Switch Oled: why did Nintendo add an Ethernet port to its console?

Among the more discreet novelties of the new Nintendo Switch Oled, we find the appearance of an Ethernet port on the redesigned dock. A welcome addition for online gamers.

After months of waiting, the new Nintendo Switch has arrived. On July 6, 2021, Nintendo announced its new console with a 7-inch OLED screen, better speakers, and a redesigned kickstand to facilitate on-the-go gaming. If the Japanese manufacturer has clearly imagined this new Switch to facilitate gaming in portable mode, a novelty will still delight those who play on their TVs: the appearance of an Ethernet port on the console dock.

Until now, the only way to connect the Switch to the Internet was through a Wi-Fi network. Tech-savvy people could purchase Nintendo’s official USB adapter to connect their console to the wired Internet, but at 30 € the small accessory, it was expensive paid for the comfort provided. Above all, the hybrid model of the Switch makes it a console much more cut out for Wi-Fi than for wired Internet.

The competition connection

Why then does Nintendo boast of having integrated an Ethernet port into the dock of its new model? Firstly, because the Ethernet connection is often more stable and faster than the Wi-Fi connection. This will therefore allow the Switch Oled to download games and updates more quickly, when it is connected to its dock.

But those few megabits per second more, compared to a Wi-Fi connection, do not alone justify the appearance of this redesigned docking station. As Nintendo explains well on its site, the Ethernet port especially allows ” more stable connection when playing online in TV mode. A rather surprising justification, but rather welcome on the part of Nintendo.

Online play, and more specifically online fighting play, requires a stable connection and the lowest possible latency, to be enjoyed properly. As the specialist site Le Grand Pop explains, online fighting games use what is called a “netcode” based on a delay. To put it simply, it’s a micro latency that allows the two consoles to synchronize to play smoothly. Ideally, this period should be as short as possible, so as not to have a choppy and slowed down experience that would ruin the competition. Wired connection is therefore preferable to Wi-Fi in these circumstances.

Super Smash Bros, the ultimate fighting game

And if competing online on Switch sounds like a funny idea to you, remember that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the best selling fighting games in the world. Until then, the game was however little present in the middle of the online competition for questions of optimizations of the netcode on the one hand, but also, because there is hardly any Switch connected to the Internet wired. And for a game that sometimes requires reaction times of the order of a quarter of a second, this is a real problem.

Super Smash Bros is one of the best selling fighting games in the world // Source: Nintendo

The gaming community has long criticized Nintendo for its overpriced adapter and little effort to educate its public on the benefits of Ethernet for fighting games. More than four years after the release of the first Nintendo Switch, and two and a half years after the release of Super Smash Bros, Nintendo finally seems to have moved on the issue.

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