The Nintendo Switch just got a companion app for online services.
During a Nintendo Direct event on Thursday, Nintendo announced a new app called Nintendo Switch Online. It will be available from 21 July, the same day Splatoon 2 becomes available. According to Nintendo, the app, which is for iOS and Android devices, is meant to "enhance your online experience for compatible games on the Nintendo Switch console". But it will only be compatible with Splatoon 2 at launch.
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With Nintendo Switch Online, you can voice chat with friends, invite people to online matches, create teams, and more. You'll also be able to access SplatNet2 to view online play statistics and details about game features coming down the pipeline. We're assuming this means most Switch games won't have built-in voice chat, and that they'll need the separate app to offer such functionality.
We’ve heard before that Nintendo wanted to use a separate smartphone app for online communication for the Switch, but now we know when the first version of app will be available. Keep in mind this is an early version of the app, and another version with more features will launch sometime in 2018. At that point, you'll need to pay $19.99 a year to use the app as well as access online multiplayer.
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But the fee will also let you browse and play classic Nintendo games on the Switch. Right now, Nintendo Switch Online for iOS will let you invite friends with Splatoon 2 to private battles, league battles, and Splatfest battles, but eventually, it will expand to other games as Nintendo finishes developing its Nintendo Switch Online service.