Update, June 11: Shortly after Nintendo's E3 2019 "Direct" video presentation on Tuesday, the game maker hosted a "Treehouse" panel on YouTube with updates about previously announced Nintendo Switch games. One of those updates confirmed some good news for hopeful owners: its online matchmaking service will indeed receive "friends-only" modes after all.
When discussing upcoming support for the June 28 game, producer Takashi Tezuka said through a translator, "A new update will let people play with your friends online." The game will not ship with this feature in June, and no date was attached to this eventual update. But we're glad to see the company publicly reverse course and reach feature parity with other first-party Nintendo Switch Online games.
Most of the news to come out of a recent press event seems to be good, with series fans confirming that the "make your own Mario" series has only gotten bigger and better in its Nintendo Switch premiere. But the event also included confirmation of a strange limitation for the June 28 game: the series' new online-multiplayer modes—which require a paid Nintendo Switch Online membership—will let players matchmake with friends.
As news reports from the event emerged on Tuesday, one of those (from Nintendo World Report) included a tidbit disclosed by a Nintendo Treehouse staffer about the game's online matchmaking. will include both online-versus and online-cooperative modes, and these four-player sessions serve random, community-created platforming levels for players to race through (with a bouncy-physics system akin to ).
However, NWR reported that the Switch game's launch version will not support online matchmaking with friends of your choosing: online players will only be able to dive into a pool of "randoms." As NWR wrote:
Nintendo's reasoning is that, with global leaderboards, the matchmaking for competitive play would be compromised if you could play with friends. That limitation also extends to co-op play, as well, despite those [modes] not being leaderboard driven.
NWR's report doesn't include any explanation from Nintendo as to why the developer won't give players the choice to play with preferred or chosen friends in an "unranked" pool even though this option has been available for online console video games since the original Xbox's . (Such options are also available in Nintendo-published Switch games like , , and .)
A Nintendo representative confirmed the news to Ars Technica by sending the following statement: "As the game is now, you cannot bring friend lobbies online. You can only play online with randoms." That statement also pointed out that 's local multiplayer modes will work either with multiple Switch consoles in the same room or all players sharing a single screen on a single Switch system. (However, even local play will require a persistent connection to the Internet and at least one paid Nintendo Switch Online membership.)
Unlike the original , this June's sequel requires a paid NSO membership to access custom level uploads and downloads. As if to sweeten that change to the series, Nintendo announced earlier this month that is officially the first side-scrolling Super Mario game to support online-multiplayer action in any capacity. We're hopeful that today's phrasing of "as the game is now" means a patch could eventually remedy this gap in 's paid-online offerings.