Nintendo Switch Online App – What’s Next?

If you don’t play Splatoon 2 regularly you’d be forgiven for not even knowing this exists. The Nintendo Switch Online app was launched almost two years ago now and currently supports two games, with fairly comprehensive stats on Splatoon 2 and some Smash replay features that nobody uses. A large number of active online games remain completely absent, and there really hasn’t been much attempt by Nintendo to get people to use this. The biggest current draw is the ability to voice chat for people who don’t have Discord.

This is everything. The “voice chat” option expands to a select few other games such as Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Kart 8, but the only games with actual pages are Smash and Splatoon 2. To it’s credit, Splatoon 2’s app is extremely good. You can see detailed results of every battle, including some important things the game doesn’t show you like death count and points turfed. You can also order gear, view map rotations and see a wealth of personal stats. It’s so good that it just makes me wonder why every game isn’t doing this.

Super Mario Maker 2 is perhaps the biggest, most obvious candidate to be added to this service. The game itself lacks a proper friend system that should be added to this app if they aren’t going to put it in the game. More than that, it would be very useful for finding courses. In a game where visibility is severely limited by whether or not a popular youtuber plays your level, it can’t hurt to have more searching options using the tags already in the game. It would just be really nice to browse Mario courses while you’re out, bookmark ones you find interesting, then play them later. It’s something Nintendo’s already done before with the Mario Maker 1 bookmark website so… why not here? We have more technology than the Wii U days, but we’re doing less with it. They could expand it even further by showing world records on the app and your friends stats. It could all be presented by a friendly builder Toad.

Mario Kart 8 is the silent giant here. It’s the highest selling game on Switch but hasn’t really had any support since launch. To be fair, the game is mega complete and packed full of content with all the Wii U DLC now in the main game. It’s perhaps the most complete racer ever released. With a large amount of people still playing it, it still feels like a waste that there’s nothing about this game in the app. It would probably get the most mainstream use out of anything. Mario Kart TV was an ambitious feature in the Wii U game that never really went anywhere. The game’s “tournament” feature is a bit overlooked in-game, and perhaps could get more exposure in the app. People could agree on a time to play in advance with race invitations. It would also be cool to just look at the Time Trial leaderboards without booting up the game, whether it’s to see if your friends have set a new time, or glance at the global list.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze! I’ll take any reason to talk about this game. This is another game that could be in app solely for Time Trial reasons. It’s quite a competitive game in this mode, with replays saved for every single level and ranking in different modes, with different Kongs accounted for. In the game itself you have to traverse the world map and load the times one by one, and the app could make it a lot easier. You could also just have player stats with percentage completion and basic stuff. Not super important but again, why not? I’ve seen more people on my friends list pick this game up lately, but instead of loading up the game to see their times it would be a nice feature of the app.

Other games with Time Trials like Sonic Mania may as well be in the app too. I’m probably not in the top 10 in Lava Reef anymore, but would like to see how far I’ve fallen. Super Mario Odyssey is another big game that could use the app for the mini-games and time attacks. If they used the app for scores and leaderboards, the list of games they could support is endless really. Perhaps a bit too ambitious to add every game, but an option. It doesn’t have to take a competitive angle either, with support for games like Dragon Quest Builders you could just share designs and see more cool stuff.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a game that doesn’t necessarily need to use the app, but it still could have a page. You could see what houses your friends aligned with, and maybe order your friends local specialty item. The game itself does this, but it’s a bit unorganised and mainly shows global percentages with only a few spots for players in the monastery. A lot of data exists for this game that an app could access fairly easily.

Wheeee! I’m gonna take a leap of faith and predict that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will use the app next year. At the current rate of one game per year being added to this app, this probably has the best odds to be next. Now what could you do? You could see when friends are online, get updates on other towns, share patterns and designs. I’m hoping the game itself will have all these options, but you could still have data in the app like fishing encyclopedias. Instead of the old code system there could be some kind of delivery service, the same way you order Splatoon gear with the touch of a button. You could see “rotations” of K.K. Slider performances and when he’s showing up, what songs people are requesting and what’s hot. He could have his own tab like a myspace page and a K.K. blog so you don’t have to hear music news from the industry fat cats. Perhaps asking a bit much but I’m just throwing ideas around until we actually know more about the game.

The purpose of this article isn’t meant to be negative, it was just to highlight the potential of the Switch app not being used. I think it could be really good with a few changes, and it’s something they could possibly be working on? There’s a big Mario Maker update due soon that Nintendo has been quiet about. Possibly a Nintendo Direct to coincide with that. Or perhaps they’ll just go the other direction and abandon it? Could they have another social app in development for the Switch itself? I’m curious to hear what everybody else thinks of the current Nintendo Switch app and what you’d like to see added. I think perhaps the biggest change they could make is making it more accessible to third party developers. We could potentially have 20+ games in the app if the floodgates opened and people knew it existed.

One thought on “Nintendo Switch Online App – What’s Next?

  1. Well I’m much more negative on the app. For a start I deleted it because I never used it and I haven’t seen any functionality that couldn’t just be included in the damn games. Now that’s not to say the app isn’t unnecessary, you outlined several excellent features that would make it much better and the key part is accessing online game information, when you’re not in the game. They could go further like sending you push notifications to let you know when you fell off the top ten of a leaderboard, or when a friend jsut beat your high score. You should be able to manage your whole switch friends list through the app and send messages to each other like we could 12 years ago on the Wii.
    But right now, existing in the state it does, it jsut seems like such a useless appendage. A neglected afterthought that some middle manager dreamt up as part of their “mobile strategy.” Honestly, every single person in Nintendo’s online services team needs to lose their job. That sounds brutal but I don’t expect anyone would actually be affected by my proclamation because there isn’t any evidence that providing online services is anyone’s job at Nintendo.


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