IN THE NEWS: Nintendo Draws Backlash Over Online Expansion

Nintendo had to have seen this coming. The company decided to expand its Nintendo Switch Online platform by adding another tier that included Animal Crossing DLC, as well as a selection of Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis titles. This represents a $30 difference in the annual cost of the service for those who choose to move to the expanded tier. And while Nintendo Switch Online’s service has previously focused on providing a nostalgic game streaming experience for gamers with a selection of Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System games, the experience has been mediocre. The emulation used for the games is very basic. As I browsed through the game selection, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there should be many more titles on the service. Lots of third-party games are missing, which although it would have cost Nintendo more money to include, would have done wonders for the platform.

For $30 more ($19.99 to $49.99/year), you’re basically getting 14 SEGA Genesis games and nine Nintendo 64 games. What’s worse is that the Nintendo 64 games have not been working properly since the expansion rollout. There’s been everything from graphical glitches to controller lag issues. For something where a company is asking people to pay more than double the price, there’s no excuse for these issues. Nintendo is in a position where it needs to be careful because although its Switch sales are driving some of the best revenue the company has ever seen, I’m getting the sense that the gaming organization is getting a bit too comfortable. Nintendo Switch Online is a prime example of sloppy execution and a lack of inspiration. It should be much more than what it is.

YouTuber Yong Yea has been covering the Nintendo Switch Online expansion on his channel for the past two weeks.

It may sound like I’m being harsh towards Nintendo, but understand that this is coming from someone who has largely supported Nintendo consoles from childhood. And even before the NES, I was playing Nintendo-based games such as Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros. in the arcades. So as a consumer and even as a fan, Nintendo and I go way back. I preferred the Super Nintendo to the SEGA Genesis, put a multitude of hours into the Nintendo 64, and was one of the people who invested in the now defunct Wii U. Nintendo is a company that I’ve always wanted to see succeed, especially since many of my most cherished gaming moments took place on their platforms.

The truth of the matter is that Nintendo Switch Online needs an overhaul. Its game library is lackluster and an insult to the expansive library that Nintendo has amassed over the years. And I’m talking just the first-party and Nintendo exclusives alone. They can pull games from GameCube, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, and Wii U. The emulation is passable, but not only the level with fan-made emulators that you can find online. It’s a shame that Nintendo did not take more time to really make this service as great as it could be because I’ve always known the company to take pride in creating quality products.

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The above list of games represents most of the choices for NES games on Nintendo Switch Online.

As I view the above list, I’m astonished at the omissions. There wasn’t a spot for games like BatmanContraBases Loaded, or Double Dribble? Some of the games on the list are ones I’ve never heard of before. On the Super Nintendo side, no Final FightTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, or Super Star Wars. I’m just bringing up random games, but they would have been a much better fit for the service. In my opinion, the Nintendo Switch Online library is lacking in both quantity and quality. The argument could be made that both the standard ($1.67/month) and the expanded ($4.17/month) tiers are inexpensive. This is true. Then if there are going to be a limited number of games within the service, the selection of games should be better. And to be honest, I speculate that many of Nintendo’s customers would gladly pay more money with a higher quality library. Especially when it comes to first-party titles, Nintendo is one of the most expensive consoles to buy games on. Yet sales are very strong for the company’s first-party library. Games like Super Mario Odyssey that have been out for four years still cost $59.99. 

Hopefully, 2022 will be a more interesting year for the Nintendo Switch. It’s the one system that I would love to purchase more games for and support, but I haven’t felt like Nintendo has given me much in 2021. Metroid Dread looks like it may be worth a try though. But when it comes down to games that I can also play on PC or my PS4 Pro, I choose those platforms because the graphics and the framerate are superior. I’m thrilled that Nintendo turned around its misfortunes with the Wii U and more than made up for it with the Switch. But even with its success, I know in my heart that Nintendo can do better. Improving its Nintendo Switch Online service would be a wonderful start.


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