In what is possibly the worst news Nintendo fans could have gotten short The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild not being a great game, it turns out the Nintendo Switch uses Friend Codes.
GameSpot is reporting that the Switch’s mandatory day one patch adds the much-maligned Friend Code system “as the main method to add friends” to console owners’ accounts. The good news is that it’s also apparently possible to add friends by reviewing a list of players you recently encountered online in games, by searching for local friends, and by linking your account to your Miitomo or Super Mario Run accounts.
Those options notwithstanding, GameSpot reports that Friend Codes are the main way to expand your Nintendo Switch friends list. It’s an unexpected move from Nintendo, which has been pilloried for years over its insistence on using the 12-digit numerical codes rather than user names for its online gaming interactions.
Though Nintendo rolled the primitive and frustrating Friend Codes system back out again for mobile game Fire Emblem: Heroes just last month, the company said earlier this year that it was not using Friend Codes for the Switch.
“There are no Friend Codes in what we’re doing,” NOA President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said of the company’s new console as recently as January. However, he also noted that player connectivity would vary by game.
The move also feels odd given Nintendo’s announcement just weeks ago that it was rolling out a new account system, known as Account User ID, to replace the outgoing Wii U System’s Nintendo Network ID. This system lets gamers set up custom usernames, which most people assumed would replace Friend Codes on the Switch. It now seems that this is not the case.
Nintendo first introduced Friend Codes with the Nintendo DS and has defended the system by saying it’s a necessary security measure for controlling whom players, particularly younger ones, interact with online. Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and virtually every other online system for any service that includes a friends list, however, relies on custom usernames or real-life names.