With Switch, Nintendo made the curious decision to integrate voice chat with a smartphone app, rather than building the functionality into the system itself, as is the case with competing consoles. Now, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has explained why the company offloaded voice chat services onto smartphones.
“We believe the easiest way for you to connect and have a peer-to-peer experience with voice chat is with your mobile phone,” Fils-Aime said during the Geekwire Summit, as reported by Ars Technica. “It’s always there, it’s always with you.”
Currently, to talk to others in most of Nintendo’s major multiplayer experiences you’re required to use the Nintendo Switch Online app on iOS or Android to create a party and chat. This method has proven to be divisive, given that most people are used to using one piece of hardware for both their gaming and social needs.
The exec noted that Nintendo has a history of adopting different strategies that it believes are appropriate for its own platforms and audience, instead of homogenizing with competitors. “Nintendo’s approach is to do things differently,” he said. “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.”
On the subject of PlayStation and Xbox, Fils-Aime was asked if he sees them as competitors and replied, “I don’t,” adding that he believes Nintendo is instead competing simply for “entertainment time.”
He continued: “That’s what I compete for, minute by minute. That time you spend surfing the web, watching a movie, watching a telecast of a conference: that’s all entertainment time we’re competing for. My competitive set is much bigger than my direct competitors in Sony and Microsoft. I compete for time. When I do that, I have to be creative and innovative in order to win that battle.”
Nintendo Switch Online, the first ever paid online service from the company, is now available. Those that sign up for a membership are given access to online play, cloud saves, and a growing selection of NES classics, which have been updated to enable online multiplayer. However, the service comes with some caveats, most notably that Cloud saves aren’t available for all games, and NES online games are only playable offline for a week before requiring a check-in with the online service. For more information on the Switch Online service, check out our wrap-up of everything we know.