A few days ago, Nintendo revealed various additional details about the Nintendo Switch Online service. Including various features like voice chat, save backups and video game subscriptions, the service is meant to bring Nintendo’s online infrastructure into the 21st century, as well as offer something comparable to Microsoft and Sony’s affairs in the same space.
It’s an ambitious task for sure, but have Nintendo succeeded?
Is the Switch’s online service finally on par with Sony or Microsoft’s? Or heck, even something people will actually want to pay for?
No. No it isn’t.
In fact, the service feels exactly like we feared it would: the same old crap as before, made worse and stuck behind a paywall.
And the Direct made that pretty obvious within the first five minutes of the presentation for the feature, with the first item on the list. Why?
Because said item was ‘this lets you play games with people around the world’. Yeah, pretty self-explanatory really.
Which is evidence Nintendo never really had enough selling points to market this service. Why advertise the obvious like this? Why promote the obvious? It’s like promoting Amazon with the words ‘you can buy stuff’ or marketing Google because it searches for websites. Yes it does. That’s the point. It’s not gonna make the service stand out from others.
And the Switch online fiasco continues even after that. Namely, with the last item on the list, the one about exclusive deals for the service.
Which in turn doesn’t actually offer any examples of said deals. Hmm, okay. Feels like another ‘feature’ meant to pad out a list, not a priority of the service.
Still, the Switch online setup does offer some new things, so it’s not quite as pathetic as it could have been. Cloud save backups are a nice include, as are the NES games you get access to through the service.
Unfortunately, like with most things Nintendo do, these promising inclusions aren’t done anywhere near as well as they could be.
For instance, cloud backups don’t actually work with every game. Instead, anything multiplayer focused (Splatoon 2, Pokémon Let’s Go games, etc) disables the feature for ‘security’ reasons. In other words? Cause Nintendo is so paranoid about cheating, your save data is put on the line. It’s pretty sad really.
And it’s indicative of how old fashioned Nintendo’s attitude is in general. Things like cloud saving or screenshots should not be ‘game specific’ things that devs can disable, they should be across the board OS ones. For instance, imagine if Windows let programs disable print screen, or the clipboard, or keyboard use or saving to certain directories. It’d be seen as rightly ridiculous.
Yet Nintendo allows just that. It’s proof of their very old fashioned/very Japanese salaryman sequel attitude that you can only use their products one way, and to sod off if you disagree.
But the cloud backup woes don’t end there. Nope, if your subscription runs out… well your cloud saves are toast. Gone. Kaput. Unrecoverable.
That means you’d better make sure your card is set up right and what not, otherwise you’re stuck up a creek without a paddle. It’s very consumer unfriendly, and jarring given how other systems give you a certain amount of leeway here (or keep your data save until you renew access/say you’ll leave).
Then there’s the NES games. When you subscribe to Switch Online, you get access to a set of NES games you can play ‘free’ as part of the deal. In theory, that’s a decent enough deal. You’ve got some classic games, and they’ve been fixed up a bit to have online multiplayer and what not.
Problem is… well they’re the same games we’ve seen a million times already. Seriously, imagine being a Nintendo fan who buys their NES games every time they’re released. How many copies of these games might you have by now?
- The originals on NES/Famicom
- Nintendo e-Reader card versions
- NES Classic GBA versions
- Wii Virtual Console versions
- 3DS Virtual Console versions
- Wii U Virtual Console versions
- The ones on the NES Classic
- And now the new ones available on the Nintendo Switch Online service.