It seems like Nintendo has recognized the effect that Tetris 99 had when it was launched and how it prompted a surge of subscribers to the Nintendo Switch Online service, so more exclusive games might be coming.
The Nintendo Switch is the first Nintendo system to require a paid subscription in order to use its online services (unless the Japan-exclusive Satellaview is counted), which offers games to its subscribers. PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold offer recently made games to their subscribers, while Nintendo Switch Online currently only offers old Nintendo Entertainment System games that are slowly doled out each month.
The one truly exclusive game to the Nintendo Switch Online service is Tetris 99, which brings the battle royale genre to Tetris, with ninety-nine players competing against each other at once in order to claim victory. Tetris 99 turned out to be a huge hit with critics and fans alike, with many of them citing the game as the best reason to own a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
The popularity of Tetris 99 hasn't gone unnoticed by Nintendo. The game's success was mentioned during Nintendo's recent annual Fiscal Year conference, where company president Shuntaro Furukawa fielded questions from shareholders about the direction of Nintendo going forward.
Q: The number of accounts with Nintendo Switch Online memberships has reached 9.8 million, but are there people coming and going? For example, are people joining to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Splatoon 2 and then canceling their memberships, or joining just to play TETRIS® 99? Or, have most of them continued to be members once they have joined? I would like more details about the growth in account numbers.
Furukawa: We recognize that the number of accounts that have subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online is increasing steadily corresponding to the pace that the hardware install base is growing. Naturally, not everyone remains a member, and there are cases where users joined during the holiday season and then canceled after three months. There are also new members who joined after TETRIS® 99 was released in February as an exclusive game for Nintendo Switch Online members, and others who have remained members because of TETRIS® 99. To expand Nintendo Switch Online even further, we need to continue offering elements like this, that highlight the distinct value of Nintendo Switch Online.
Furukawa is suggesting that other exclusive titles might be coming to the service in the future in order to make it appealing to new Switch owners and to keep them around for as long as possible.
The Nintendo Switch is likely to see a surge in sales by the end of 2019, due to the release of a new Animal Crossing game and Pokémon Sword & Shield, so it would make sense for more exclusive titles to come to the Nintendo Switch Online service in order to capitalize on the new audience. Nintendo could also just release more of their old games onto the service in order to make it viable, instead of dumping old Famicom titles onto the service, but that doesn't seem to be on the cards just yet.