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Will the Switch Smartphone App Allow Tethering for Online Multiplayer?

The Switch launches in less than a week.  With mere days before Nintendo’s hybrid console is out in the wild, we are still asking ourselves many questions.

Upon looking at the Nintendo Switch specifications over at Nintendo of America’s home page, I noticed something kind of interesting.  If you look closely, Nintendo states that networking on the Switch “can be connected to the internet via a wireless (IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 4.1.”

It’s also worth noting the Switch can be connected using a wired LAN adapter, just like the Wii U could.

The stuff about the Bluetooth connectivity is interesting, though.  Nintendo has not given us a full breakdown of the Switch’s online services yet.  What we do know is that there will be a free trial period for online matchmaking while Nintendo prepares to launch their full paid service at some point in the fall.

There has also been talks about Nintendo’s smart device app being implemented for voice connectivity.  Whether or not voice will be limited to the smart phone app remains to be seen.

This bit about the Bluetooth does trigger a few questions though.  Is Nintendo going to allow players to connect their Switch consoles to their smartphones for mobile, online connectivity via Bluetooth through their mobile app?  If so, will this allow Nintendo to potentially bypass restrictions some wireless subscribers have on their accounts?

Back in January, Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime spoke to Nintendo Everything about Nintendo’s online efforts with the Switch. He stated:

“The bigger vision is that we are going to provide an overall online service, subscription-based, that not only will capture the multiplayer opportunity, but also the voice chat capability that we’re going to provide through a global app. We think that that’s just as important as access to Virtual Console content.

“The reason for that is, it continues to reinforce our commitment to online, and do so in a way that will enable the consumer to enjoy their Nintendo Switch and to still be able to play those connected experiences—like Splatoon, like Kart, like fill in the blank—while they’re on the go. Instead of having some sort of bulky gamer headset, you’ll be able to do it right off your smartphone, put in your earbuds that you use for your standard mobile device. We think that’s a pretty sweet solution. That’s part of the overall opportunity that we see in a subscription service.”

If the app does pan out to allow the ability for players to connect to their smartphones for online connectivity, this could be a very elegant solution for those who would otherwise have difficulty setting up a mobile hotspot on their devices.  It appears that a lot of decisions Nintendo has made with the Switch have been carefully calculated for the ease of use.  This could allow gamers to easily stay connected, even when they’re away from home.

We have reached out to Nintendo for comment and will update this post once we hear back.

About Jeremy Reilly

A devout Nintendo fan, Jeremy is driven by engaging in enlightening and intelligent conversations regarding video games. To keep up with his antics, such as seeing mountains of complaints directed at TWC, follow him @Friktion321 on Twitter.