Nintendo have launched their official Nintendo Switch Online App, a smartphone app that brings online features and voice chat to the Switch though your mobile.
The brand new app launches today on iOS and Android, but it won’t actually be any use to you until we get some games that support it. The first of these will be Splatoon 2, which is released on Friday 21st July, and many more games are set to make use of the app’s networking functions going forward.
The app itself is free to download and the service is completely free for the rest of the year, with Nintendo looking to charge an annual subscription charge of $19.99 from 2018. That fee includes access to online multiplayer, voice chat and free classic Nintendo games, with a model similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.
We’ll know more about how well the app works with the launch of Splatoon 2 on Friday, but already there are some concerns. The most significant drawback is the revelation that the app will only function if it is open, meaning voice chat and other functions will stop completely if the phone is locked or if you need to access other apps. There is also the issue of headset use, whereby traditionally online multiplayer gamers would expect to receive both gameplay and chat audio through their headset. The reality with Nintendo is currently flawed, without any clear way to compound audio from your mobile and Switch console without looking to third party dongles.
If you’re curious about the new features, the new app is available to download now and there will be plenty of opportunity to test it with Splatoon 2 released at the end of the week.