Nintendo certainly has some, uh, well interesting ideas (to put it nicely) when it comes to implementation of online services and this has to be one of them. Where PS4 and Xbox One offer built in, system level voice chat for all games natively, Nintendo will instead rely on an app on your smartphone to provide the same feature. This is particularly frustrating, because the Switch being a tablet should be able to provide voice chat support natively.
Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime explained the reasoning behind the odd decision in a recent interview, “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 —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.”
I… am not sure I follow his reasoning fully? The one advantage to this I can see is that smartphones should be able to restrict access to voice chat by younger players, meaning Nintendo should now be able to support the feature universally for each game, instead of the patchy implementation that we saw with the Wii U and its games, but… couldn’t they have just managed this on the system itself, via utilization of some form of parental controls?