Nintendo has launched the smartphone app that will allow Switch owners to engage in matchmaking and chat with each other while playing online. The console’s online system caused some controversy when it was announced earlier this year, and the initial response to the release seems to suggest that things aren’t quite perfect.
Many Nintendo fans were disappointed by the fact that they would have to use a smartphone app to engage in voice chat, rather than a traditional headset. Now that the app is out in the wild and we know exactly how it works, these criticisms seem valid.
For one, users need to have their smartphone’s screen active while they are using the app — it can’t be in sleep mode. This is obviously going to be a huge battery drain during long gameplay sessions, and will likely force many to keep their device plugged in while it’s in use.
In addition, it’s not possible to use other apps while a voice chat is in session, as leaving the Switch app breaks the connection and ends the voice chat. Given that other apps are able to maintain voice communications in the background, it’s disappointing to see this kind of limitation in place.
Nintendo has garnered a reputation for being behind the curve when it comes to online play recently, but the seemingly inadequate nature of the online app for the Switch is especially unfortunate since it was supposed to represent a step forward in online development for Nintendo. Of course, there’s always a chance that the company will update the software and make necessary improvements over the coming months.
This is a crucial component of the Switch’s online infrastructure, and at present it seems that it simply doesn’t make the grade. The app does offer more than one way for users to submit feedback, so hopefully Nintendo will take note of the comments it receives.
The Nintendo Switch online app is available now for iOS and Android devices.