With the latest Nintendo Switch event now over, fans have had a lot of new information to digest. Some great — like announcements for future games and partnerships — and some a little more sour among the community. One of the latter has been Nintendo’s plan to move their online functionality to a subscription model, a new Frontier for Nintendo, but a 15-year-old concept in practice. In 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live service.
Why A Subscription Is A Good Move
A full online suite has never been Nintendo’s strong suit. The GameCube only offered a handful of online-enabled games. Wii had a basic and non-uniform online service, and the WiiU and 3DS featured a bizarre half-measure to a cohesive system.
Nintendo has struggled on the forefront of online gaming in a lot of ways, but one thing always reigned true with Nintendo’s online offerings. It was always free. But at the same time, the service definitely felt “free.” With the various ups and downs of Nintendo’s online functionality still fresh in the gamer’s mind, Nintendo’s new offering of a subscription service feels like our chance to actually have a premium service. At a premium, but undisclosed price.
Lessons from the Past
During the birth of online subscriptions services for console gaming, the dividing line was very visible between what services were great, and which were poor. Take for example the original Xbox Live network, where users had a universal gamertag, friends list, and an invite system. Whereas the PlayStation 2 had a scattershot experience, forcing players to create a separate account to log in to every single game they wished to play online. They had to buy a separate network adapter and physically install it, and system setup discs saved settings to a memory card. In those early days, you got exactly what you paid for.
The same story rang true with the launch of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. PlayStation 3’s online service still to this day has a hit or miss invitation system, suffers from instability, and does not have a party chat system in place. All of these problems were alleviated once Sony moved to a subscription-only model with the PlayStation 4.
How It Benefits Gamers
With a subscription model available for Nintendo’s Online service, as well as the revenue it generates for Nintendo, gamers can expect a smoother and more premium experience every time they wish to play games with their friends on the Nintendo Switch. With a subscription model, we can expect reliability and a cohesive experience between games, in a quickly accessible mobile app. The mobile app may be off-putting to some, but consider how convenient it actually is any time you’d chose to comment, tweet or share your opinions on the matter from the every same mobile device you are using.
We owe Nintendo a chance to catch up with the crowd, and our dollars will speak for themselves with the fun we have in the upcoming years with Nintendo.