“A new an­gle on voice chat. An an­gle that was the right call”

Luke Kemp ar­gues that Nin­tendo’s novel take on chat for Switch is ac­tu­ally a good thing

Games Master - - Upfront -

I’m not sure why peo­ple say voice chat on Nin­tendo Switch is com­pli­cated. It’s sim­ple: down­load the app to your phone, buy the be­spoke head­set if you want to use a mic, care­fully ar­range all the ca­bles, sac­ri­fice an an­i­mal of cloven hoof, and you’re good to go. Okay, I may have ex­ag­ger­ated (a non-cloven-hoofed an­i­mal is fine), but Switch has the most re­stric­tive and least user-friendly voice chat of any sys­tem. Nin­tendo’s ap­proach to chat should come as no sur­prise, given its his­tory. Like it or not, the firm has al­ways po­si­tioned it­self as the most fam­ily-friendly company out there. Things have changed a lot since Mor­tal Kom­bat was stripped of its blood and saw its fa­tal­i­ties cen­sored on SNES – yes, that re­ally hap­pened – but to­day, Nin­tendo’s clearly more con­cerned with real-world is­sues.

The Wii U had voice chat, but only a very small num­ber of games were sup­ported, and hardly anybody used it. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and shar­ing among play­ers was mostly limited to the Mi­iverse, which is weird, won­der­ful – and heav­ily mod­er­ated. Nin­tendo has dumped the Mi­iverse with Switch in favour of shar­ing screen­shots on so­cial me­dia, and a new an­gle on voice chat. An an­gle that was the right call. There, I said it.

A load of app

Go­ing through a phone isn’t con­ve­nient, and the app still needs some pol­ish. But the ben­e­fits! As a gamer, I en­joy hav­ing a con­sole where I never have to hunt through menus mid-game to mute an­noy­ing peo­ple. As a par­ent, it’s great to have a con­sole where I can be 100% sure my kids will never have to en­dure foul-mouthed abuse while play­ing on­line (un­less I’m par­tic­u­larly dis­pleased with their per­for­mance, of course). There’s also no dan­ger of re­ceiv­ing abu­sive mes­sages from ran­dom play­ers, which Nin­tendo also makes im­pos­si­ble.

The Switch is a gam­ing mis­tress; The Other Con­sole. Of the many peo­ple I know who own one, not a sin­gle per­son doesn’t also own a PS4, Xbox One, or gam­ing PC. Any up­com­ing mul­ti­for­mat games where we feel voice chat is im­por­tant, we’ll buy another ver­sion. If you or I re­ally want to chat with friends in a com­pat­i­ble Nin­tendo exclusive, it can be done... even­tu­ally.

Yes, Nin­tendo has made Switch chat awk­ward; but this was en­tirely pre­dictable, and there’s noth­ing (too) wrong with the way it is in con­text. If you re­ally hate it, you could al­ways side­step it en­tirely with Skype or What­sApp. Enough chat­ting; go en­joy your games!

“I never have to hunt through menus mid-game to mute an­noy­ing peo­ple”

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