With GoldenEye 007’s Switch vs. Xbox online multiplayer gaffe, Xbox snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Today, the world collectively lost its mind and then was instantly sobered again within about 10 minutes. Initially, Nintendo revealed during its September 2023 Nintendo Direct that GoldenEye 007 is coming back! Versions of the game would arrive on Xbox and Switch – and the world rejoiced! We could live out our teenage lives again, sitting on the floor playing with our buddies, huddled around little screens with N64 pads clutched in our hands.

But the celebration was short-lived. After the Direct wrapped up, more materials for the games started to circulate, and it became clear that something was off – the two versions of the games, one for Xbox and one for Switch, would be quite different after all.

Over on the Xbox Wire, Craig Duncan of Rare noted that “the classic campaign mode, transformative difficulty levels and havoc-inducing cheats will all make their return – as will the iconic split-screen local multiplayer mode, allowing up to four players to take to the couch in a battle of wits and skill.”

We’ve added the bold for emphasis, because it’s very different to what you see on the Nintendo version.

Over on the official 007 press site (yes, it exists), the Nintendo game is confirmed to have online multiplayer. Exclusive online multiplayer.

Exclusive to the new Switch version of the 1997 title will be online play, allowing 007 fans across the world to take part in the popular four person multiplayer mode together.” Once again, that’s our bold for emphasis.

Box art for GoldenEye 007.
No, Mr Bond, I expect you to play offline.

Take a cursory look online – even at the quote tweets on the tweet we put out reporting on this news – and you’ll see one very clear message: people are not very happy about this. Everyone thought they’d be able to connect up with their pals back home – or on the other side of the world – and play some GoldenEye 007, just like the good ol’ days. But nah; you’re going to have to arrange sleepovers again if you want to properly re-live your misspent, glassy-eyed youth, I’m afraid.

But why are people so aggrieved? Well, for a start, the Nintendo Switch family of systems is not particularly well-known for its robust online – you even need to go via a mobile app to get voice chat worth using (in fact, when playing Monster Hunter Rise on Switch, a friend and I actually just… boot up the Xbox and use its in-built chat and party functionality there. It’s much less painful).

Moreover, even though this version of GoldenEye will come day and date to Xbox Game Pass, people aren’t really there for the upgraded single-player stuff – it was always, always about the multiplayer. In the eyes of Xbox fans, one version of the game getting online multiplayer whilst another has to ‘make do’ with local, couch co-op feels like a bit of an insult – why can’t both get the same support?

It’s an odd job, but someone’s got to do it.

I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, and at the time of writing, I have been told the PR is “looking into what [they] can share with [me]”. Given the famously thorny rights issues that GoldenEye 007 has been imbibed in, I have to imagine part of the deal behind being allowed to port the game was to give Nintendo – the original platform the game released on – exclusivity to the online aspect of the game. I could be talking out my arse, of course, but it seems feasible.

As our own Alex Donaldon said over on Twitter, this is a case of Xbox snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – a very strange turn of events, and one that will go some way to undoing the vast goodwill the company has generated with years of amazing Game Pass offerings and a renewed focus on ‘customer first’ mentality.

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