We all know about the “Nintendo surcharge” that games on Nintendo Switch always cost more than other platforms. Well now it seems the company is expanding that surcharge to its Nintendo Switch Online.
Nintendo held its Animal Crossing Direct earlier today, announcing a number of updates coming to the game including a paid DLC. You can read about the announcement here, but as part of the announcement, Nintendo gave details on its recently announced Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion pack membership. This new online tier first went public at the recent Nintendo Direct. The company gave few details at the announcement saying that would come soon. Well soon was today and, oh boy, does the news not look so good.
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack Details
The Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack will cost $49.99 plus tax for 12 months for an individual membership. If you want to do a family plan, that will cost you $79.99 plus tax. This is more than double the current pricing tiers. An individual plan currently costs you $19.99 plus tax and a family plan costs $34.99 plus tax.
It’s important to note, you do not have to upgrade to the new pricing tier. Nintendo will not be, at least for now, removing the original pricing structure. However those who decide to upgrade to the new tier, will see additional benefits. Subscribers gain access to a number of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis titles. The video above gives a small glimpse into the lineup. Gamers will also receive modern quality of life improvements not seen in the original versions. This includes save states, rewind gameplay, and the ability to play online with friends. The full list of games currently announced are:
Launch Lineup of Nintendo 64 Games
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Mario Kart 64
- Star Fox 64
- Sin and Punishment
- Dr. Mario 64
- Mario Tennis 64
- Yoshi’s Story
Upcoming Nintendo 64 Games (With More To Come)
- Pokémon Snap
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
- Mario Golf
- Paper Mario
- F-Zero X
Launch Lineup of Sega Genesis Games
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Streets of Rage 2
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Castlevania: Bloodlines
- Contra: Hard Corps
- Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
- Golden Axe
- Gunstar Heroes
- Phantasy Star IV
- Shining Force
- Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
For Animal Crossing fans, you will be able to play the newly announced Happy Home Paradise DLC for no additional charge. It’s a good amount of content, but I can’t help but feel it’s not enough for the asking price.
Improvements Need to Be Made
Nintendo Switch Online sat at a comfortable price previously for what the subscriber received. Subscribing gave you access to over 100 NES and SNES games with the improved functionality listed above. You also received cloud save data, the ability to play online, and access to member only deals. These deals include things like the access to buy the new Nintendo 64 or Sega Genesis controllers with Bluetooth support.
I could justify this at roughly $20. It became a steal at $35 on a family plan of up to eight which equates to under $4.50 per person per year. However for more than double the price to essentially play Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games, that feels like Nintendo snagging your wallet and saying “don’t mind if I do.”
For one, many of Nintendo’s online games struggle with connectivity. Take the highly beloved Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for instance. Ask any player and you will hear countless stories of lag and struggling to complete a match. As a recent example, my friends and I couldn’t complete a single game on Super Mario Party before getting hit with “online connection was lost.” The infrastructure really struggles due to the Nintendo Switch’s Wi-Fi only system. This problem may get alleviated a bit now that the new dock with a built-in LAN adapter released, but only for those who decide to upgrade.
Some may point to the large list of games you can play for free as justification for the price. However, I would argue these titles are extremely old. While we do get those modern functionalities, those only impact the quality of life of the game. It has no bearing on the actual gameplay itself. The titles feel stiff and show their age compared to newer titles. At least with PlayStation Plus or Xbox Gold (which you should opt for Gamepass as well), you receive titles that were released in the last five years or so. Giving access to Animal Crossing’s new DLC is a good step toward something similar, but this isn’t a sure thing. The video detailing the new membership makes no mention this will continue in the future.
Nintendo, Shape Up Will You?
Nintendo, listen to me. I understand your fans will pay what you ask. I’m guilty of that myself. However, this feels like a step too far. Give fans a better reason for this large price increase. Tell us plans of future access to DLC for no additional cost. Let us know if you plan to give more modern releases as additional freebies. We, as fans, beg you to give us an idea why this price increase isn’t just a cash grab, because currently it feels like one. We as fans deserve better or, at the very least, to know our money is being well spent. This, well, just ain’t it.