The Virtual Console Is Dead, Long Live The Virtual Console!
Early today Nintendo finally announced concrete details about the anticipated paid subscription service that has been promised for some time. While not everything is clear, we finally have information on pricing and the previously mentioned monthly subscription based games that will be included.
As of September, member’s of the Nintendo Switch Online service will be privy to;
Online Play – Access to online features in games will now seemingly only be included for those paying the premium price.
NES Games – The service is launching with 20 NES games to download and play at no additional cost, with additional games to be added in the future.
Save Data Cloud Backup – Users will now be able to secure their save data for Switch titles not just on the system itself, alleviating concerns over losing data to broken units or system failures.
Nintendo Switch Online App – A dedicated app to add additional features and give data on particular games whilst linked to your Switch & My Nintendo account.
Exclusive Offers – Discounts & certain software may be made available only to members of the paid online service.
Pricing has also been detailed as such, 1 Month / £3.49 (€3.99), 3 Months / £6.99 (€7.99), 12 Months / £17.99 (€19.99).
Along with this, Nintendo has confirmed (via Kotaku) that the previous service providing access to their rich back catalogue, the Virtual Console, will not be returning with a Nintendo representative saying,
“There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.”
Whilst this move can come across as frustrating for fans expecting the Switch to relive the glory days of the Wii in terms of giving new life to old titles, Nintendo is in no rush to do so with the Nintendo Switch being a runaway success for several indie titles, whilst it’s own physical retro consoles are also consistently sold out across the world.
The inevitable Gameboy Mini Classic and Nintendo 64 Mini Classic will sell through the roof, with the nostalgia for the form factors being a huge selling point, meanwhile the Nintendo Switch is capable of handling some of the latest AAA games to hit shelves whilst also helping smaller indie titles gain success with an audience looking for bite sized games to work through on small journeys or when they’re waiting for the next big release.
Personally I’ve poured over 130 hours into Stardew Valley, mainly due the form portability of the Nintendo Switch as well as the relaxing and easily remembered gameplay of the title. Nintendo wouldn’t be helping any of these smaller titles if it were to flood the eShop with classic titles, suddenly these smaller titles would be competing with the likes of ‘A Link To The Past’ or ‘Super Mario World’ and then that little bit of money you have to spend is less likely to be risked on a game you haven’t played before that could have turned out to be a gem.
A subscription service for the dedicated fans is a smart move, with later generations of games assured to arrive in time. Whilst frustrating for fans clamoring to relive childhood memories on their shiny new Nintendo machine, or just finally have portable Nintendo 64 titles, it’s a good way to place a clear divide between the two markets whilst allowing both to be easily available to those who want them.
Pricing for the Nintendo Switch Online is also below both Microsoft and Sony for their online subscription service, yet it remains to be seen if what Nintendo is offering justifies it. Yet when compared to Playstation Plus & Games With Gold, whilst Nintendo fans won’t be given access to AAA titles from previous years or more recent indies, the trade off for access to Nintendo’s back catalogue certainly seems fair. No other company has a legacy like Nintendo when it comes to their own video games, so it seems they know this and are finally capitalizing on it in the most sensible way for new consumers and fans alike.