Author Topic: Why StreetPass Functionality Would Make Sense for the Switch 2  (Read 332 times)

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Offline Kairon

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Why StreetPass Functionality Would Make Sense for the Switch 2
« on: February 20, 2024, 03:14:16 PM »

There's multiple reasons why the Nintendo 3DS StreetPass feature should return in the Nintendo Switch successor.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/editorial/66333/why-streetpass-functionality-would-make-sense-for-the-switch-2

Until Nintendo reveals the Switch 2 there's plenty of space to speculate about what they'll do for their next act. It'll be a more powerful system on some level - that alone is a prolific topic of speculation - but for a company with such a unique history of hardware innovations/changes, how exactly will their next console differentiate itself from the current Switch console? And with the success of the Switch, should they deviate from its basic concept at all?

Actually, Nintendo could do both - give their new system a unique gameplay feature and not risk upsetting their current paradigm - if they took one simple step: bring back their StreetPass functionality from last decade's 3DS handheld system.

StreetPass was a unique feature for the Nintendo 3DS (and its later variants) that allowed two systems in Sleep Mode to exchange data without their owners explicitly initiating the exchange. For example, two people with 3DS handhelds could casually walk past each other with no interaction and later on, when they woke up their 3DS systems, they'd find new data within their games from each other that could result in new experiences.

This resulted in some unique gameplay experiences, such as passing along basic profile information, trading in-game collectibles, unlocking bonus items or abilities in each other's games, having asynchronous battles between their game characters, or whatever else developers could think up.

Looking ahead, letting two Switch 2 systems do this, instead of two Nintendo 3DS systems, actually makes sense for a variety of reasons:

1. Nintendo LOVES to resurrect old ideas for new products

Bringing back StreetPass for the Switch 2 would fit in perfectly with Nintendo's product history. This is a company that enjoys carrying forward past features or ideas into new products.

The Nintendo DS shares its clamshell dual screen design with some of the 1980's Nintendo Game & Watch handhelds, the Wii's Mii avatars have a history stretching back to the NES/Famicom console, and that little IR camera in the right Joy-Con can be traced back at least as far as the Game Boy Color.

2. StreetPass won't require any radical new hardware be added to the Switch 2

Adding any new hardware will cost money, money sorely needed elsewhere to either pay for beefier computational power or better saved simply to keep costs down. Additional hardware might also complicate the design for a portable system (assuming the Switch 2 resembles the current Switch in this regard) that needs to make smart use of every cubic centimeter.

But StreetPass is just a novel way of using the existing Wi-Fi capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. No extra hardware needed, no extra cost in the Switch 2's bill of materials.

3. StreetPass could improve public awareness of the Switch 2

Everyone loved showing off their Switch when it had just released, it was the new hotness. We assume the Switch 2 will be similarly portable, but that just isn't that new these days.

However, if people start pulling out their Switch 2s to check their StreetPass activity, that would make the Switch successor visible in public spaces in a way the first Switch never was. And beyond just organic visibility, enthusiast spaces would ratchet this effect up significantly. People are still bringing their 3DS systems to conventions and fan gatherings, and the Switch 2 could receive a boost among hardcore fans who enjoy this aspect of connection.

4. StreetPass could encourage frequent play of the Switch 2

Nintendo has consistently been keeping an eye on recurring play among their console owners. With the Wii they used WiiConnect24 to send updates and messages to Wii Consoles on a frequent basis, using a glowing disc slot light to entice players to at least start up their system, check their notifications, and at least consider playing a video game. Similarly, Nintendo tracks annual players in their investor performance presentations, so the number of people actively engaging with their game consoles, not just owning them, is a big deal. No one wants to sell 100 million consoles that simply collect dust.

StreetPass would be another arrow in Nintendo's quiver to entice players to boot up their Switch 2's. There's no silver bullet to make someone play every single day of their life (aside from, possibly, nonstop gaming nirvana), but in a world of mobile notifications, streaming content, and social media, a quick curious check about whether you might have inadvertently walked by a mystery Switch 2 owner could help Nintendo's case.

5. Nintendo Online accounts could benefit from an internet-based StreetPass With Friends

Another of Nintendo's goals is to give players every reason possible to subscribe to Nintendo Online. It's a little cynical, but Nintendo could leverage StreetPass to add an additional reason to sign up: daily StreetPass exchanges with friends over the internet, not just by being physically near each other.

The Nintendo 3DS had something similar to this called StreetPass Relay: instead of needing to be in the same place at the same time as another StreetPass user, if you brought your Streetpass to a "Streetpass Relay" enabled Wi-Fi Access Point (for example, a McDonald's public Wi-Fi network) then you'd get StreetPass data for other players who had also walked by a StreetPass Relay point at some time.

The Switch 2 could tweak this idea into simply giving you limited daily StreetPass data over the internet, and focus it on your friends in Nintendo's online account system. This could maintain the sense of connection between friends who live far away from each other, provide StreetPass functionality to those who don't travel with their Switch but instead leave it docked to the TV all the time, and provide an additional reason to sign up for Nintendo's basic online subscriptions.

6. Even if the Switch 2 doesn't launch with StreetPass, it might be capable of adding it in later

Remember reason #2? Even if Nintendo launches the Switch 2 without StreetPass, perhaps there's a possibility they can add the functionality in via a firmware update. This relies on the idea that they'd primarily need to update the OS to use the existing Wi-Fi tech in this new way.

Another possibility is StreetPass via both a hardware upgrade/add-on accessory. This wouldn't be unprecedented. When Nintendo came out with Amiibo, the Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS systems had NFC readers built-in to read the Amiibo figure data for Super Smash Bros. and other games. But earlier models of the 3DS didn't have Amiibo readers, and instead Nintendo sold an accessory for the older systems to read the Amiibo figure data and pass it on to those devices.

A similar setup could be possible for the Switch 2. Down the line, Nintendo could introduce StreetPass as a feature to newer Switch 2 hardware revisions (a Switch 2 Pro, for example) and if older Switch 2's couldn't gain this feature by simple firmware upgrade, Nintendo could sell a "StreetPass Passport" device that could do the job of collecting StreetPass data over a passive wireless connection, and then syncing up with older Switch 2 hardware to pass this along. This passport could even take a compact form suitable for your pocket or purse making it super convenient to exchange StreetPass data away from your console.

Even if it came at a later date, I think StreetPass could be an added feature for the Switch 2, and Nintendo always seems to enjoy having another accessory to sell.

Conclusion

Now, will the Switch 2 bring back StreetPass? That's the big question and no one knows that as of right now. Frankly, this is all speculation, and we are all currently trapped in that liminal space of feeling in our bones that a Switch successor is approaching, but with practically zero official confirmed information about it. At some point, hopefully soon, Nintendo will release us from purgatory. But if they did bring back StreetPass for the Switch 2 it would make a lot of sense. And it would make this lifelong Nintendo fan, and Nintendo 3DS Ambassador, very happy.

Carmine Red, Associate Editor

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