Nintendo Switch Voice Chat Done Through Mobile App: Does It Make Sense?

One look at the schematic for the Nintendo Switch’s voice chat feature will tell you that it’s an engineering disaster waiting to happen. A dongle, three separate devices and three cords to interconnect them is not “going to be better for the customer,” as Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has said.

voice chat nintendo switch

First of all, the Nintendo Switch is a mobile console that’s possibly more popular for its flexibility and mobility than any other feature. That’s one feature crippled by voice chat that uses multiple pieces of hardware: the console, the dongle, the smartphone and the headset.

The second reason, and this is one that the media gives, is that it will not be an elegant set-up. We could agree with that, but the chances of Nintendo wanting players to plug in a bunch of cables for a random chat with another player are quite slim. The device itself is fully wireless capable: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

So, there’s no reason to assume that Nintendo Switch owners will need to deal with a mess of cables. That would defeat the whole ‘mobility’ aspect of the Switch.

However, even assuming that Nintendo wants it to be a wireless experience, why use a smartphone app to make the connection?

According to Fils-Aime:

“We actually think that the phone is going to deliver a better, more robust execution. In terms of the APIs that we can build into an app, the fact that phones are ubiquitous, the fact that it allows us to do much more rapid improvements and updates to the service, that’s why we think a phone execution–and specifically a mobile app execution–is going to be better for the consumer.”

The voice chat capability is only coming in 2018, so Nintendo has a while to consider the best way to deploy this. But a mobile app certainly makes sense. People might not always have their Nintendo Switch on them, but nobody is going to be caught dead without their smartphone.

Admittedly, it might take some time to set it up the first time, since you’ll need to get the app, set up the connections and possibly pair some hardware via Bluetooth. But once that’s done, the communication could become truly mobile, allowing people to play on the go and chat using just a wired or wireless headset and their smartphone.

It’s a bold move, but one that could help the Nintendo Switch maximize the social element of game-playing that’s often only sated by chat interaction. Voice chat might not be a game-changer, and it would only benefit a handful of gaming scenarios considering the titles currently available to Nintendo Switch, but it’s a strong move that reaffirms Nintendo’s commitment to the growing Switch community that already numbers in the millions.

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