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Nintendo Switch update brings back friend codes, delivers 300-friend cap

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Yes, seriously

Nintendo Switch - Neon Red/Blue Joy-Cons in Joy-Con Grip next to Dock, all sitting on a wooden background James Bareham/Vox Media

The Nintendo Switch’s day-one update hit this morning, bringing with it the need to exchange the much-hated friend codes as a way to add friends on Nintendo’s online network in certain situations. The system currently allows up to 300 friends, according to Nintendo.

The update, which also adds the eShop, went live early this morning in preparation for tomorrow’s launch of the Switch.

A new option in the console’s menu gives players four ways to add friends now:

  • Search for local users
  • Search for users you’ve played with
  • Search with Friend Code
  • Send Friend Requests

Unless you’ve played with a person before or are in the same room with someone, you need to give a player your 12-digit friend code to add them.

The system does include iPhone games among the list of titles you can pull friends from without having to exchange random strings of numbers. But you need to either be friends with them in that game or have recently played with them.

The Friend Code returns, seen here on a Nintendo Switch user’s page

There are also options to block people, and favorite friends so they appear near the top of your friend list.

The 300-friend cap on the Switch is strikingly lower than the maximum amount of friends allowed on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. The former’s cap is 2,000 and the latter’s is 1,000.

In January, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told CNET that the company was hoping to create a better online experience and that “there are no friend codes within what we’re doing.”

We’ve reached out to Nintendo to clarify what Fils-Aime’s statement meant in light of today’s update, and to see if perhaps Friend Codes aren’t here to stay for the Switch. We’ll update this story when they respond.

The update didn’t just bring back friend codes; it also added a variety of system features, according to Nintendo of Japan’s support page. Those tweaks include:

  • Online gaming
  • Game news from Nintendo
  • eShop
  • Friend function
  • Post screenshots on Facebook or Twitter
  • Added the ability to turn on a TV automatically via CEC
  • Display battery life in the Home menu
  • Format a microSD card

We’ll be testing out the update and will make sure to address any other functionality issues or fixes we find as we come across them.

You can read our review of the Switch right here, and our review of the system’s first must-have game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, right here.


Watch: Nintendo Switch Hardware Review