Twitch Nintendo Switch First Impressions: Why Is Netflix Still MIA?

Twitch made a surprise appearance on the Nintendo Switch eShop this week, becoming one of the few media apps available on the platform. The addition of Twitch continues this slow, seemingly random drip release of media apps for the Switch that we've seen since launch. Unfortunately, there are a large number of media apps that could be on the Switch but aren't – a fact that's brought back to the forefront whenever a new media app makes its way to the eShop.

Twitch is the latest member of an exclusive Switch club

Twitch is enjoying some rarified air as a Nintendo Switch app. There's only one major paid streaming service on the Switch, and that's Hulu, which was released for the Switch way back in November 2017 – only about seven months after the Switch itself launched. It was soon joined by YouTube and later Pokemon TV, but those were the only streaming apps available on Switch until Twitch arrived this week.

The lack of entertainment apps on the Switch is a head-scratcher for sure. Nintendo platforms in the past have been home to many different streaming apps, chief among them Netflix. Netflix was even available for the 3DS, a handheld console with a low-resolution screen, making its absence on the Switch even more bizarre.

At this point, we're coming up on the Switch's fifth anniversary, which probably means that we're never going to see Netflix and others like Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ at this point. Still, Twitch's surprise release proves that anything is possible even late in the game, so maybe there is hope after all.

How does the Twitch app for Switch work?

As far as the app itself is concerned, it seems to work rather well, though there's some limited functionality. For example, while getting logged into your Twitch account is easy enough – it requires either scanning a QR code with your mobile device or heading to Twitch's activation site and entering a code – you can only watch livestreams in the Switch app.

That means you can't participate in chat using the Switch. In fact, I've found no way to even show chat as I'm watching the livestream. The only place where chat appears is on the preview page for each stream, where you're invited to join chat on your mobile device by scanning another QR code.

Assuming you do that, the stream opens on your device in chat-only mode, so you'll be watching and listening to the stream on the Switch and chatting with your phone. It certainly isn't the most elegant solution to participating in chat, but then again, chatting on Switch would likely make for a clunky experience anyway.

All in all, the Twitch app on Switch works well enough, but it probably isn't going to be my primary device for watching livestreams. For that, I'll stick to my desktop or phone, but I'll keep the Twitch app installed on the Switch for those rare scenarios where it comes in handy. Twitch is available now on the Switch eShop as a free download.