After a blissful year-and-a-half of free online service, Nintendo launched their paid plan last week to a relatively positive reaction from its user base. However, NYU students and fans of the system have expressed their disappointment with the first iteration of the service — called Nintendo Switch Online — citing it to be yet another example of the company’s disconnect with their fans.
The video game company now joins the ranks of Sony and Microsoft, both of which have their own paid online services for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One platforms. Up until this point, Nintendo has always made the online capabilities of their systems free to use. With that edge gone, some NYU students now see Nintendo’s online service with less enthusiasm.
“Now that Nintendo’s kind of caught up with what they’re doing, it’s a shame they’re not at the level of the competition,” Croft said. “They’ve seen the competition for years and then entered the game losing.”
Gallatin sophomore Chase Croft also remarked on Nintendo’s outdated way of reaching its competition and offering new features to appeal to its young audience.
“I always think they kind of handle it like a grandpa,” Croft said. “They’re kind of outdated in the way they go about things. Sometimes they’re ahead of the curve. I think the Switch is pretty darn innovative, the Wii was pretty innovative, but a lot of the time, they’re a bit too conservative on things, especially something that involves modern youth culture.”
In addition to Nintendo’s late entrance to the online-gaming sphere, the service has a severe lack of features and capabilities. For instance, when the online subscription ends, a user’s data will be immediately deleted. Yet fans have noted that the service is relatively cheaper than other consoles’ counterparts.
“I would prefer not to pay for it but I understand every company is kind of progressing toward it,” Tandon first-year Gavin Singer said. “I’m just glad they didn’t charge more than $20, because more than $20 would be absurd.”
Aside from the price, Nintendo Switch Online marks the formal introduction of retro games from Nintendo’s backlog, a service that fans have clamored for on Nintendo Switch since the console’s release. Through the service, a user can access each available retro game and easily switch between them with added online multiplayer capabilities. However, to retain access to the online games, a user needs to log in weekly, which forces an unnecessary requirement onto paying subscribers.
“At first, I thought it was stupid because you can kind of run them on emulators, although that’s not 100 percent legal,” CAS senior Michael Han said. “I really want a Gamecube or [Nintendo] 64 virtual stores, but they’re not quite there and I think it’s just not quite enough as I would like it to be.”
Marc Lifson, a CAS sophomore, noted his frustration about not being able to purchase the system’s retro games individually.
“I don’t like the idea of having your entire library tethered to a subscription,” Lifson said. “I would honestly rather they get rid of that and bring back Virtual Console so that I can pay for the specific games that I want and be able to keep them forever. What’s going to happen when Nintendo Switch gets outdated and there’s the next system? They take down the online services like with the [Nintendo] DS and then you can’t play those games anymore.”
With “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” arriving in December and “Splatoon 2” still receiving updates, players are putting aside their misgivings with the online service in order so they can play these games online. But some students have said that as it stands, the online service is not worth the plunge if you don’t play these games.
“If you aren’t playing ‘Splatoon 2’ or ‘Smash Bros.,’ you’re getting your money stolen,” Singer said.
Though Nintendo’s launch of its online service is a contender with other similar platforms in terms of price, there is still substantial room for improvement if Nintendo wants to live up to and exceed the services already offered by competitors like Playstation and Xbox.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 24 print edition. Email Ethan Zack at [email protected]