Nintendo: Switch’s Reliance on Smartphone App for Voice Chat is ‘The Easiest Way’

Before Nintendo Switch Online finally released last month and quickly became one of the console’s more underwhelming aspects — or at least such a sentiment appears to be shared among a vast majority of users far and wide — the requirement to use a separate smartphone app outside the confines of the console itself, to initiate voice chat (something that neither Microsoft nor Sony force users to do with their own respective systems), similarly devolved into a fairly-isolated if still notable criticism on Nintendo’s approach to online features.

But speaking yesterday at this year’s Geekwire Summit in Seattle, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Amie, attempted to offer some manner of explanation as to why the company went down this peculiar route, as transcribed by Ars Technica. In Reggie’s defense, his explanation is — in some respect — sensical to an extent, when taking into consideration the context of the Nintendo Switch being a portable console that can be taken outside the home and beyond.

“What we see is a situation where we know that Nintendo Switch is being played in the open, at a park, on a metro bus,” he explains. “We believe the easiest way for you to connect and have a peer-to-peer experience with voice chat is with your mobile phone. It’s always there, it’s always with you.” Even so, as understandable this argument might be to a degree, it still doesn’t excuse the complete lack of a voice chat system within the Switch itself for those who decide to use the console at home and/or in docked mode.

At least Reggie offered some additionally PR-coated words to explain Nintendo’s position in the realm of online play: “Nintendo’s approach is to do things differently,” he preceded. “We have a much different suite of experiences than our competitors offer, and we do that in a different way. This creates a sort of yin and yang for our consumers. They’re excited about cloud saves and legacy content but wish we might deliver voice chat a different way, for example.” It was only recently that the issue surrounding cloud saves was clarified, the company confirming that you have up to six months roughly to renew a previously-expired subscription before one’s cloud saves were gone for good. How Nintendo will change voice chat, if at all, looks to remain as mere wishful thinking.