By Melvin Taylor, Brand Marketer
Nintendo Switch is a revolutionary system that combines console and handheld level gaming into one device. For the past year, the Nintendo Switch Online features have been free. These features included playing games online with other players, using microphone chat in the Nintendo Switch Online app for Splatoon 2, downloading games, getting news updates and more. After two delays, the Nintendo Switch Online finally launched on Sept. 18 to mixed reactions.
Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription service like Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live.
According to Nintendo, “The paid service lets you take your gaming up a notch with online multiplayer and exclusive benefits. Standard online features such as system and game updates will be free-for-all Nintendo Switch users.”
The features offered exclusively to Nintendo Switch Online are online gameplay, classic Nintendo Entertainment System games with online, the Nintendo Switch Online app, cloud saving and special offers. Free-to-play games such as Fortnite and Paladins can be played without purchasing the online service. There are various payment plans but the most important is the payment plan for 12 months. It is offered for $20 for one person. It is also offered for $35, allowing users to add eight family members or friends to it. There is also a seven-day trial to test out the online.
I have seen lots of reactions to Nintendo Switch Online. Some gamers are fully supporting it while others have called out Nintendo for it. I think the main issue comes from the online services not launching with the system in 2017. It has been over a year since Nintendo Switch launched and gamers got comfortable with the free online service. This issue can go even further into the past since this is the first time that Nintendo has done a subscription service while competitors Sony and Microsoft have been doing this for years. While Nintendo Switch Online is cheaper compared to those services, it does not offer the same features, which has led to criticism.
Sony and Microsoft offer free games that are more modern while Nintendo offers 30-year-old games that fans have had access to on a variety of systems. Nintendo’s game sharing feature allows users to share their games with each other, but the account that purchased the games must be the one playing it. This offers less freedom than game sharing on the PlayStation 4 which allows all users connected to play games on their own accounts. Nintendo also made it so nonprimary users must be connected to the internet to play games from the primary console. While the game sharing feature is a great step forward for Nintendo, they still can improve it.
Currently, I do not want to purchase Nintendo Switch Online. I own Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle which are single player games. Fortnite takes up most of my Nintendo Switch gaming time because it is a free multiplayer game that offers new features all the time. Fortnite is also not linked to the Nintendo Switch Online service, giving me less of a reason to pay for it. Outside of Fortnite, I was not using Nintendo’s online in the first place. The first party multiplayer titles currently offered by Nintendo are not enticing enough to pay for the Nintendo Switch Online.
Nintendo is using 30-year-old NES games to advertise their service and it’s not enough. I already own some of these titles on my Nintendo 3DS because they provided them for free after purchasing the system. I think these games would have been fine bonuses if they were in addition to something with more depth to it. I would have loved to have seen Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, or even Nintendo Wii titles being offered with the online. As someone who has never owned a Nintendo 64 or GameCube, these games would have been great bonuses for me.
Nintendo has also linked microphone chat to the Nintendo Switch Online app which is another idea that is not completely bad but could be improved. I am fine with microphone chat being on the app, but I think it should also be on the Nintendo Switch console. Fortnite proved this is not an issue as it offers this feature. Users just have to plug in headphones with a microphone into the Switch and they can chat with other online players. The app also has no messaging system which just seems off.
This is just my theory, but Nintendo launched their online service suspiciously close to Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These three games launch Nov. 16 and Dec. 7 respectively. Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. are two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. The online may not have the best reception right now, but I guarantee people will pay for it to play some of their favorite titles online with friends, family and strangers alike.