Thoughts: Nintendo Switch Online Details

Nintendo Switch Logo

Nintendo announced some Switch Online details last week, giving a clearer picture of what their new, paid online experience will include.  In addition, we got a look at the “innovative” headset and chat system Nintendo plans to use.

Online Pricing

The first big note was that the Switch Online services will be $20/year (with options of $8/3 months and $4/1 month).  This is much cheaper than the competitors, and seems fair in comparison.

Switch Online Pricing

Both Sony and Microsoft require $60 base line price for a yearly subscription to their respective services.  Sony provided free online for PS3 and then required its PS Plus on the PS4.  Both services both provide additional “benefits” from the online subscription as well.

What You Get

Twenty bucks will get you the traditional online access to multiplayer games, headlined currently by Splatoon 2 when it releases.  Notably, Switch Online will be free until 2018, so we will get a taste for what the online services will look like before having to pay.

It will be very interesting to see what online games will be available on the Switch.  We’ve had the first Splatoon, Super Smash, and Mario Kart, but Switch and Nintendo consoles are not well known as the place to play Call of Duty or Battlefield, which are a big draw to online services.  If Pokemon makes its way onto Switch, would trading or battling require paid online access?  I really hope not.

Switch Online Classic Games

Along with the expected multiplayer, Nintendo has announced a “Classic Game Library,” which at this time seems to include games such as SMB3 and Dr. Mario.  According to the official response, these games will also have “added online play.”

Would this include the “multiplayer” back and forth from NES SMB3?  Would it allow speed run races against online opponents? Leaderboards?  It’s unclear exactly what this additional functionality would include.

More important is what the library concept will mean for the Virtual Console shop items.  Will this replace that?  Will the same games be available if both options co-exist?  Will the Classic Game library include N64 or Gamecube titles? Wii titles?  This will be something to watch for.

Pokemon Stadium 2 Box Art

Classic game with added online functionality anyone?

Online multiplayer and the associated access to game have become standard fare for paid console online service.  PS Plus and Xbox Live both give out a library of games each month, although the quality of the games has seemingly reduced since the inception of the concept.  If Nintendo can add value in its free library, they might gain an edge, along with the big price discount.

Not-so-Free Headset

So, the new headset concept design leaked online and it hasn’t been pretty.  After Nintendo boldly declared they would eschew a bulky, obtuse headset.  Annnnd, it looks like they are giving us just that.

Nintendo Switch Headset Design

First, I’m not sure how such a design could pass muster.  After doing so much right, its a bit disappointing for Nintendo to miss the mark here.  It certainly doesn’t leave a good impression in how the actual online experience will be (away with friend codes…).

I do not want to connect my phone to chat through a console to friend.  I do not want multiple wires connecting everything to do so.  The big question I have is: How does this work when the Switch is docked?!  I’m not sure of the design limitations, but did they really overlook Bluetooth compatibility with the Switch?

Nintendo Reggie

Basically, this will push me to eschew a headset entirely (at least for chat purposes).  There are simply way easier options if you are trying to chat with friends you know outside the console itself.  Why not use Skype or Discord or any other method since you are tethered to the phone anyway.

Conclusion

In sum, I am happy that Nintendo’s online services will come at a discount.  I’m sad the last vestige of free online play on console is now a forgotten memory.  I’m optimistic of the Classic Library as a Netflix of Nintendo games, but hope that they don’t just give us shovelware.

Splatoon 2

If Nintendo can quickly figure out the headset debacle, that’d be great but it looks like we are stuck with it (which means no chat when the Switch is docked?).  That’s sad to see, and I hope that philosophy doesn’t seep into the rest of the online experience.

 

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15 thoughts on “Thoughts: Nintendo Switch Online Details

  1. It’s sad that all the console makers now charge for online. Sony recently raised PS Plus prices in Europe, which sucks because the free games have been terrible lately. Believe it or not I do not own a mobile phone. Guess I will not be able to play online if I ever get a Switch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Requiring a mobile phone kinda defeats the point for me – online chat should be integrated into the interface and game (like it is on almost every other platform!). Online subscriptions have been a big part of why I lean towards PC as my main platform the majority of the time. At least Nintendos is cheaper, but it remains to be seen what they will even offer alongside multiplayer features.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Splatoon 2 Review Compilation | Particlebit

  3. It seems a bit annoying that players would have to pay a subscription to play online, particularly if there is not multiplayer alternative, but to play game online. I remember someone told me about an online game for the PlayStation 2 which required a paid subscription, but was later provided for free when so few people were willing to pay it. The Classic Game Library seems interesting, particularly if it had good games that were not available on the Virtual Console. I agree it would be interesting to see how old single player games can have an online multiplayer addition. It does seem strange that a phone would be needed to chat online, particularly as it must be just as easy to use the phone itself, if playing with friends.
    Does Nintendo have an established online community? What titles have been released for the Classic Game Library? Would the player have to pay for each game? Or would they come with the subscription? Is there a chance someone could hack a player’s phone through the internet connection?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lot of these questions are still outstanding. Nintendo has not been known for its online prowess so this is their first paid subscription. So far, only a few older nes titles have been announced.

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  4. I like most of what I hear about their online plans, but that headset… god damn, there’s no way in hell I’m having that much wires connected to devices that are designed to be, keyword… WIRELESS.

    At this point, since the social aspect of their service resides on smart phones, wouldn’t it make more sense to have players exclusive use the phone to talk? and connect headsets, wired/wireless to the phone only? That to me sounds like a way better design. I don’t see the need to have to hook it up to the switch when in the end these social aspects are being controlled from the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, hopeful and optimistic but at the same time super skeptical because some of these choices, specifically the voice chat one, are strange at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you on this one. $20 seems like a bargain to play endless classics each year, however I hope they keep the library chunky and current and don’t keep a 4-5 game ‘cycle’ going. That would kind of ruin the whole thing for me, to be honest. I’d love a nice ‘wall’ of Nintendo classics to choose from, and not just from NES either – it is 2017 and the SNES deserves to be considered a classic. No one wants to play NES any more, and those who do, there are plenty of options already out there to do so. Not saying NES shouldn’t be on VC, but it shouldn’t it _it_. These games have been paid for tens of thousands of times over for digital copies, give us a break now.

    The headphone thing.. jesus christmas. I don’t even know what to say about that disaster of wires. Talk about going back 10 years. Feels like you’re tethered into the damn thing. How about, I don’t know, bluetooth!? You know, that tech that has existed for a dozen or more years and exists in everything from coffee mugs to toasters?

    Definitely a missed mark but I’m thinking they can fix the headphone issue with a firmware patch to enable Bluetooth to work. The phone app tethering concept needs to go, BADLY!

    Liked by 1 person

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