Why The Nintendo Switch's Voice Chat Is Done Through Mobile

The Switch chat setup.

After folks got a look at an early diagram for what voice chat on the Nintendo Switch will look like, they started to question whether or not handling the functionality through a mobile device was a good idea. According to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, there's one very good reason chatting with friends is being handled this way: It'll provide a better experience.

Last week was E3 2017 and amidst all of that insanity, the folks over at Kotaku had an opportunity to chat up Fils-Aime about all things Switch. When asked about handling voice chat through a smartphone app, the Ninty Pres said that, quite simply, they think it'll work out better this way.

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.

Ask a Switch owner what they think of the app approach, though, and you're likely to get a different perspective. But until we see the thing in action, we're not writing off Fils-Aime's claims just yet.

The first issue folks seem to have is the fact that nobody really seems to enjoy the idea of bringing an entirely different device into the equation while gaming. If a friend wants to chat or you want to speak with randos in an online match, it's probably preferable to just be able to do exactly that rather than fish for your phone, launch an app and then get rolling.

That equation gets more complicated when you take a gander at the first images of chat-ready tech coming to the Switch, requiring a separate dongle and a number of cords going between said dongle, the switch and your headset. There's nothing elegant about that particular setup.

To Reggie Fils-Aime's credit, he explains that what folks have gotten so upset about is just one third-party's take on how to handle the voice chat functionality and that other providers will offer other methods. We're hopeful that means a wireless option, as those cords look ridiculous and, unless we're missing something, would make it impossible to chat and play with the Switch docked at the same time.

Thankfully, Nintendo has time to work out the kinks. They've announced that their full online functionality won't be launching until 2018 and, until then, there are only a handful of games that would even benefit from chatting. Then again, when you're talking about Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Arms and Pokken Tournament, you're also talking about what will likely be the most-played games on the Switch until Mario Odyssey arrives in late 2017.

Ryan Winslett

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.