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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Nintendo's Faux Shared Commitment to Safer Online Gaming

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'm calling out some blatant falsehoods.

At the beginning of this week, Nintendo rolled out their “Shared Commitment to Safer Gaming” principles, with their press release making it seem like a big unifying moment between them and Sony and Microsoft. While I'm not too familiar with what Sony has to say, Microsoft was ahead of Nintendo by over a year and a half on this.

Reading through their statement, Nintendo is saying a lot of general, vague platitudes that aren't surprising to anyone. They are, in fact, so general and broad and company-agnostic, that when one thinks of their own Nintendo Switch experience, one will realise that Nintendo's principles aren't actually being done in practice. Specifically, their responsibility section.

In terms of the claim that Nintendo “ensure[s] that players who have been reported understand the requirements for continued engagement with our platforms”, Nintendo doesn't properly communicate to players why stuff disappears, or why Nintendo takes the moderation actions they do. And just based on Miiverse's moderation bungles (most obviously censoring discussion on Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney's Turnabout Trump case, though I'd say the two bans I got weren't deserved), it's hard to say that Nintendo had “skilled human oversight” at work there. But maybe things have changed in the years following?

The biggest problem is when Nintendo repeatedly says things like, “We partner with our community to promote safe gaming behavior and encourage the use of reporting tools to call out bad actors.” and “We make it easy for players to report violations of our code of conduct[.]” It's actually really hard to report someone online for Nintendo games. While Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has an in-game reporting system, Splatoon 2 does not. While you can report posts made in the square, you can't report people from there.

Can you report people from looking at their Nintendo Switch system profile, say, by finding them via Search for Users You Played With?

fvcksniper Nintendo Switch profile page block Splatoon 2
(By the way, a few matches after losing to fvcksniper, I finally X-ranked Rainmaker mode in Splatoon 2.
That means I've now X-ranked every Ranked mode!)

But there IS a reporting form on SplatNet 2.0... that you can only access by installing the Nintendo Switch Online app on a compatible smartphone (an entirely different device than the Nintendo Switch you encountered the bad person on).

Splatnet 2.0 reporting form report player Nintendo Splatoon 2 fvcksniper censor bypassing inappropriate name
SplatNet 2.0 has a reporting form, exclusive to a totally separate device than the Switch.
(Not easy to do this, Nintendo!)

But if you're a game like Mario Tennis Aces and you don't have your own app, chances are your in-game infrastructure doesn't support reporting people. In which case... players are out of luck if they encounter a hacker or someone with an inappropriate nickname, and Nintendo stating they have easy tools for players to report code violators is just demonstrably false. You can block them (although the Nintendo Switch has a low limit, I believe 100, on the number of people you can block), but you can also be matched up against people you've blocked when playing online, which makes blocking pointless besides preventing friend requests. Being match-made with users on my block list has happened to me many times. How is that in the spirit of Nintendo's stated principles of online safety?

Let Ludwig know in the comments section if online safety is this perilous on the Xbox and PlayStation platforms as it is on Nintendo's, since he doesn't have that level of experience. Will Nintendo make it easier to be safe online as a result of this article detailing the flaws? If so, then you should share this article out to people!


  1. I got "Hitler" in a Turf War once. I won and then reported the name with the app.

    Congrats on the X ranks. I sense my anxiety holds me back from getting high ranks in Ranked mode.

    1. Did Hitler jump into the water/off the stage when you were gonna spawn-camp him?

      Thanks. I've had X in everything but Rainmaker for a while, but Rainmaker was very, very stubborn. I've never actually played a ranked match after getting the X rank, because my impression is that you can lose the X rank if you do bad there. But you don't lose it if you never play.

    2. From what I remember it was in Inkblot Art Academy which makes things even worse.

      I thought the X rank needs to be maintained because otherwise it reverts to S+9.

    3. ...Ahahahaha.

      According to the Splatoon Wiki:
      "After each month, X Power resets to "Calculating" status. The calculation period, lasting ten matches, determines the player's power level going into Rank X. Starting X Power, during the calculation period, is between 2000 and 2300, depending on the previous ranking period, with an initial rating deviation of 250.

      During the time of the reset, players whose X Power ended up lower than a set threshold (below 2,000) rank down to S+9. However, if X Power drops low enough (by a loss after getting below 1,900), players rank down to S+9 on the spot rather than at the time of the reset. "

      If you start at 2000, and you never play a match, you'll never be below 2000, so you'll never go to S+9, I guess.

  2. Feels like this is more of an Xbox Playstation problem. I mean if the worst part is someones usernme, then i'm glad. I don't really know of any current nintendo games with actual voicechat/chatchat (the app does not count, you know no one uses it!), but that seems to be the biggest problem to me. One bad username is one thing, but a constant barrage of slurs is another, i'm looking at you x-box live. Online cheating however, is never okay.

    1. There definitely are cheaters on Splatoon 2 and other games, be it directly, or by lag-switching, or whatever. You can have code of conduct-breaking behaviour without voice chat!

      (You can have it by typed-in text too, for the games that allow that, though you may not consider that worse than someone's foul username.)

      Anyway, if you encounter something bad, you can't report it, despite Nintendo saying reporting bad things is easy. That's a big problem.

  3. what happened to nintendo bootlicking please write an article about melee now


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