When Nintendo first announced that their newest console, the Switch, would feature a paid subscription service for its online features – in contrast to the reassuringly free-of-charge Nintendo WiFi Connection and Nintendo Network from days past – reactions were… mixed. Some folks online sighed with irritation, but begrudgingly accepted the change as a sign of the times; after all, Sony and Microsoft had set the precedent far earlier than holdout Nintendo. Others, however, harboured abject outrage, arguing that prior online facilities from the company had done nothing to demonstrate they were worth paying for. Indeed, for as much as I have nostalgia for the days of Wii and DS online, I also recall long download times and lag/stuttering during various games. Now, with no evidence they were looking to improve the stability, Ninty were suddenly charging for it? Bit of a misstep.
To make the Switch, or not make the Switch?
To this day, debates as to whether Switch Online represents value for money rage on. Especially given that the service was offered por gratis for over a year after the console’s launch, only for it to be ripped out from under unsuspecting players in summer 2018, many were soured on the concept from the start. Granted, Nintendo have added a few bells and whistles since, like a Virtual Console-esque library of retro titles, but it’s not difficult to come across people who’ll actively warn you, in sandwich-board-toting fashion, against paying up. This is all to say nothing of the bizarre addition of the ‘Online Expansion Pass’, which is a whole ‘nother can of wriggling invertebrates.
Former Nintendo employee speaks out
However, it isn’t just gamers and fans themselves who question the financial viability (to both the company and the consumer) of Switch Online. As EssentiallySports report, former Nintendo employee Kit Ellis – who you may recognise from the defunct Nintendo Minute series – has conducted a podcast interview. He, erm… does not have the kindest things to say about the service.
In the podcast, Kit condemns Nintendo’s “ongoing strategy of still constantly offering old games to the players.” He states the company “seems to have no actual plan of what to do” about its online platform. Though he acknowledges the lineup of classic games available to subscribers has been “quite good,” the overall direction the service, and the Expansion Pass, are taking is “quite weird and not very impressive,” in his words.
To drive home his point and express his frustration about what he perceives as Nintendo “stumbling about (…) and having no real perks to offer fans,” beyond old games, he draws an unfavourable comparison with SEGA, who enthusiasts will know also offer a selection of Genesis titles on the platform. “I get worried about where they added Nintendo 64 and Genesis – it’s like, what is the plan? I almost have more confidence in SEGA to deliver their best Genesis stuff, than I do with the other platforms.”
The whole Kit and caboodle
Kit signs off by concluding that Nintendo need to be more open with what consumers are actually getting for their investment in the service, and what’s coming next for the Expansion Pass’ roadmap. He says, “I think that it would help a lot if they were just a bit more transparent about what the plan is for each of these tiers.”
Personally, I’ve had Switch Online bought for me a couple Christmases in a row now. I can’t necessarily testify as to the value of money it represents; I do know I’ve been booted from one too many sessions of Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2 and (most recently) Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece for comfort. Make of that what you will.
How about you guys? What’s your take on Kit’s analysis, and what’s your own opinion on Switch Online? Let us know!