It’s time for the company to decide if they are going to be family friendly or competitive.
Recently Nintendo has been dipping their toes into the realm of competitive gaming. Starting a couple systems ago with very small steps on their biggest games, (Mario Kart, Smash Brothers) they started implementing competitive systems that overall have worked out extremely well minus a few bug issues, Nintendo does seem to be five to ten years behind on some things after all. So to say that they have some catching up to do would be an understatement. With the release of the Switch and the subsequent year of knockout titles released they seem to be more willing to bet on competitive gaming being a major part of their future going forward. Arms is primarily an online competitive game, a major far cry from the usual single player/couch co-op experiences that Nintendo is known for. However, they still have a long way to go before they catch up to the rest of the market when it comes to competitive gaming.
The Wii saw the addition of wifi and the realm of competitive gaming was opened up to everyone on the system. This meant there was a whole new set of challenges for the notoriously family-friendly gaming company to figure out. First and foremost is the toxicity that comes with online gaming. Swearing, insulting, and various other inappropriate sounds are too easy to come by on the internet and Nintendo is especially committed to protecting its players from the dangers of its other players and that is extremely hard to do. Overwatch can’t keep teammates from wishing death upon each other for picking Symmetra. The sad fact of the matter is that this mentality is omnipresent in gaming culture and until it is addressed by the entire community, no one game is going to solve the problem, because people will always find ways to be toxic on the internet.
So what do they do? Give up and try to build an iron curtain around the player to completely shut them off from the rest of the world while letting them play these online games that some require cooperation (Here’s looking at you Splatoon 2). Of course not, that answer would be silly, but it is not that far off from what they have been attempting to do. To access voice chat you have to have a smartphone, easy enough today although unnecessary considering the Switch has bluetooth. Then they have to download the Nintendo Online app and create an account. After that the person has to buy a specialized headset from Nintendo or a licensed third party distributor and pay for the extra cords that come with it. This is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary today. On any other system this would be cause for riot but on Nintendo it is given a shoulder shrug and people complain but forget about it.
Nintendo needs to finally man up and accept that they are going to have to get their hands dirty, suspend people, or even ban them, because going through the hassle of setting up voice chat is just the tip of the iceberg from loong loading times, boring waiting rooms, and some of the worst connectivity problems on the market today. Nintendo has a huge competitive problem but they are so scared of the toxic side that they’re not allowing themselves to prosper even more because they are limiting their games and their fans. Not everyone on the internet is a good person, but it shouldn’t be Nintendo’s job to put up the steel curtain on behalf of all of their players, that should be a case by case situation. Of course Nintendo should take care to make sure that they are protecting their players, but they also have to give up some ground and allow the players the space to make their mistakes. That is one of the biggest parts of the growing process for anyone, or any company.