Nintendo Switch Online – The Calm Before the Storm

A long, long time ago in a generation almost near forgotten, Microsoft decided to implement a paid subscription service for the Xbox titled Xbox Live. It was met with trepidation and anger. The PC offered online play for free and even the doomed Dreamcast had a fairly robust free online system for its time. Fast forward 16 years and we see Nintendo are soon to follow suit and get in on the money pie that is the online subscription service.

Of course this news sparked outrage among some fans. Some issues being totally justified whilst others being unnaturally prolonged. I mean, the service was announced at the unveiling of the system, to not be settled with the fact you have to pay for online on the Switch by now, is a little odd. Make no mistake paying for online does suck, but there could a be a silver lining  to the whole situation.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It is no secret that Nintendo for the most part have struggled with online. Whether that is by incompetence or just reluctance, I can’t say for sure. The most bizarre thing about the Nintendo Switch though is that it seems to have taken a few steps back from the Wii U. The eShop is a mess and there seems to be no sign of any compatibility with 3rd party streaming services outside Hulu. For these reasons people just aren’t that confident with the level of service Nintendo may offer. It doesn’t help that to implement voice chat and other common features on other systems they tried to reinvent the wheel by offering an app that so far has only supported Splatoon 2 and totally bombed.

So after being on the market for nearly a year and a half Nintendo have been eerily silent about their subscription service. Even delaying it by quite a large chunk of time. A direct to advertise the service seems inevitable and I am hoping for some good news to reach us. For as incompetent as they are with their online systems they do have potential to knock one out of the park.

Classic Games with New Features

The most exciting feature that could make this whole subscription worth paying for is their regular old games added with added features like online multiplayer. The major issue at the moment is that they’ve only mentioned NES titles. Now the NES has some great games, but in terms of online multiplayer? Not so much. With such a grand wealth of old titles and the Virtual Console having vanished the prospect of Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros, and even Goldeneye with online multiplayer sounds like a dream come true. The question is will Nintendo even add N64 games? And if they do, how long will it take them to hit the service?

Discounts and the Family Membership

Another bit of good news concerning the subscription was that there would be exclusive discounts for members and that is something that is always welcomed. Afterall it seems like the Nintendo Switch really is an indie dream machine. To tie in with the savings it was nice to see Nintendo announce a family membership which could make the yearly subscription cost next to nothing if 8 people pay together.

My Thoughts

All in all their track record with online has been poor, there is just no denying that. However trying to see the bright side there does remain a large amount potential in this service. Paying to play online sucks and having to cough up for cloud saves does as well, but I just can’t shake my hope of jumping back into Mario Kart 64 and racing players from around the world. From every angle I take I find myself trying to remain cautiously optimistic. For as much as their is a chance for SNES, GBA, and N64 titles to make their way to the Switch there is that great possibility of it being just NES games for years on end.

With the service going live soon though, Nintendo can’t afford to stay silent for much longer and we should at least learn of the 10 other NES games. Customer satisfaction is deeply important and hopefully Nintendo realize they have to up their game and not just offer the bare minimum to make a quick buck off of their consumers.

My crackpot hope is that they will announce Banjo Kazooie for day one of the subscription and end with him getting into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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