Nintendo Switch Online app coming to Apple's iPhone with 'Splatoon 2' on July 21
Rather than handling voice chat native on the Nintendo Switch game console, players will need to install a separate app on iOS or Android to chat with friends while playing team-based shooter "Splatoon 2."
As part of a Nintendo Direct announcement on Thursday, the Japanese game maker revealed that an app called "Nintendo Switch Online" will be available for Apple's iPhone on Friday, July 21, the same day that "Splatoon 2" releases.
Inside the Nintendo app will be SplatNet 2, which will allow players to review previous matches and statistics, keep track of upcoming in-game events, and purchase in-game gear. Nintendo Switch Online will also be used for organizing private matches, making teams, and communicating with other players via voice chat.
Nintendo's app will take advantage of push notification abilities, letting users know when their friends are online and giving them the ability to quickly jump into a game.
Nintendo's online services will be free at launch, but the company plans to start charging $20 per year for the capabilities with its Switch console in 2018.
Using smartphones for voice chat in online games is an uncharacteristic approach — Â traditionally, game consoles have natively handled matchmaking and communication natively on the platform. But Nintendo has been slow to embrace online services, partially out of safety concerns for younger players with whom titles like Mario, Pokemon, and Animal Crossing are popular.
Nintendo also plans to sell an an audio combining accessory that will allow audio input from both an iPhone and the Switch console into the same headset, so users can hear voice communications and gameplay simultaneously.
Thursday's announcement made no mention as to whether the new Nintendo Switch Online app for iPhone will include promised parental control capabilities, or whether that is coming in a separate app. A representative for Nintendo told AppleInsider when the Switch launched in March that remote parental controls will be added in a future update.
Though it still sells its own hardware, Nintendo began dabbling in competing mobile platforms last year, with the iOS-exclusive debut of Super Mario Run proving to be a smash success.