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Vivox is bringing its voice chat SDK to the Nintendo Switch

Here's a story that could either be good news or bad news. USgamer is reporting that Vivox — the company behind Fortnite's voice chat system — is now providing a voice chat SDK (software development kit) to all Nintendo Switch developers. In one sense, this means that more games could offer a normal, non-smartphone method of voice communication for players.

That is great when compared to the normal state of affairs, because as popular as the Nintendo Switch is right now, it falls down hard in the online services department. The console's online store isn't particularly well put together. The friends list somehow gets worse with every subsequent Nintendo platform. And voice chat for most games requires the Nintendo Switch smartphone app (which, in turn, requires a mess of cables).

But here's the rub when it comes to relying on third-party magic to fix a first-party problem — it has the potential to really mess things up down the line.

Let's say that Nintendo, one day, decides to get its online act together. Let's imagine that the company finally decides to overhaul its online systems, creating its own sort of fully featured Xbox Live or PlayStation Network for the Switch. How would Nintendo's own service play with games that have a third-party chat system enabled?

More importantly, how would consumers understand the difference between a Nintendo Switch Online party, for example, versus the party that a game like Smite (which plans to use the Vivox SDK) might put them in?

You don't really see other consoles dealing with these types of concerns, which is why the blame lies solely with Nintendo for bungling its online efforts so egregiously. Had the company introduced Nintendo Switch Online with services comparable to those on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, there wouldn't be a need for third-party workarounds. Instead, developers aren't satisfied with the skimpy feature set Nintendo offers, and they're opting to do their own thing.

Maybe Nintendo should just outsource its online services to Microsoft — a real possibility now that Xbox Live will soon expand across platforms.