The Nintendo Switch Online service has recently reached a total of 10 million subscribers. The service, similar in nature to Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold, launched less than one year ago in September of 2018 and is required to play most games online, with a few notable exceptions like Fortnite and Warframe.
While the number appears impressive, we must keep in mind that as of February 2019, PlayStation Plus could boast a total of 36 million members, while Microsoft does not list the numbers officially, but there are over 63 million users listed as active at one point or another. At its annual shareholders meeting, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa spoke about the prevalence of subscription gaming services in the market today, and that the company should look to “further enrich these sorts of services in the future.” So what exactly might that mean?
This is the real question, since right now the Nintendo Switch Online service has faced some criticisms since launching. One such critique is that the paid service feels like a stripped-down, basic version of what Sony and Microsoft offer, even when taking into consideration the lower price of Nintendo’s offering.
When the service was first announced, some players were upset that what has been free for years is suddenly now costing additional money to access in the form of online content and multiplayer. As stated, the requirement to pay for the Online service does not extend to every game, such as Fortnite and Warframe.
Interestingly, this means that a player can have a Nintendo Switch, download those games for free, and play them online with friends at no extra cost, while someone who wants to play Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will first need to purchase the game and then also pay an ongoing cost for the Online service. One could understand why a player may balk at the initial offering.
The Online service does also provide access to retro NES games, and for some that is a wonderful addition. There is also the distinct possibility of that library expanding to games from Nintendo consoles like the SNES or the GameCube, even though for now the company has given no formal acknowledgement of this, “We cannot provide any new information about how or in what form software developed for past platforms will be delivered to consumers in the future, but we are currently offering Nintendo Entertainment System titles as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service.”
Still, one wonders what lies ahead for the Online service, because if the answer is simply a slowly expanding NES library, many may find it lacking to justify its costs. However, if the norm is to insist that online be paid for to enjoy all the other multiplayer games on the Switch, and the price remains reasonable, the issue is likely to be nonexistent. However, if the price starts increasing without some notable benefit added, one could picture players becoming frustrated and dropping the service altogether.