Whoever Designed Nintendo Switch’s Voice Chat Needs to be Fired

So the big news of last week was Nintendo’s press conference where they revealed more about their upcoming new console the Nintendo Switch. The console, releasing in March, is going to be a hybrid mobile and home console. Basically, it is a tablet with controllers that can either dock on the side or be used wirelessly but the tablet can also be used in its dock to be connected to your home TV. The console is more powerful when docked because it is not trying to save battery life and there is an extra cooling fan in the dock itself. In addition to a new Zelda game on release and a new Mario on the way, Nintendo is also going to finally implement a good online services. It looks like they are finally embracing online multiplayer and will be launching a paid service similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live.

Of course they would not be Nintendo if they did not do one step forward and two steps back. Rather than talking about the incredibly small hard drive space (32Gb in 2017? Why?) let’s talk about how online voice chat is going to work. Rather than letting you connect a headset to the console, you have to download the app to your smart phone and use your smartphone to do voice chat. No seriously here is the webpage that explains it. If you have any idea why this would be a good design decision leave a comment because I am completely baffled that this was not only proposed but implemented in the final design.

I don’t even know where to begin with how bad of a design idea this is. It requires your user base to have access to a smart phone. Which would be fine if Nintendo’s demographic did not skew towards children. Are they expecting parents to hand off their phone to their child when they want to play Minecraft with friends? If I want to game on the go, I know have to have both my Switch and my phone fully charged and with me. At least my phone still has a headphone jack, iPhone users are going to have to shell out for the new Air Pods Apple is pushing.

I am also very confused about how the audio is going to work. Is my Switch going to be muted and the audio plus voice streamed to my phone instead? Or am I going to get voice through the phone and game sound through the switch? If it’s the former (which I am scared it is) how much audio lag are we going to have to deal with? Imagine playing a FPS with a 1 second delay on audio only.

This design decision makes me want to wait at least a month before getting the console. And I am a Nintendo fanboy, I grew up on Nintendo consoles. I have not owned anything but Nintendo consoles. That said, Nintendo’s take on how parent’s should monitor their child’s play is super cute. Their a video game company but still its nice for them to be showing how video games are an okay activity for your child to be doing and how to deal with video games. I especially love how they emphasize forcing a system turn off is a lot more devastating than most parent’s think it is.

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