Nintendo showed off Super Mario Maker 2’s new four-player competitive and co-op online modes earlier this month, and the company has now confirmed that players will only be able to matchmake online with random people, not their friends.
Earlier today, Nintendo World Report reported that a Nintendo Treehouse representative had told it at a press event last week that the game doesn’t allow players to matchmake with friends online. The only way to play with people you know is to do so locally.
The YouTube channel GameXplain asked Nintendo about NWR’s report and was given the following statement:
“This is true. As the game is now, you cannot create friend lobbies online. You can only play online with randoms. You can still get friends together and play with local play, and you’re free to play with four players on one Nintendo Switch system. You can also still challenge your friends to your creations and take on their designs through Course IDs and having them follow your Maker profile.”
According to GameXplain, while friends can play online courses together locally on the same Switch, they can’t matchmake with other people online. So if you and one other person want to compete in an online course together, you can’t matchmake to backfill the other two slots.
It’s a weird restriction considering that many of Nintendo’s other major multiplayer games on the Switch have some way of playing online with your friends. In Splatoon 2 you can join friends’ matches or set up private online battles. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you simply select a friend who’s racing online to join them. Even in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, whose online setup is far from idea, you create personal arenas online that friends can then join.
Nintendo has also gone to great lengths to emphasize Mario Marker 2’s multiplayer potential. Earlier this month, the company announced the Super Mario Maker 2 Invitational 2019 where a select group of players will compete at E3 in the game’s multiplayer competitive mode.
According to NWR, the reason Nintendo gave for not allowing matchmaking online with friends is that it would provide a way for players to potentially work together to boost one another’s rankings on the game’s competitive leaderboards. However, as NWR pointed out, the game’s online cooperative mode doesn’t have leaderboards, and matchmaking with friends isn’t allowed in that mode either.
Nintendo didn’t immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for further comment.