News Article

Talking Point: The 3DS Friends List is Severely Lacking

Posted by James Newton

What can you do?

Picture the scene: a new Nintendo handheld is announced, promising brand new features including more advanced communication functions. You'll be able to send messages to your friends through thin air, arrange to meet-up in games and, of course, draw crude pictures using the touch screen. What more could anyone want?

That's right: it's 2004 and Nintendo has just announced Pictochat for Nintendo DS. This local chatroom would join DS gamers together, but seven years on, why are its successor's communication features so lacking?

For those of you still desperately searching your 3DS menu for Pictochat, you can stop now: it simply isn't there. Ditching this fun but admittedly pointless local chat feature would hardly be notable if the machine compensated with online communication functions, but there's not much there.

Nintendo's decision to include a friends list for the first time was welcomed by many: one friend code per system, the ability to see what your friends are playing and share messages are all standard features on other consoles, but Nintendo's notorious frigidity towards online communication has hampered the machine's potential.

So far, the only communication between users is the 16-character status messages in the friends list: there's no Pictochat-like chat function, nor a Wii-style message board to share photos and emails. Those 16 characters are all you've got to share your 3DS experience with another user (apart from our Nintendo 3DS forums, of course!), with an orange dot above a friend signifying a new update. While we've already seen some users create entertaining comments under these restrictions, it's hardly an ideal way to communicate.

Nintendo is well known for its heavy emphasis on user privacy and would likely point to the prevalence of online predators as one reason not to include communication features in the 3DS, but the friend code system takes care of this by making sure only people you add can see you online. If you don't want someone getting in touch, don't add them; simple.

Nintendo is staying typically tight-lipped about its future plans for the friends list, but with many gamers disappointed at the current functionality built-in, we hope it's not too long before the system's communication features get enhanced.

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User Comments (74)

jaffa

#1

jaffa said:

I'm pretty sure Nintendo will create something soon.
Something that blows Pictochat out of the water.

Yosher

#3

Yosher said:

Yeah, as much as I love Nintendo, this is certainly an issue with them that they need to fix in the near future. Being able to message one another through the 3DS directly from the friend list would make arranging a match between two people so, so much easier. Come on Nintendo, Online PictoChat. Make it happen!

Supremeist

#5

Supremeist said:

I was real excited for the friends list. 16 characters? Bummer. Oh well, it will be fixed up by the time I get my 3DS.

Kid_A

#7

Kid_A said:

It's ridiculous, frankly. It's like Nintendo can't add something without taking something away.

Hardy83

#8

Hardy83 said:

People make fun of people saying this, but even though Nintendo has been going with online systems for years, they are not even remotely close to getting it right. They just... For some weird reason suck at everything online.

Games are brilliant. Hardware is great.
Online functionality for anything? Pffffft!

grumblebuzzz

#9

grumblebuzzz said:

At least we finally have a friends list. I'm sure in a future update, we'll get some sort of chat functionality or at least maybe enough characters in the status message to be able to form a complex sentence. For right now, though, I love the friend list, even if it is a little bit stilted as far as what you can do with it.

dizzy_boy

#10

dizzy_boy said:

hmmm, well that`s like pissing in the wind.
if nintendo does update the 3ds with a messaging service, it would have made sense to get all of important stuff included from the start. an extra few months wait to get things like this added in would have been a sensible move.

zeeroid

#11

zeeroid said:

It's pretty abhorrent. I am certain (and there've already been rumours to this effect) that a messaging system will be added at a later date. Probably during the much-touted "May update".

Roo

#12

Roo said:

As it stands, the 3DS Friends List is a pretty poor effort. I'd been lead to believe (by various websites, magazines and Nintendo press releases) that we'd have a fully-functioning Pictochat-like online messaging service from day one. I was very disappointed to find out last Friday just how misguided I had been.

I hope Nintendo sort this out as soon as possible. The current system simply isn't good enough for £219 worth of technology in 2011.

Stine

#14

Stine said:

I'm sure something will be added sooner or later. Hopefully in the May update.

SilverBaretta

#15

SilverBaretta said:

Eh, I really have no problem with the Friends List right now. It does everything it's supposed to do, everything else is just frosting on the cake, IMO.

Odnetnin

#16

Odnetnin said:

Speaking of which, you haven't added me yet, James! 16 characters is better than 0. ;)
3093-7077-1059

Knux

#17

Knux said:

Nintendo rushed the 3DS's launch and shipped it with only a handful of features. The 3DS is going to need a heck of a lot more communication features if it is going to be successful [like voice chat, IM, and maybe even a 3DS Speak Channel].

Monsti

#18

Monsti said:

I'm pretty sure something is coming with that infamous may update....If not I don't understand Nintendo anymore.

Since I'm not afraid of online predators feel free to add me and send me your friendcode. :)
3265-5048-8865

SuperDel

#19

SuperDel said:

As much as I think social networking is the worst, I would love a Nintendo spin on it via 3DS. I like seeing the software my friends have, their status, messaging, pictures etc etc.

Pod

#20

Pod said:

Eh. Just one of many reasons to not get the system yet I suppose.

JakobG

#21

JakobG said:

I completely agree, the friend list can be expanded by a lot, and we are basically assured it will; just look at the GUI, the space is just waiting to be filled with buttons that lead to all sorts of cool stuff.
Online Pictochat, videochat and shared activity log can and should be added (though I am pretty sure the first two will happen, seeing how Nintendo implied PictoChat and videochat was in Black & White).
At the moment, the interaction is just sad.

Unca_LzStaff

#22

Unca_Lz said:

And watch it. Here comes May with the major update and for some reason Nintendo gets everything right at once. Also, the update itself at the end will have Pit saying "Sorry to keep you waiting!" :P

sgotsch

#23

sgotsch said:

Well Monsti... go for 3136 - 6562 - 9758 to become my very first 3DS friend. ;P

SunnySnivy

#24

SunnySnivy said:

Am I the only one who doesn't care at all about messaging? If I'm in a place with internet connection I will have most likely have my laptop with me as well, so there is no need.

sgotsch

#25

sgotsch said:

I did just realise, that you can't even delete friends you sent an invite which has not been accepted yet. You can't even change the order, there is no way of interaction. oO

As much as i love my 3DS, its just a tiny part of its potential right now.

Sneaker13

#26

Sneaker13 said:

I don't understand it either. It would be great to see a friend coming online and you can send him a note asking if he wants to go play a game online.

I also don't like the limitation of only 100 friends. I'm really selecting which people have the same online game as me, and add them.

MasterGraveheart

#28

MasterGraveheart said:

I think the biggest issue is Nintendo worrying about younger gamers' safety online. I know it sucks for us older people who are a bit more sensible, but there ARE reasons for this. It's not like Nintendo doesn't know that more convenient options exist. It stinks, I know, but I'm certain Nintendo is continuing to work on this.

zeeroid

#30

zeeroid said:

@sgotsch,25: Yeah, you can delete them, actually. Go to the leftmost icon and select "Settings," then "Delete friend card." You can choose whom to delete from there.

@MasterGraveheart,28 At the same time, Nintendo offers Parental Control settings. Why not just allow parents to turn off voice chat, messaging, etc. if they're uncomfortable with it? They should know a large part of their audience is adult and deserves these features. It's simply lazy and archaic development practise.

theblackdragonAdmin

#31

theblackdragon said:

Guys, please don't spam us — we didn't implement the sixteen-character limit. Tell Nintendo how you feel; they're the only ones who can do something about it. :3
the people this is directed toward know what i'm talking about; everyone else, move along plz

Hyawatta

#33

Hyawatta said:

"And what is Wi-Fi messaging?

Sad news: PictoChat is dead. Good news: it's been replaced with a true online chat forum. Messaging gives you the same doodling/writing capabilities as those in PictoChat, only this time you communicate with online friends. Now you'll be able to tell your mates exactly what you thought of that Mario Kart blue shell on the finish line."

k8sMum

#35

k8sMum said:

on-line safety for little ones has to be the lamest excuse ever. there are parental controls to handle that one. nintendo wanted to get the 3DS out there and they, again, weren't ready for launch. they get forgiven because we love our mario, link etc, but they just were not ready. to spend this amount on a system and then need to wait months for updates is, imho, just wrong. (not to mention the update that was needed day 1...which is causing some users real problems.)

suburban_sensei

#36

suburban_sensei said:

Such a bummer, hope they add more in the near-future. I JUST got my 3DS last night, so I will be sure to find my FC once I fiddle with it in a bit and add it to the FC thread.

TheGreenSpiny

#37

TheGreenSpiny said:

I guess I'm the only one who doesn't care about this crap. I never used pictochat- not once. I don't ever plan on using chat for the 3DS when I get around to buying one, and I don't see how this is causing real problems for users. I'm sure Nintendo will come around, but I don't see this a reason to delay launch. No one forced you to buy day one. As I recall Sony didn't have many of thier features ready for PS3 when that launched.

Luffymcduck

#38

Luffymcduck said:

And I already though that I could communicate with my cousin trough 3DS when I entered his friend code. It´s ridiculous I can´t do that. Why do we have those parental controls in the first place?

Ristar42

#39

Ristar42 said:

I dont care about any of this stuff either. Not really interested in playing games online and if I want to contact friends I can always phone or email them...

TKOWL

#40

TKOWL said:

I never liked Pictochat that much anyways, because the conversations get way out of control and innapropriate in mere seconds.
Much like the NL Chat.

SuperLink

#41

SuperLink said:

I think this is where the people who haven't gotten a 3DS yet, say: "Well, I sure am glad I haven't gotten a 3DS yet!"

sgotsch

#42

sgotsch said:

thanks @30. zeeroid, took a look there but because of this huge mass of options i simply did not see it ;P

StarDust4Ever

#45

StarDust4Ever said:

I'm 30 years old and have no children nor do I plan to in the near future (I just really enjoy Nintendo games), so at this point in my life, I'm not much afraid of online predators. However, due to mass hysteria amidst the world wide web, and also to avoid accusations of being one myself, I will not be publicly disclosing my friend codes... :O

Seriously, Nintendo, 16 characters? Why? That's nowhere near long enough for inteligible communication, however it seems to be just the perfect length for some highly creative swears words, innuindos, and insults.

Congrats! You've already failed at accomplishing two of your primary goals: (1) give people an interactive experience online and (2) protect children from inappropriate content. The other companies have come to the correct conclusion that it is impossible to provide both, so they have focoused on objective #1. Nintendo is continually focused on objective #2 but have ultimately failed miserably at both.

Protecting kids online is the parents' responsibility. Sony, Microsoft, and Apple already know this. Why should Nintendo still believe otherwise? Wait for the May 2011 update. If Nintendo still have not provided better service by then, let the complaints commense. :P

EliPro

#46

EliPro said:

Im seriously sending an angry rant to Nintendo about this. Im dead freaking serious. I'll send you guess a post of it.

Minjo_Master

#48

Minjo_Master said:

Is it even possible for them to add anything to it? I notice that most of the other things we know are coming are already there, and just tell us blah blah future system update. Yet there's nothing like that on the Friends List.

Sonic1994CD

#49

Sonic1994CD said:

Thats ok. I rarely got to use that feature. Only when my friend had a DS, I was able. They should of added wifi to it.

astarisborn94

#55

astarisborn94 said:

We'll have to wait until May to see whenever or not they are truly delivering. Remember, not everything is available right now.

jasondeehr

#56

jasondeehr said:

They really have to make someway to communicate. I mean, it has parental lockouts, just include chat functions in that!

triforceofcourage

#57

triforceofcourage said:

How hard would it have been to port over a wi-fi pictochat? Friends only of course, but it would work like a charm for setting up online fights and stuff. There will most likely be tons of little chat apps from the eshop, but patience sucks.

ianmage1

#58

ianmage1 said:

I don't really care at the moment. I'm the only one out of all of my friends and family to have a 3DS (yes I feel very special), and I don't really have anyone to chat with; so until someone I know gets a 3DS, I'm fine. :D

Samholy

#59

Samholy said:

i hope they do enhance this underdevelopped friend list thing.
a wi-fi console handheld with not much communication system is rather... idiotic.
meeting other Miis is amusing, but not beeing able to have a little chat with them is annoying. the mii plaza could take a huge step forward with a chat feature.

Number_6

#60

Number_6 said:

I'm one of those in the minority that doesn't care about chat, but the 3DS will be much more useful to me when the "add-browser" update allows me to email my friends. I suppose it's a variation on a theme really, in that both are similar methods of communication, but being able to actually use my 3DS to contact and respond from nearly everywhere I regularly go thanks to proliferation of Wi-Fi will make the 3DS much more useful to me other than for gaming.

Bunta

#61

Bunta said:

Give it some time people! i assume that either they were having problem with trying to implement some sort of messaging system (hence why we have the 16-character note) just to let us have some function of it when the real thing will come out later, or they thought it wasnt that important and is/are currently working on it now.

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#62

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

I really don't have a problem with this. I don't have accessible wifi and I don't really care for online gaming so to speak. As a gamer I like going at things alone.

Nintonic

#64

Nintonic said:

That would be cool if you could use the 3ds mic
for talking. But then again that is why we invented phones. :D

Dodger

#65

Dodger said:

I will be quite
upset if somethi
ng doesn't come
with the late ma
y updates. I cha
t with my best f
riend using the statuses and 16 letters is super lame.

Seriously. The wii can send rather long messages to a system in your address book, an email or a cell phone. Why can't the 3DS? Just use spotpass. It gets sent out when you connect to the internet next and you receive a message when you connect to the internet next. It would be awesome.

Bigrat

#66

Bigrat said:

Give it some time. Why would the 3DS have updates if they have everything out in the beginning. Patience!

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