While the gaming internet raves about how sensational the new Zelda game is, Nintendo’s just-deployed day one update for the Switch — out March 3 — exposes a darker truth about the new console. Friend codes are back.
Nintendo’s 12-digit codes — which are 14 characters on the Switch, with an “SW” at the front — are used to sync up with friends online. So where services like PlayStation Network, Steam and Xbox Live employ user-selected nicknames, Nintendo uses a jumble of numbers.
Nintendo Friend Codes have been the butt of many jokes, and for good reason. If someone wants to find me on PlayStation Network or Twitter, I can just say “I’m geminibros.” If they want to connect on Xbox Live, I tell them “I’m MrAdamRosenberg.”
For Nintendo? “Oh yeah, sure. Let me just go get it.” At which point I turn on my hardware, squint at the screen, and proceed to rattle off a series of numbers, probably repeating a few as my friend struggles to keep up. Not the most seamless process.
The return of Friend Codes is especially baffling given Nintendo’s own comments on the subject. As recently as January, Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime told CNET at the start of the year that they wouldn’t be returning.
“There are no Friend Codes within what we’re doing,” he said.
Fortunately, that’s not the only way to connect with your friends on a Switch. Linking the console to your Nintendo Network account pushes friend suggestions your way based on whom you’ve interacted with in Miitomo and Super Mario Run.
That same feature — of diving through your past communications and suggesting friends based on that — will also be coming to social networking services that link with Switch. We already know that Switch profiles can be linked with Facebook and Twitter, though they won’t link to the, “suggested friends” feature until a later date, per an email from Nintendo.
There are other options as well. Down the road, Switch users will be able to connect using their Nintendo Network IDs — the Nintendo equivalent of a PSN ID or Xbox Gamertag. And at launch, you’ll be able to add friends if they’re on the same local network that you are or if you’ve played with them recently.
The day one Switch update also activates the console’s microSD port for expandable storage and delivers downloadable game purchasing via the freshly launched eShop.