Communications error

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A communication error has occurred. If this error persists, it may be due to your connection being unstable. For more details, please visit the Nintendo Switch support site.
Splatoon 3's alternate communication error message.
The user interface after a communications error in Splatoon.

A communications error, commonly referred to as a communication error, occurs in the Splatoon series when players in an online match become unable to connect to the other consoles due to issues with one or more player's internet connections. It results in the forfeiture of the current match.


In the Splatoon series, a central server is only used for the initial connection and matchmaking purposes, after which participants are connected to each other via peer-to-peer communications.

In the event that the network connectivity of a player is interrupted for whatever reason, even partially or temporarily, their participation in a match is adversely affected. Many pieces of information are transmitted between players at all times, including player and objective locations and ink behavior. Should the information get processed out of order, or should any console delay in sending the information to others, anomalies such as turf not being inked when shot or players appearing to teleport around can occur.

It is possible for multiple players to have communication problems simultaneously; if communication across the entire match suffers enough, it may forcibly end for all players. Splatoon 3 tends to be the biggest offender of mass disconnects due to the game's netcode being different; should the host disconnect, the game tends to have trouble reassigning the host to another player.

When the player gets disconnected, the message "A communications error occurred" or "A communication error has occurred" appears, and the player returns to the lobby or Grizzco Industries, depending on the mode being played.

Effects of disconnection

Should a player be disconnected in the middle of a match due to a communications error, the match will count as a loss without impacting their win ratio, and the following actions are taken.


For the disconnected player, the following is applied:

Splatoon 2

For the disconnected player, the following is applied:

  • In Regular Battles, Freshness is deducted.
  • In Ranked Battles, points are added to the crack counter on the rank meter, depending on the team composition.
  • In League Battles, League power is deducted depending on the team composition.
  • In Salmon Run, the player will be assigned a Wave 1 defeat regardless of the wave in which the disconnection occurred, with 20 points deducted from their Job Title.

For the teammates playing with a disconnected player, the following applies:

  • In Regular Battles, teammates do not lose Freshness if a player had disconnected early in the match.
  • In Ranked Battles, the rank meter will not change if a player had disconnected early in the match.
  • In Splatfest Battles, Splatfest Power is deducted based on the team composition.
  • In Salmon Run, the Golden Egg quota re-balances itself to accommodate for fewer players, being reduced by (1 / n + 1), rounded down, with n representing the number of players that are still connected; the rate at which Salmonids spawn is not affected by this. If the first or second wave is failed afterward, teammates would receive half the normal pay cut, losing ten points in Wave 1, or five in Wave 2.

Splatoon 3

A Splatfest Battle ended early due to a first-minute disconnect.

For the disconnected player, the following is applied:

  • In Regular Battles, Freshness is deducted.
  • In Anarchy Battle (Series), a loss will be added to the player's current series, or end it abruptly.
  • In Anarchy Battle (Open), points are deducted depending on the player's rank; Anarchy Power is deducted based on the team composition while playing as a group.
  • In Challenges, Challenge Power is deducted based on the team composition.
  • In Splatfest Battles and Tricolor Turf War battles, Splatfest Power is deducted based on the team composition.
  • In Salmon Run Next Wave, the player will be assigned a Wave 1 defeat regardless of the wave in which the disconnection occurred, with 20 points deducted from their Job Title and the Salmometer not filling up.

Should a player disconnect within the first minute of a public match, the game will end in a draw after ten seconds, unless if it occurred during Challenges where rankings are announced while either team is composed as a group of four members, or if a Knockout occurs in a ranked mode within the ten-second time frame; no players will receive rewards nor battle replay is saved. Festival shells will still be retained if this occurs during a 100x Battle or 333x Battle during a Splatfest. When this happens, the following is displayed:

One or more players disconnected shortly after the battle began. Disconnected players will be assigned a loss, but the battle will not count for players who remained connected.

If a player disconnected mid-match, the match will count as a draw for all players on the losing team that remained connected, regardless of when the disconnect occurred. However, a bug in the Splatoon 3 Splatfest World Premiere demo and Version 1.1.0 prevented said players from earning rewards, though Catalog XP would still be awarded. In the case of 100x Battles and 333x Battles, the losing team will also retain their Festival shells, allowing said players to have another chance at winning either one.

Despite this, while playing as a group in Anarchy Battle (Open) or a Challenge, the match will count as a loss should one or more players in their group disconnect during a match, likely to prevent their other friends from retaining their power level; additionally, a different message is displayed in the event it happened during the first minute.[1] Players not affected by the disconnect will not get timed out, however.

Like in its predecessor, in Salmon Run Next Wave, the Golden Egg quota re-balances itself to accommodate for fewer players, with half the normal pay cut being received for losing in Wave 1 or 2. Additionally, if a disconnect occurs during an Xtrawave, the King Salmonid's HP will be reduced by (1 / n + 1) of its current amount, with n representing the number of players that are still connected.

Another bug treats player's disconnects as regular disconnects, but does not give a penalty of 10 minutes.

Occasionally, a completed match in Splatoon 3 may fail to save properly to certain players, flagging their match as if they had disconnected, but would still earn Catalog XP. This can be indicated by the delay that occurs during results before the "Game saved!" indicator appears on the bottom left corner of the screen.


The yellow team has an icon for a disconnected player (on the right) and a splatted player (on the left).
The icon for a disconnected player in Salmon Run (on the right) and a splatted player (on the left).

When a player disconnects, the post-match scoreboard shows them with 0p of turf inked (unless the game ended in a draw in Splatoon 3), excluding any win bonuses. However, their correct number of splats, specials, and deaths is still displayed. In-match, players who disconnect disappear in a puff of smoke and do not respawn. In Salmon Run, the disconnected player's character is completely absent from the results screen.

In Splatoon, the player that got disconnected shows in the user interface as being permanently splatted, having a dark squid icon with crossed-out eyes. In Splatoon 2, the disconnected player has an X over their icon while their weapon remains colored instead of being grayed out like it normally would be. In Salmon Run, the disconnected player has a gray blank icon, while a splatted player has an Icon matching a disconnected player in other modes. In Splatoon 3 a disconnected player has a completely blacked-out icon, with nothing on it. In addition, their splats and deaths will not be displayed on the results screen.

If the host disconnects during a Private Battle, the match will automatically end for all other players without penalty.


A player received a 200-minute disconnect penalty in Splatoon 3.

Like most online multiplayer games, in Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3, receiving multiple disconnects in a short amount of time may temporarily prevent players from starting new matches for a certain period of time, with the first couple of disconnections yielding a warning message when attempting to join a match.

After multiple disconnections, the player is temporarily blocked from online play, with the timer starting at five minutes in Splatoon 2, or ten minutes in Splatoon 3. If frequent disconnects continue to occur, the ban timer may get extended to 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or even longer; if it gets long enough, the game may display the date and time they can play online again instead.

Players will automatically receive a ban if the mid-match disconnect was intentional (i.e. Nintendo Switch system set to sleep, the game being shut off, or when disconnected by idling), or if the game crashed unexpectedly before then.

Players can report others for disconnecting using SplatNet 2 or via the Lobby Terminal in Splatoon 3, and said players may be suspended from using said game's online services for two weeks, with the following displayed:

The use of online services for this software is currently restricted on this console.
— Nintendo Switch error 2124-4607

Players can also get timed out in Splatoon 3 if they were disconnected during a match whenever a server outage affecting all NPLN supported games occurs, although it's rare and still counts as an unintentional disconnect. The ban only lasts until Nintendo completes server maintenance to address the server outage.

Solving the problem

An official LAN adapter for wired internet access.

Any form of a networking issue may result in a communications error. Problems may occur on the user's end, such as wireless interference or lack of available bandwidth due to other devices on the network; problems may also be due to outages or disruptions at the level of an Internet Service Provider.

If receiving communications errors while playing the Splatoon series online, it is advised to close high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming services or large file downloads.

The use of a wired LAN adapter is the most effective way to improve the connection and thus reduce the chance of communications errors. Nintendo sells an official Wired Internet LAN Adapter and third parties sell functionally identical adapters that are compatible with Nintendo consoles. Nintendo Switch consoles (except for the Nintendo Switch Lite) are also compatible with the Nintendo Switch OLED dock, which comes with built-in Ethernet support. If a wired access point is not near the console, it is still possible to obtain a wired connection by using powerline Ethernet adapters[2] to add a wired access point nearby.

There are several ways to improve wireless connections. The most effective way is to switch to a 5 GHz WiFi band. The 5 GHz band is available on all relatively recently made home wireless routers. The 5 GHz band allows for a faster, more stable connection than the other WiFi band, 2.4 GHz. The 5 GHz band may need to be enabled in the router's configuration menu, and once enabled, the WiFi password may need to be re-entered on the console. Ensuring a NAT type of A or B may improve wireless connections because this essentially indicates a status of allowing incoming connections to reach the device without being blocked by security measures. The option to change the NAT type should be available in the wireless router's configuration menu.

Splatoon 3 currently has a bug that can randomly force the Nintendo Switch to disconnect from the player's Internet connection; this issue can be prevented by using a cellular network connection over a mobile hotspot.

Side effects

The "connection is unstable" message in Splatoon.
  • Delay in ink appearing on the stage.
  • Lagging or teleporting players.
    • Frozen players.
  • Players displayed as being splatted by far-away opponents.
  • Delayed "Splatted" message after splatting a player.
  • "The connection is unstable." message.
    • When this message appears on players' screens during a match, players cannot move. Animations, such as firing weapons, may continue to play. Any players that are on Inkrails will also be automatically switched into kid form, therefore causing the player to fall off the Inkrail.
    • In Splatoon 2, a disconnect that occurs after "The connection is unstable" message often occurs in the following manner, from the view of a disconnected player, all other players will disconnect except for one. The remaining player will be frozen in an animation loop, and cannot be splatted. The disconnected player can still walk around the stage for a short while before they are booted back to the lobby.


  • If the console loses internet connection completely, players are taken back to Inkopolis or Splatsville rather than the lobby or Grizzco Industries. In Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3, they receive an automatic block when available if it occurred mid-match.
  • At the beginning of a match, the camera may pan across the map repeatedly, indicative of a player with a bad connection or an imminent communications error.



A communication error in the lobby in Splatoon 2.
  • Early in Splatoon's lifespan, a bug made Tenacity activate and build special points before gaining control of one's character if a teammate disconnected before the match started. This issue was fixed in Version 2.0.0; it now only activates as soon as the player gains control. (Tenacity will still activate mid-match if there is a player deficit because of a disconnected player).
  • It is possible to disconnect even if the internet quality is good. Players who are away from their controllers for sixty seconds automatically disconnect.
    • Splatoon 2 and Splatoon 3 both recognize this as an intentional disconnect and thus will force an automatic ban when available. In the latter, since online play data is tied to the associated Nintendo Account, the "Game saved!" indicator does not appear on the bottom left of the screen.
  • Sometimes, if the player is still in the lobby and is on other networks (for example, on the Wii U Internet Browser or the Nintendo Switch Album), the communication error message appears.
  • There used to be a bug in Splatoon 3 where the game may crash when receiving a communication error during Salmon Run matchmaking[3] or when attempting to reconnect to the Internet via Grizzco Industries after a loss of connection to the server during a shift,[4] but was patched in Version 2.0.0 without being listed in the patch notes.

Names in other languages

Language Name Meaning
Japan Japanese 通信エラー
Tsūshin Erā
Communication Error
CanadaFrance French Erreur de communication Communication Error
Germany German Kommunikationsfehler Communication Error
Italy Italian Errore di comunicazione Communication Error
Russia Russian Ошибка связи
Oshibka svyazi
Communication error
Spain Spanish (NOE) Error de conexión Connection Error
China Chinese (Simplified) 连接错误
Liánjiē cuòwù
Connection Error
South Korea Korean 통신 에러
Tongsin Ereo
Communication Error

See also