First Voice Chat Headset for Nintendo Switch Requires Smartphone, Dongle

You’d think the question of how to connect headsets to game consoles would be a settled issue by now, given that voice chat has been a standard feature of Xbox and PlayStation games for years. Nintendo, however, has never supported such options in the same way. Prior to the Switch, voice chat was implemented on a per-game feature in selected titles. Earlier this year, Nintendo announced that it would use a smartphone app for many of its basic matchmaking and lobby functions, as well as for handling voice chat capabilities. The third-party peripheral manufacturer Hori has released a diagram showing how its new, Splatoon 2-themed headset will work, and the diagram isn’t exactly simple.

HeadsetDiagram

Hori is clearly trying to inject some custom design into the process — the squid-shaped splitter echoes some of Splatoon’s themes — but there’s no denying how bass-ackwards this entire setup is. You’ve got a splitter for a smartphone and the Switch (Buy now on Amazon), with a third cable for the headset. To be clear, you don’t have to have the headset, unless you want to be able to hear your teammates and the game audio at the same time. But these aren’t compromises Sony and Microsoft ask players to make.

The strangest thing about Nintendo’s entire approach to voice chat and matchmaking on the Switch is that the company’s system seems to preclude using its hardware in certain modes. For example, there are no headphone jacks on the Joy-Con grip or the Pro controller, only on the Switch itself. The Switch can’t use Bluetooth headsets, possibly because the Joy-Con controllers connect via that technology and attempting to simultaneously support audio could interfere with the device. But this appears to mean you can’t simultaneously dock the Switch, listen to a game, and use voice chat unless you want to use a single earbud in one ear and let the TV handle game audio.

Do-able? Certainly. But it’s a bit hackneyed by 2007 standards, much less 2017. And Nintendo has yet to offer any clues as to how it might improve the situation, telling Forbes it had no comment as of this time.

The Japanese company has announced that its paid online gaming service, originally expected to debut in the fall of 2017, has been pushed to 2018 with no word on its eventual launch date. The company’s online service will cost just $ 20 per year, well below the Sony or Microsoft equivalents, but features and capabilities are still under development. Nintendo has stated, however, that subscribers will have access to a library of classic Nintendo games for as long as they subscribe, though which titles (and how many) has not been revealed.

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