Now that the Switch has game-sharing, will more features come?

Nintendo recently dropped a new system update for the Switch, bringing the system firmware up to version 6.0. This update included the added functionality of the new Switch Online service, which was expected. However, Nintendo also slipped in a feature that it kept a total secret: digital game-sharing. This was an unexpected but pleasant surprise to just about everyone. It also made me wonder: Does this mean Nintendo really is actively listening to the community?

Like cloud saves, game-sharing has been another feature that a few folks were anticipating. While Nintendo made the greedy move of locking cloud saves behind the paywall of Switch Online, digital game-sharing is now a system-level feature. That is, anyone can make use of it quite easily. All you have to do is add your account to a friend/family member’s Switch (and vice versa), and then voila—”free” extra games for everyone. There are a few caveats: You must keep your system connected to the Internet at all times to access the shared games, and as soon as the main console starts playing, the non-primary systems are then booted off. Thus, the Switch’s game-sharing feature is not as clear-cut as in other platforms (just like its cloud-save solution). Even so, the point is that it’s now here. Nintendo actually did something.

The reason why this is so noteworthy is that Nintendo has garnered the reputation for seemingly being tone-deaf towards everyone outside of the company’s main walls. Admittedly, things have gotten better in recent years. For example,  developers both big and small have stated that Nintendo has made the game creation on Switch a lot more straightforward than on past systems. Nintendo has also gotten better at communication with its fans and the general public, now using social media more actively and deploying (fairly) regular Nintendo Direct presentations. The improved communication can also be seen with the companies much better ad campaign for the Switch over what was seen with the Wii U (and even 3DS).  That said, the company clearly hasn’t lost its affinity for making moves out of complete left field. Yet, it would be nice if more still were done.

Switch Online has been lambasted by the majority of the Nintendo community since launch due to its basic functionality and clunky approach to things like cloud saves and voice chat. I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, but ultimately, it looks like the naysayers were right. Even so, this surprise move from Nintendo to add digital game-sharing has ignited just the tiniest spark of hope in me that the company can be trusted with the idea of making things better. While I still think it’s sad that Nintendo has yet to add seemingly basic functionality like a better online network service, and other features like themes and local save data backups, this random move indicates that the Switch’s operating system development train is indeed moving—just very slowly. And that’s the thing: You don’t have forever, Nintendo.

Nintendo is clearly making movements, but more needs to be done—and quickly at that.

At this point, the Switch is a year-and-a-half old. Thus, it’s still a relatively young system, but it’s also not really the newborn that it was last year. That is to say, now is a valid time for expectations from the community (both fans and developers) to be in place. The “just give Nintendo more time” excuse is losing steam rather quickly. Put it this way—by next March, the Switch will be coming close to hitting its middle-age era. At the same time, PS4 and Xbox One will be heading into the final stretch of their lives as it’s seeming increasing more likely their successors should come around by at least 2020.

It currently remains unclear if Nintendo will launch a new system around the same time to compete against those next-gen consoles, or if an upgraded Switch will be rolled out instead to act as a bandage solution of course. But in any case, proving that it can handle building a truly modern OS will instill a real sense of trust. For now, though, it seems that Nintendo is still stuck in its old way of moving one step forward and five steps back.

Still, despite Nintendo’s missteps, it’s a secret to nobody that the Switch has been doing very well. Its momentum is likely to keep up as long as the Big N keeps playing its cards right. However, the company has to shake the reputation of its being incompetent. Nintendo is modernizing, but in a lot of ways, it’s as if it’s just coming to realize that we’re all in the 21st century. This generation is already in Sony’s hands, so Nintendo needs to spend the remainder building itself up to hit the ground running in the next.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.