I previously talked about what Nintendo needs to do to become more competitive, especially with the Switch online component. Now the company has announced pricing and release info for their new online subscription tier and I am once again saying Nintendo Switch Online still isn’t worth it.
The initial breakdown for the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription tier is $49.99 for the entire year, or roughly $4.15 a month compared to the standard $19.99 subscription for 12 months, which boils down to $1.66 a month.
Key differences between the standard Nintendo Switch Online and this new Expansion Pack tier is the new N64 games, Sega Genesis games, and the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise DLC. Online play, NES and SNES games, cloud storage for saves, smartphone app usage, and special offers apply to both tiers.
Even an initial glance at the offerings above has me immediately come back to my initial point: Nintendo Switch Online still isn’t worth it. If you compare what Nintendo is offering and what is included to competitors at Sony and especially Microsoft, it’s absurd to think you should pay for the service.
My previous editorial suggested the following new things from Nintendo:
- A more flexible user account system
- An achievement or trophy system
- Some kind of video streaming option
- Built-in voice chat at the Switch OS level
- A party chat or party system
None of the above things are included in the new premium Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription, but are included in the $59.99/year subscription for PlayStation Plus, or the $59.99/year subscription for Xbox Live Gold.
Furthermore, you get regular discounts on games on those platform stores, as well as free games every month. Nintendo can’t promise this. An ongoing demand Nintendo fans (including myself) have had is why Nintendo isn’t aggressively re-releasing their older titles. Instead, they’re sporadically releasing classic games every so often, but only for their online subscriptions.
Why should a Switch owner pony up for an online subscription when they aren’t even guaranteed discounts or new games every month? To compare this to say, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, is absurd. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate not only gets you the full online feature suite, but also monthly discounts, free games, and games on Xbox Game Pass.
This combines Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass to one subscription for $15 a month – saving you $5 off both subs and getting you monthly discounts and free games. While this may be steep for some, even the basic Xbox Live Gold for $59.99/year still gets you more value with monthly discounts and free games (which you can keep even after nixing your sub, unlike PlayStation).
While Sony can’t really compete with Xbox Game Pass via their own game subscription PlayStation Now, you still get regular discounts and free games every month having a PlayStation Plus subscription. Also, both Sony and Microsoft’s online suite are finally comparable to what PC gamers have been enjoying for ages, as both platforms have been adding to their services.
Frivolous things like group chat, group voice chat, video streaming, and the controversial achievements/trophies have been a staple of the modern online gaming suite for years. Even if you do not care for these things, paying for a service that doesn’t at least offer feature parity/benefits to its competitors is silly. It’s wasted money, and you need to speak with your wallet.
When Microsoft tried to increase the pricing on their main Xbox Live Gold subscription, fans were understandably outraged. Microsoft quickly retracted the proposed price hike literally the next day, and apologized. If enough fans speak with their wallets – threaten to stop buying or supporting something, companies will listen.
Another good example of how actually insane the gap between Nintendo Switch Online and its competitors has become is the increasingly bigger list of backwards compatible games on Xbox, which Microsoft has been dumping more truckloads of cash into. While this may not be feasible for older physical Nintendo games, why not digital games from the Wii onwards?
It’s probably impossible for Nintendo to make previous digital purchases from the Wii through Wii U available on Switch, but I know fans would gladly re-buy them on Switch if they were available. Nintendo has a massive roster of great, classic games – if only they’d actually catalog and re-release them on the new eShop.
I know personally there are a bunch of classic Xbox and Xbox 360 games that I may not have really cared for but – hey if it’s free I’ll download it. Also, their near-weekly sales have made it very hard to resist buying games for literally a couple dollars. Did I need the entire Dead Rising trilogy? No, but if each one is only a couple dollars, that’s hard to pass up.
One thing I want to leave with is that the online performance for Nintendo Switch Online has been, at best, tolerable and maybe functional and at worst literally unplayable. It’s the conundrum of the handheld not having the same guts as its competitors, and yet Smash Bros. diehards will tell me everything is fine. Even Animal Crossing has latency issues, and that’s bad.
If you want Nintendo to finally make their online subscription worthwhile, let them know it. Cancel your subscription if you haven’t already – I did months ago and I haven’t missed it. While I don’t play games online often, I do enjoy monthly discounts and free games, which is rarely supported on Switch. I just want feature parity before I support yet another subscription service.
Nintendo has made it clear that they can just magically turn things on and they can make things happen that the Switch didn’t ship with – like the hilariously late Bluetooth functionality being turned on. This was done over four years after the console was released folks. You still can’t send direct messages to other users from within the Switch OS.
I sincerely, truly want the Switch to be as best as it can be – I love the little device. However, I simply can’t support its online suite and subscription as it’s simply not worth it, nor are the fans getting what they deserve. Or, you can just be a PC gamer and get all of these things for free.
This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.