Nintendo Explains Why the Switch Has No Built-in Voice Chat

I previously wrote about features the Nintendo Switch really needs to be more competitive with other platforms like the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and even Steam. One of those features is built-in voice chat, and now we’ve finally learned why the hybrid console still lacks such a critical feature.

“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,” said Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime in an interview (via Arstechnica) at Seattle’s Geekwire Summit.

The console uses a smartphone app for voice chat, and now that their paid online multiplayer service has launched, they seem to have no inclination to add voice chat to the system itself.

“Nintendo’s approach is to do things differently,” Reggie added. “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.”

The Nintendo boss was also asked if he views his rivals, specifically Xbox and PlayStation, as competition. “I don’t,” he said. Reggie elaborated a bit, noting they’re competing for all the free time people use for entertainment, saying “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.”

A key issue with Nintendo separating voice chat for the console to a separate app for smartphones is that it’s a different situation altogether, and third party developers currently have no ability to add voice chat to the mobile app. A rarity like Fortnite has native voice chat, but it remains unclear how feasible it is for developers to implement when it should be a system-level feature.

In case you missed it, you should read our previous report on the pricing, details, and features included with the paid Nintendo Switch Online service.


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