Nintendo made the announcement Tuesday morning during its E3 2018 Nintendo Direct and Epic Games launched Fortnite just a matter of hours later. And in-between announcement and launch, Epic was also able to confirm a lot of very important information regarding multiplayer on a platform that’s only just beginning to implement features other consoles have been doing for years. Things like voice chat on Nintendo Switch are still somewhat mysterious, but luckily Fortnite makes it very simple.
According to Epic Games, Fortnite is bringing its own built-in voice chat to the Nintendo Switch. What that means is instead of using the Nintendo Switch’s complicated voice chat system, which requires a cell phone running the Nintendo Switch Online App, players can run voice chat through their own mic and the Nintendo Switch. It will still require a headset or microphone that can plug into the Nintendo Switch’s headphone jack, but at least it cuts out the cell phone and app.
Epic Games says that Fortnite‘s voice chat is not yet available on Nintendo Switch, but that it plans to turn on the service on Thursday.
Voice chat on Nintendo Switch is a complicated issue that a lot of users probably don’t understand or have time to make sense of. The issue is that Nintendo wants to provide voice chat for all users across every game, like how PlayStation and Xbox have party chat, but the Nintendo Switch hardware is already limited in performance. There’s just no way to run on-console voice chat at the same time as running most Nintendo Switch games.
Nintendo’s solution was off-boarding voice chat (and sometimes matchmaking too) to different hardware. A user’s cell-phone running the Nintendo Switch Online App does all the work, completely independent of what’s being run on the Nintendo Switch if necessary.
Fortnite proves that savvy Nintendo Switch developers that are focused on online multiplayer can provide their own solution. Epic has programmed Fornite on Switch to preserve the hardware power necessary for voice chat, so it can run at the same time as the game without impacting performance. Hopefully, it’s the first example of many in the future.
Of course, this may only be Fortnite‘s solution because the Nintendo Switch Online App doesn’t launch until July. Maybe it will convert to that upon release.
Fortnite is free-to-play and available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One, and mobile devices.