It’s no secret that Nintendo‘s online multiplayer servers haven’t developed the greatest reputation over the years. While Switch games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 have given players generally smooth online experiences since their release, games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Maker 2 have become known for stuttering during online play and giving players constant communication errors.
Up until recently, Nintendo previously offered online play at no extra cost since the release of the hit DS handheld, despite paid services like Xbox Live and PS Plus seeing notable success. However, the transition to a paid online service in the form of Nintendo Switch Online in 2018 caused frustration for many fans who saw no improvement in the quality of online play, despite other additions like a growing library of NES and SNES games. Now, it looks like Nintendo may be replacing its online servers.
According to members of the Nintendo Switch datamining community, Nintendo seems to be be replacing its current online multiplayer server system dating back nearly 20 years with a new one very soon. On Twitter, dataminer OatmealDome noted that the Switch’s recent Monster Hunter Rise demo is the first game to utilize the new multiplayer server system, acting as a test run.
Nintendo has reportedly been using a multiplayer server system known as NEX since the 3DS and Wii U. Although the tech is reportedly about 20 years old, Nintendo has reportedly been using the system for around 10 years now, which was previously known as Quazal before being bought by Ubisoft in 2010 and licensed by Nintendo soon after. The new multiplayer server system is said to be known as NPLN, and has reportedly entered preview phases beginning with the Monster Hunter Rise demo. It may be worth noting this testing phase, since some fans still experienced online difficulties when playing the Monster Hunter Rise demo online.
Although these new rumors have fans hoping for a better Switch experience online, OatmealDome also mentioned that the shift in server systems may just be for housekeeping purposes and likely won’t immediately bring better online multiplayer functionalities. More improvements and features would likely be added later down the line after Nintendo has made a smooth transition to the new server system.
It will be interesting to see if the newly added online multiplayer for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury will also utilize the NPLN multiplayer system when the game releases just next week. For now, Nintendo Switch Online members everywhere seem to have their fingers crossed hoping that the Switch will see improved online play sometime soon.