Nintendo broadcasted its Splatoon 2 Direct today where the company detailed many new features for the game which would be available at launch. One of the most awaited announcements was for the Nintendo Switch Online App for iOS and Android which would also be launching with Splatoon 2 on 21st July. After a long wait, we finally know the features that the app will provide to gamers.The Nintendo Switch Online App will provide voice chat, multiplayer gaming invites for Private Battles, League Battles, and Splatfest Battles, invite notifications, online lobby and much more. The app will also let Splatoon 2 players connect to SplatNet 2 to view online playing stats, check out weapons and gear, view detailed results for last 50 battles, check upcoming stages and much more. A SplatNet shop will also let users acquire gear from the app and send it to an in-game store.
The app will let users send invites via social networks or to Nintendo Switch friends to play with them. Friends would also need to have the app installed on their iOS or Android smartphone.
At launch, the only game that will support the Switch Online App will be Splatoon 2. It’s unclear if and when third party developers will be able to add support for their games to the app. The Nintendo Switch Online service is also going to be free until 2018 so users can access the app free-of-charge. The service will cost $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year from 2018 onwards.
There is a lot of criticism going around on why Nintendo chose to release an app for voice chat, instead of building this functionality in Switch. To play online, users would have to make sure that their phone is also sufficiently charged and not only their Switch console. One has to winder if Switch users need to voice chat and plugin their headphones to their smartphones, how would they listen to the game audio? One way to look at this is that no matter you use your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, Docked mode or tabletop mode, your smartphone is always with you.
So far, Nintendo Switch has not done much wrong despite being a low-powered console compared to competitors. It will be interesting to see how this Online app strategy pays off once more games are support it.
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