If there is one feature that Nintendo has been asked constantly to bring over to the Switch, it’s definitely the Virtual Console.
The retro game service has been a big deal to a lot of Nintendo fans ever since it got its start on the original Wii. After the release of the Switch, it was expected that the service would make its way over fairly quickly considering its popularity. But, clearly, that never happened. Nintendo has now moved on from the VC era, as confirmed by Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime during a recent interview with IGN.
According to Reggie, Nintendo considers the upcoming Switch Online service to be the successor to Virtual Console. Switch Online is Nintendo’s new subscription-based network service, similar to that of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. One of its features will be to supply select free NES titles to subscribers. These titles have also been upgraded to support online multiplayer. Nintendo has not yet mentioned specifically if the catalog will be expanded to include other retro systems like the SNES, GameBoy, N64, and the heavily-requested Gamecube, but Mr. Fils-Aime did say that the number of games will “increase over time”| Here’s Reggie’s full statement:
“The Virtual Console successor is Nintendo Switch Online, right? With the mentality that says we’re going to be offering a slate of games, and it’s a slate that’s going to increase over time. For many of these games, there’s going to be additional online capability provided in those games. That’s the vision we have for how to best bring our legacy content to Nintendo Switch.”
The Nintendo Switch Online service will be launching in September and will cost $20 for an annual membership. Monthly memberships will be $4. These prices are quite reasonable when compared to most other subscription-based services, including the aforementioned Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Of course, there’s still the question of how many subscribers the service will actually end up generating. Reggie was able to comment on that, too. It’s due to the cheaper pricing, along with the features that Switch Online will have (like cloud saves) that Nintendo believes that subscribers will be lining up. According to Reggie, the company doesn’t believe that attracting new customers will be a problem:
“We do [believe people will subscribe], and I say that because what we’ve laid out is a proposition where, yes you get the competitive play accessibility, you also get the cloud save, and you get access to the legacy content. That’s a fantastic proposition for $20 a year. We believe that it’s not going to be any type of issue for us. In fact, it’s going to enable us to continue offering a varied slate of opportunities from an online experience standpoint.”
Personally, I’m not too blown away by what Switch Online has to offer aside from cloud-save functionality finally coming to the system. But, it’s the cheap price that’s keeping me from grumbling too much. With that being the case, although it may come off as being a bit too overconfident, I guess Reggie’s point about Nintendo thinking that attracting subscribers is “not going to be any type of issue” is totally right. While many console gamers, myself included, do feel annoyed with the whole idea of paying for online services on top of already paying to have an Internet connection at all, $20 a year/$4 per month really isn’t that big of an expense. Thus, even if there are people who are caught off-guard by the change come September, they’ll likely sign-up anyway. Of course, time will ultimately tell what the adoption rate truly ends up being. If Switch sales continue to remain strong throughout the year and Nintendo makes the messaging of Switch Online clear to the more casual consumers, then it should turn out to be successful.
One thing I can say, if the selection of Switch Online retro titles is expanded to include games from other systems, retro fans will definitely be even more likely to take the plunge.