Notoriously, Nintendo’s online gaming has been terrible when compared with its direct competition of PlayStation and Microsoft. We as humans are at a point in our modern history where the world is as small as its ever been. Phone calls across the world are connected in seconds, emails sent anywhere to anyone, text messages, snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, the list goes on and on. Inclusion is the word here, as social media opens up the ability to interact with anyone from anywhere and any time. Some of these apps include calls and voice chats, a staple of modern gaming since Xbox Live was introduced in the 90s.
Nintendo has often, though curiously not always, avoided a voice chat friendly approach to online gaming. This can be seen in most every console they’ve made, though they have offered some alternatives that were never easy to setup and never as intuitive to use. The Wii had Wii Chat, and the Wii U had some built in systems for certain games. The Switch has been a regression from even these modest options offered by Nintendo. I could chat with friends on Mario Kart 8 for Wii U right through the Gamepad, but, as far as I’m aware, I can’t do it on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in any capacity.
Voice Chat aside, the act of even playing games with players on your friends list is painful at best, and sometimes impossible. Splatoon 2, a game seemingly built to be played with friends, doesn’t offer an in game invite system, nor the ability to voice chat without the use of an external app. For a co-operative shooter, it makes no sense why Nintendo would make teaming up with people you actually know so difficult. In fact, no first party Nintendo game has a messaging or invite system.
Now news has surfaced that Nintendo has made playing online with friends in Mario Maker 2 impossible, yet they do allow you to play with strangers. Doth my ears deceive me? What?! This is so ass backwards it makes my head hurt. Why would I want to play with someone I don’t know and who I can’t speak to anyway in a game like this?
For all Nintendo does well in gaming, it’s actually baffling how bad they are with online gaming. The simplest aspects are made mind-numbingly difficult, and with no messaging or invite system it begs the question, why even have a friends list?
That question can be answered by the simple answer that some third party games do make it easy to play together. Rocket League, Paladins, Doom, amongst others have their own built in invite and messaging systems. Having friends then makes sense for these third party games but if you don’t play these games, having friends means looking at a list of people you will almost certainly never easily play games with.
Nintendo is about 10 years behind the undisputed leaders of the industry in this regard, a self-inflicted wound that can only be healed by offering services worthy of the time we live.