The confusion stems from the recent revelation that the Nintendo Switch will use Friend Codes, despite Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime previously saying the Switch wouldn’t. The whole story is that the Nintendo Switch offers multiple ways to add friends, but that the Friend Code system is indeed the core method.
Here are the methods by which the Nintendo Switch currently allows users to add and request friends:
- Search with Friend Code – Sends a 1-way friend request to a user’s specific friend, who will see the request attached to the sender’s profile picture and Nintendo Account name. There is no option to attach a message.
- Search for Local Users – If both users have their Switch in the same location, this option allows them to pair their systems wirelessly and add each other as friends. There is an extra step involving both users choosing the same colored card, in case multiple different people are trying to add friends in the same area.
- Search for Users You Played With – This will list users who the user has played multiplayer games with recently.
- Friend Suggestions – Finally, Nintendo will automatically produce of recommended friends based on various additional details. Currently this system only recommends users who are already friends in Miitomo and Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s mobile games that use Nintendo Accounts.
Nintendo has already revealed certain plans for additional ways to add friends, including matching those who follow each other on Twitter or are Facebook friends via Friend Suggestions. That would also require both users have connected their social media accounts to their Nintendo Accounts.
Finally, Wii U or 3DS NNID friends will also be suggested eventually. Again, that requires both users to have connected their NNIDs to their Nintendo Accounts. There’s currently no planned release for these features.
The crux of people’s frustration is the absence of a method of searching for a friend’s Nintendo Account User ID. Searching for another user’s gamer tag is the default method of adding a friend on every other non-Nintendo gaming platform — PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, etc. It’s been that way for years.
Yet Nintendo has decided not to implement that system, despite Nintendo Accounts supporting unique User IDs. The accounts are secure enough for the eShop, but apparently not a friends list? It should be noted that User IDs are not required for Nintendo Accounts, however.
Theories abound for why Nintendo continues to prioritize Friend Codes. In the past, Nintendo described Friend Codes as safer for users, ensuring that Nintendo users don’t end up with strangers in their friends lists.
A more modern viewpoint would be Japan’s mobile gaming being heavily built around the use of friend codes and not gamer tags. Whatever the reason, the structure is in place on the Nintendo Switch to support a variety of way to add friends, some already in place and some possibly added in the future.