Just when you think Nintendo's becoming all forward-thinking about the internet - with integrated apps (opens in new tab) and whatnot - you see the dreaded friend codes on Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab) and your heart sinks. Yes, it's true, Nintendo's latest console once again lets you add friends by punching in a series of eminently forgettable digits, even after Wii U went to a standard account name system. But it's not as bad as it sounds.
First off, linking via friend codes is now half the work: the person who wants to send a request just punches in the other person's code, then the receiver can simply choose to accept or decline. No need to do a full-on, paper-passing exchange where both parties must know each other's code.
There's also the usual option to add friends locally using a wireless connection, and you can send requests to a list of people you've recently played with online. All pretty standard so far. Then your Nintendo Account integration comes in - if you have friends from Miitomo or Super Mario Run (opens in new tab) who also have a Switch, they'll appear in the menu as candidates for a friend request. And Nintendo told Polygon (opens in new tab) that a future update will let you link up with external social networks (like Facebook, presumably, though that wasn't specifically mentioned) to easily add your real-life Switch friends.
Also planned is a system for sending friend requests to people you were friends with on Wii U and 3DS. So yes, the friend code is back, but only for very specific scenarios. Speaking of which, Nintendo may have just stumbled on an honest-to-God good reason to use codes instead of the typical friend request system! People with well-known screen names, like popular streamers, won't have to worry about a deluge of friend requests every time they go live on Switch. They can still link up with fans just by showing their friend codes, of course, but this should give them the option to keep their "Requests" section a bit more manageable.
Maybe Nintendo is finally getting the hang of this internet thing after all! Maybe. It still doesn't make up for the eShop not having music.
Seen something newsworthy? Tell us!