Nintendo Switch's Voice Chat Compromise

by David Loft posted June 9th 2017

File Under Gaming

I wasn't planning on writing about this, but I felt like I had to as no one has mentioned this and it has bothered me. And not by the Video Chat headset and the dongle that goes with it, but the reaction from the community.

First, this particular product is the side effect of Nintendo's decision to put voice chat on the phone instead of the Switch. They are doing this most likely for two reasons, limit resources used on the Switch and to keep kids out of hostile voice chat.

But what is bothering me is that everyone is acting like this is required. It is not. It isn't required if you have the game sound coming from the TV speakers or system speakers. In this case (the majority of which where I would actually be gaming online and want voice chat) I would have one wire from my headphones to my phone in my pocket just for voice. Or in the case of a Bluetooth headset, no wires would be needed.

This product is a solution for a particular scenario.

Another amusing complaint I've heard is about all the wires and dongles needed to voice chat when on the go. Really? You plan to take play online games and use voice chat while on break at work, or while riding the bus. I highly doubt that.

This product is a solution for a particular scenario. Where you want the game sound and voice chat to both come through the headphones. Only in this scenario is this necessary. And while it certainly would have been nice if the audio from the game could be routed to the phone wirelessly and than the app could mix the two. That would inevitably introduce audio latency.

The Switch is all about compromise.

For me I'll likely rarely use voice chat, and when I do, I will be OK with just running the game audio on my TV and a headset just for voice chat. Ideally it would have been nicer to have voice chat built into the Switch, and it would have been great if the Pro Controller and Joy-Con Grip had the headphone jack to facilitate that. Nintendo also could have had the ability to enable or disable voice chat with the Parental Control app. But it is not happening, and its honestly not that big of a deal.

The Switch is all about compromise. Compromise in comfort, compromise in performance, compromise in the D-Pad, compromise in third party support. And yet people keep buying it, playing it and loving it. Everything is done well enough and its versatility is strong enough that we forgo its other compromises. Voice chat is just one more compromise, and one that's not enough of a compromise to keep me from enjoying the system.

Well there we have it. If you liked what I had to say or thought I was wrong feel free to leave a comment. This is Letters From Dave signing out.


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