Nintendo’s fledgling (and unofficial) steps into mainland China have seen a bit of a stumble after its newly-launched Nintendo Switch Online service suffered outages in the country.
The reason for said outages, seeing black screens and connectivity issues with the likes of Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, reportedly comes down to Nintendo’s use of Google servers for the online service. Google is currently banned in China, so access would not be permitted for users attempting connections via its infrastructure.
The Switch hasn’t actually launched officially in mainland China, but Chinese nationals are able to pick up units from Hong Kong, where the console has seen release. As such it’s understandable that the ‘unofficial’ Chinese launch might be impacted by unforeseen issues.
Hong Kong maintains some level of independent jurisprudence from the mainland, so Google – and its servers – are not blocked there.
The loosening on restrictions of video games in China has seen a rapid increase in the number of publishers making their way to the country – Ubisoft announced its plans earlier this year, Tencent dragged Fortnite into the country with a huge investment, Valve announced plans for Steam China, even start-ups like UK-based Improbable have made inroads to the country.
At the same time, this increased pace of change has seen government crackdowns pop up with alarming regularity – from the delay in licensing of new titles stymieing growth of the Chinese market, to the likes of Twitch being blacklisted in the country. It’s getting better for gaming in China, but there’s still a ways to go.