Nintendo’s history with online services on its game consoles is, to put it nicely, quite poor.
Game purchases never carry forward, nor do usernames and friend lists — each subsequent console’s service feels like Nintendo started from scratch. And in the case of Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch, it outright launched without an online service.
Outside of a digital storefront (the “eShop”) and a rudimentary friends list, none of the rich online features that people expect in modern game consoles are built into the Switch. You can’t even watch Netflix on it, let alone browse the web or play a game in a party chat with friends.
Nintendo’s taking steps towards a legitimate, paid online service in 2018 with the launch of “Nintendo Switch Online.” You’ll even get free, classic games every month as part of the membership. The service is getting a test run starting with “Splatoon 2” on July 21, and Nintendo just showed off what it’ll look like for the first time. Let’s dive in!
Rather than building the online service into the Switch, Nintendo’s taking a different approach: a smartphone app that acts as liaison.
The app, seen here with “Splatoon 2,” makes using the Switch online much more robust. Party chat, for example, is a primary component. You can even invite people you’ve played with, and folks from services like Facebook and Twitter.