It would be fair to say that the launch of the Nintendo Switch has been a resounding success for the Japanese company. And the console’s early success is largely thanks to the mistakes Nintendo learned from its predecessor, the Wii U. With that in mind, since its launch in early March, the Switch has seen a steady and solid stream of both first and third party releases.
An example of one of those such releases is Splatoon 2, which launched on the console last month. Splatoon 2 is an absolutely tremendous game, and a refreshing take on the online shooter category, much like the Wii U release of Splatoon in 2015. However, it also highlights the Switch’s biggest problem; Nintendo’s shameful approach to online play.
Shortly after the game’s release, a friend and I who regularly play games together on PlayStation 4, decided that we’d hop into a game of Splatoon 2. However, we were astonished to find that the game’s online functionality requires a minimum of four players to form a party, and it won’t just match you with two other players to form a team. Instead, myself and players like me, are forced to resort to finding other team mates on Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and other social media platforms just to form a team.
In 2017, this just shouldn’t be the case.
As anyone who has played on PS4 or Xbox One, or even their predecessors, the PS3 and Xbox 360 will know, it’s been a staple of online gaming for many years for players to form a party with any number of friends and then that party will be matched with other players to form a team. However, this appears to be a concept Nintendo is incapable of achieving.
The worst part is, according to Trusted Reviews, in 2018, Nintendo plans to start charging for use of the aforementioned abysmal online service. An online subscription for the Nintendo Switch will reportedly cost players $20 per year, with a one-month membership option available for $3.99 or three months for $7.99.
Whilst it’s difficult to blame Nintendo’s decision to charge users for the Switch’s online service, especially since its competitors have been doing the same for many years. The issue is, Nintendo plans to charge for an online service that is considerably substandard in comparison to options offered by its competitors. For myself personally, it’s going to be difficult justifying dropping $20 on an online service that doesn’t even let me hop into a game with a friend and I’d imagine many other Switch owners feel the same.
The Switch’s online issues aren’t just confined to the recent release of Splatoon 2 either. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which launched on the console in April, suffers similarly from a mediocre online experience. According to Crave Online, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe doesn’t have a lobby system for online matchmaking, so when you want to play with a friend, they have to attempt to join your game in progress, which is often a difficult task with games often already filled with the maximum number of players.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s online offering is as bare bones as possible, which is a shame considering it was the console’s first major online game. Nintendo could have quite easily bolstered the game’s online mode with matchmaking lobbies and dedicated ranked/unranked modes, however, instead, Nintendo has once again thrown online play in as an afterthought.
For a free service, the Switch’s online woes are frustrating but understandable. However, if Nintendo plans to charge users for that service, it’s nothing short of unacceptable.
Splatoon 2 is yet another fantastic release for the Nintendo Switch, demonstrating Nintendo’s maintained ability to create impressive original software. However, for an online multiplayer game, it’s been let down by online functionality, an area where Nintendo continues to struggle, time and time again.
[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]