As a Nintendo fan, I’m sure you wondered how can a company that pays so much attention to its fantastic games, have such a poor online system? This confused me so I researched the internet trying to find the answer.
Nintendo Online is bad as Nintendo treats its single-player experience as a priority and multiplayer as an afterthought. Also, Nintendo charges $20 for a subpar service compared to PS4/Xbox One, removed the virtual console, and does not have any dedicated servers.
I will discuss everything in detail but it is interesting to understand how exactly can a company that creates some of the best video games in gaming have such an awful online service?
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Multiplayer For Nintendo Is Second To Single-Player
One argument is Nintendo prides itself so much on it’s fantastic singleplayer AAA exclusives like Zelda & Mario, it does not have the resources to create an enjoyable multiplayer experience.
This is the argument proposed by the gaming YouTuber Escapist and you can see his video below however, I do not agree with his argument.
He argues that as Nintendo has 30 years of rich gaming history it wants to protect its image so certain games like Mario Maker 2 you could not actually match with friends and could only can play with randoms.
This is a quote from Nintendo
As the game is now, you cannot create friend lobbies online. You can only play online with randoms.Nintendo
However, does this make sense? Not at all at Nintendo has recently updated Super Mario Maker 2 to include friend matchmaking. Nintendo admitting their mistake showcases Nintendos gross incompetence. Why wasn’t this included in the vanilla game?
I believe Nintendo not only does not care about online but they are incompetent. Nintendo online services are worse than the PS3/Xbox 360 online services which say it all. Nowhere is this shown more than the ability to play with your friends instead of randoms was a patch and not included in the vanilla game!
Nintendo Online ‘Voice Chat” Is Awful
Nintendo online requires you to download an app onto your telephone to communicate with your friends whether via voice chat or text messages. Contrastingly even the Xbox 360 which is 14 years old had voice party chat built into the system! Worst yet you cannot even invite your friends to your game! I have no idea why the Switch does not have a similar party system to Playstation or Xbox it begs belief.
This is further shown by Fortnite on the Switch having built-in voice chat functionality and allows you to invite your friends to a session if they’re playing Fortnite.
Discord is a third party communication app that is used by gamers, the CEO of the company Jason Citron revealed by Nintendo Life revealed he is a big fan of the console and is keen to start working on a Discord Switch application
I have thought about the Switch. I have spent many hundreds of hours of my life on that little screen. If Nintendo wants us to power their voice chat, we’d be happy to talk.Jason Citron Discord CEO
So whilst a Discord app on the Switch COULD happen I don’t believe it will. This highlights Nintendos incompetence even more. As although voice chat allows you to call random players in certain games like Super Mario Kart 8 in others the feature is missing altogether.
The bigger question if the CEO of Discord is quoted in an interview saying he would work with Nintendo why wouldn’t the company try it’s best in pushing a Discord app from the Switch? Having voice chat would DRASTICALLY improve the switches online experience and every Switch owner would greatly appreciate it.
Instead, Nintendo chooses to persist in a smartphone app that is as ridiculous as it is convoluted and highlights what a backwards stance the company takes towards something that Microsoft & Sony have offered for more than 14 years.
Nintendo Online Servers Are Awful
In the days of the Wii & Wii U, you could complain about the terrible server connection but at least it was free, now your paying $20 annually for a terrible matchmaking experience, this is not good.
The majority of Switch games have peer-to-peer servers instead of dedicated servers(check out the difference here) but basically with peer to peer the internet connection is reliant on others connection to function and dedicated servers don’t.
If someone has poor connection this ruins it for EVERYONE even if your connection is very good. I remember playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate and oftentimes I was disconnected before I found a match or when I was matched the lag was so bad it was unplayable.
This improved a lot when I purchased an ethernet connection for my Switch which you can buy here. Honestly, it is essential to playing games online due to Nintendos servers. Dedicated servers should be mandatory in and only a few Switch games support them.
Third-party games with dedicated servers work fantastic for the Switch such as Rocket League & Fortnite which is why it is utterly baffling why Nintendo doesn’t change all its servers into dedicated servers. Splatoon 2 the biggest online Switch game does not have dedicated servers and it suffers considerable, We will return to Splatoon 2 as Nintendo’s treatment of it perfectly showcase all its failings as a company.
Nintendo Online Cloud Saves Are Implemented Terribly
Cloud saving is when your game progress is saved onto a cloud system and not directly into your console. This is helpful because if your console is lost or stolen you wouldn’t want those 100+ hours of Breath Of The Wild to disappear would you? The issue is again not with the specific online features but rather how Nintendo implements them.
Firstly, cloud saves ludicrously are not for every game like Xbox & PS4 and even games that desperately need it like Splatoon 2 don’t have it on the grounds of unfair advantage with multiplayer. Nintendo said the following.
This explanation that we expect from Nintendo makes no sense as many other games such as Fornite and Apex Legends do not have any issues with rankings and yet have cloud saves. Paying the subscription isn’t the issue but Nintendo refuses to allow you to transfer your cloud saves into an external hard drive as PS4 does.
Earlier Nintendo cloud saves were removed once your online subscription was stopped! However, fortunately, Nintendo has changed their mind and instead “Nintendo will allow users who resubscribe within 180 days to access their previous Save Data Cloud backups,
This is an improvement from Nintendo and suggests a brighter future where Nintendo listens to its customers, as is the same as Sony with keeping your saves for 6 months whilst Microsoft keeps your saves forever.
Nintendo Has No Virtual Console
Nintendo takes a hardline stance against piracy and ROMs being used to emulate its products, while Nintendos last three gaming consoles the Wii, Wii U and 3DS had a virtual console the Switch does not. Nintendo has gone backwards not abusing gaming greatest back catalogue that people would gladly pay money for.
People would love to play classic games like Super Mario 64 Ocarina Of Time or Pokemon on the Switch and take it wherever they want to go. The only way to play games would be still owning the console and having a game copy and somehow making the console work on a modern TV/pirating or buying expensive second-hand games on eBay.
Nintendo could very easily release all their classics from the GameCube and beyond for $5-$15 in an eShop and I can guarantee they would make a LOT of money. However, perhaps there isn’t as much financial incentive and Nintendo knows people would pay $60 for a Switch port of Nintendo classics like the new Links Awakening remaster on the switch(get it from Amazon here)
I’ve written about this here but perhaps it’s due to Nintendo Disney vault mentality. If they handpick the classic releases instead of everyone having access to everything with the virtual console.
Whilst Nintendo Online does offer free SNES & NES games with updated features like multiplayer and cloud saves the games are somewhat lacking and missing key releases.
The issue is whilst some of these games are fantastic they mostly apply to an older demographic, I’m 24 and my first Nintendo consoles were the Game Boy Advance & the Game Cube. So where’s my Pokemon Ruby/Saphire Super Smash Bros Melee/Star Fox Adventures/Pokemon Coliseum?
Also, you can only play SNES & NES offline for up to a week, if you do not connect to Nintendo Switch Online in that timeframe you cannot play those games online. This is silly from Nintendo especially considering the Switch is portable.
The free 2-3 Nintendo online games do not appeal to me and frankly, it is silly for Nintendo to ignore the fantastic gaming line up that the GameCube had. All those games are very difficult to play now aside from buying used or using emulators so Nintendo is losing a lot of money not having a virtual console but the online service would be WAY better if it started to include GameCube classics.
Nintendo Online game collection is improving over time with SNES recently being introduced. Who knows perhaps Nintendo 64 will be introduced with Gamecube afterwards. The online game service will improve overtime but it has a long way to go to even fathom to compete with services like Playstation Now & Xbox Game Pass
Nintendo Online Cheap Excuse Only Goes So Far
You might argue but Nintendo Online is 1/3rd of the price as it’s competitors Playstation & Microsoft so it makes sense how poor the service is, this is correct somewhat but fails in other aspects.
Nintendo Online was free like the Wii/Wii U days before it became a paid subscription in 2018 just like it’s competitors Playstation & Xbox. The issue is with the current state now is more or less the same as when it was a free service years ago with some minor alterations.
How can this be?
Nintendo has around 10 million users so even if half of them paid the standard $20 subscription that’s $20000000! That is a ludicrous amount of money for Nintendo not to have invested at least some of it back into the online infrastructure to be noticeable and thus far they haven’t.
AAA Nintendo exclusives like Splatoon 2 still lack basic online functionality that you pay to use such as Cloud saves; games like Super Smash Bros Ultimate still suffer unplayable lag that destroys the online experience altogether.
Exactly why are Nintendos own servers so poor? Third-party titles like Fortnite & Rocket League work perfectly with dedicated servers and it is unthinkable why Nintendo has not made dedicated servers across all it’s multiplayer experiences as it would solve a lot of issues players have with the company.
YouTubers such as InfernoPlus have even made bootleg Nintendo games that run perfectly fine! You can see it in action with the video below, so why can’t Nintendo do the same with all those bags of your cash?
Whilst both Playstation & Microsoft online subscriptions are three times the cost at $59.99 they easily are three times the value. Microsofts “Games With Gold” and PS+ offer monthly free releases some of which are fantastic AAA exclusives which the Switches free decades-old SNES & NES games cannot compete with.
Sony & Microsoft also offer social media like game community hubs which the Switch lacks. Xbox live allows exchanging voice and text messages with your friend lists, party chat for friends and even video chat using Skype or Connect, PS4 has all these features except video chat.
Each consoles hub gives specific community hubs for each game allowing players to easily uploaded videos and pictures for they’re favourite games and even in specific circumstances can register for online competitors utilising the service.
And then you have Nintendo Online where you need to download an application on your phone to have voice chat in games when the console has a built-in Microphone port! In terms of a gaming hub, Nintendo is so far behind it is beyond comparison. Xbox 360 & PS3 have far superior online experiences and they are 14-year-old systems which say it all.
Why Is Nintendo Online So Bad Conclusion
Ultimately would I say Nintendo online is worth it? I go into detail here but if you want to play online and have an interest in the “free” SNES/NES classics I would still say yes.
This does not excuse Nintendo of any of the blame of the failures of the service such as not having dedicated servers, poor cloud saves to support, a lack of voice chat and worst of all not even a basic game invitation service is ridiculous in this modern age.
Nintendo have to fix up and look at online gaming with some competence as they are frankly failing right now, yes Nintendo online is bad but what’s sad is how much BETTER it could be!
It wouldn’t be too difficult to work with Discord which would fix the voice chat problem, improve the cloud save support, implement full dedicated servers and introduce a virtual console. Especially with the megabucks, Nintendo gets off your subscription every year.
Nevertheless, as I wrote in this article about why the Switch still doesn’t have Netflix Nintendo is a unique company that succeeds despite a lot of its business practices being completely insane from an outside perfective.
Don’t expect any of the aforementioned improvements to be made anytime soon if ever, and I fully expect the Nintendo Switch 2 to be released in 2023 without voice chat functionality and still no option to invite your friends to a gaming session complete with friend codes, and sadly you should expect the same 🙁
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