Microsoft Can’t Explain Why Xbox ‘Goldeneye’ Doesn’t Have Online Play, But Nintendo Switch Does

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Yesterday marked a monumental day for the video game industry, the rights issues to the original Goldeneye have finally been sorted out after nearly 25 years, allowing for full re-releases of the game. One is coming to Xbox, with 4K and higher framerates, and another to the Nintendo Switch as part of the N64 Switch Online service.

And yet there is one extremely weird caveat to this. While the Xbox version of Goldeneye coming to Game Pass has split-screen multiplayer like the old days, it does not have online multiplayer. But what does have online multiplayer? The Nintendo Switch version.

Microsoft is refusing to clarify what exactly is going on here. In multiple statements to various outlets, they only confirm that no, the Xbox version of Goldeneye would not have online play, but would not say why.

There are two theories as to what’s going on here:

1) As the original platform publisher of Goldeneye 007, Nintendo demanded some sort of exclusive perk for their version, and that is the ability to have online multiplayer.

2) This theory revolves around Nintendo’s janky online multiplayer system, which in many instances is not “true” online multiplayer, but one person essentially hosting a split-screen session that is instead streamed to other players through a central host.

It’s that second theory I buy more than the first, that Nintendo’s online service might actually be so low tech that it accommodates online play for Goldeneye, whereas a more traditional online matchmaking/hosting situation through Xbox Live would be more complicated and something that Microsoft can’t/doesn’t want to do develop just for this release. It just doesn’t sound very Nintendo to me for them to demand online play for something like this while asking it to be restricted on Xbox. Then again, I don’t know why Microsoft just refuses to explain this at all, unless it is some privileged part of the deal that they cannot discuss.

Regardless, it’s very weird. I would be much more likely to play Goldeneye with friends online than to have them over for splitscreen like it’s 1997, as nostalgic as that makes me. Most of my friends don’t live here and I only have two total Xbox controllers anyway. And yes, it does strike me as weird that Nintendo, the most non-online company in the world, has access to this ability but Xbox doesn’t. Still, no one’s talking, for whatever strange reason.

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Paul Tassi

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