Splatoon 2 release could be ruined by Nintendo's online ineptitude

After months of waiting, today is the day that Splatoon 2 arrives. Through numerous test fire events, Switch-owning gamers should already have a good idea if this game is for them, and for everyone who's on the fence, the stellar reviews for the game may push them to take the plunge. It should be an exciting day for Switch owners, but instead there's something of a black cloud hanging over Splatoon 2's launch: Nintendo's online ineptitude.

The launch of Splatoon 2 is also accompanied by the beta launch (if that's the right term for it) of Nintendo Switch's online services. What we're essentially seeing launch today is a work in progress. With Nintendo choosing to push back the launch of Switch's online system until 2018, this is definitely an early version of the app released to appease those who want voice communication while playing Splatoon 2 with friends.

That's exactly the problem with it, too: Nintendo seems to be launching this app merely so it can check a box, and not because it actually cares about ease of use. To say that Nintendo doesn't care at all may be a little too unfair – it could be that Nintendo has every intention of making this app better by the time it begins charging players to use it in 2018, but right now, it's clear that wasn't a priority.

For instance, voice chat through the app requires that your device remains unlocked and that app remains open. That means, if you're using it on your phone, no opening your web browser or typing up a text message. No checking Facebook or Reddit in between matches, and no turning your display off to save on battery life. Launching this app without letting it run in the background feels like a massive oversight.

In its current form, the app also doesn't let you create a group chat with friends. You'll need to enter Splatoon 2's online lobby before you'll be able to create a voice chat with your friends through the app. This is a disappointment because group chat has been a long running feature of Xbox Live and PSN, and many players use it to just chat with their friends as they play different games.

To make matters worse, Nintendo has had plenty of time to figure all of this out, which almost makes this launch insulting. We've known for the better part of a year that the Nintendo Switch would use a mobile app as the basis of its online service, which leads me to believe that Nintendo itself has known it wanted to go in this direction for a year or more. Why, then, is this app launching without basic features you'd expect from any messaging or VoIP app?

At this point, it really feels like Nintendo either has no idea what to do when it comes to online systems or it just doesn't care enough to put in the work required to make a good service. Whatever the reason, Nintendo's handling of the Switch's online system threatens to tarnish the launch of Splatoon 2, and that's truly sad. At this point, in fact, Switch players would be better served using an app like Skype or Discord as they play online, and Nintendo really shouldn't be okay with that.