No. Gosh, this was an easy post to write! …Wait, you want me to talk about this more? Fine…
I’ll be honest: For the past few months, I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a post that revisited the Nintendo Switch Online service and judged whether or not it had finally become worthy of the $19.99 a year we were spending on it. Spoiler alert: The answer is still no.
- The online experience for Nintendo Switch games hasn’t gotten any better (although I’m hearing some positive comments about Mario Party Superstars online; maybe Nintendo is finally figuring things out? Or maybe not…).
- The NES game count currently stands at 58 games, which means it’s added just 18 new games over the last two years (and frankly, most of them are D-list titles no one missed that much anyway). SNES games are now available, but that number stands at just 49, and while the launch lineup was defensible, many of the additions since then have been uninspiring at best. Before confirming the numbers today, it had been so long since I’d used the service that both consoles had been kicked off of the Switch’s main menu.
- There’s a long list of games that still do not support cloud backups, and there are some heavy-hitters among them, including Splatoon 2, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the Let’s Go! series. Animal Crossing now support island restoration, but in limited circumstances.
- Does anyone actually use the Switch Online app? It’s only supported by a handful of games, and setting up voice chat through the app remains a convoluted process. Were it not that the app is the only place to report Splatoon 2 players or view weapon stats, I wouldn’t use the darn thing at all.
- The “Special Offers” advertised by the service boil down to a pair of 99-player battle royales, some retro controllers, and a few extra in-game items. In other words, it hasn’t been all that special.
Given all this, I’d argue that the Nintendo Switch Online service still isn’t worth the twenty bucks I’m already paying for it now, and I certainly wouldn’t pay anything more for it.
So naturally, Nintendo introduced a new “expansion pack” for their bare-bones NSO service. Is it worth twenty bucks now? Well, the improvements boil down to two things:
- N64 and Sega Genesis Games: Everyone expected N64 games to reach NSO eventually, but I don’t think anything expected them to come with a separate price tag (more on that later). The launch lineup is solid but small (a mere 9 titles), and the teased later releases only reinforce that trend (sure, more good games are on the way, but only 7 in total). To be honest, none of these games (even the ones I haven’t played before) don’t interest me enough to revisit the N64 lineup, and if I really wanted to do that, I’d pull my original console off the shelf to play them. In contrast, the Genesis launch lineup doesn’t interest me at all, and I know so little about that lineup that I can’t see them adding anything to catch my interest. (And this doesn’t even take into account all the reports of poor emulation quality, bizarre controller button mappings, and lack on Controller Pak support.)
- Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer DLC: I’ve already proclaimed my disinterest in Happy Home Designer, but I don’t think getting it through NSO makes economic sense: Why would you pay a yearly fee in perpetuity (especially when said annual fee is more than the cost of buying the DLC by itself) instead of buying the game once and owning it outright? It’s only going to interest folks who a) already have AC: New Horizons, and b) are really into the home-design aspect of the game, and everyone else is going to be paying for something they don’t want or can’t use.
So none of the additions seem appealing right now, and I’ve only hinted at the new price tier for all of this, which is more than twice the cost of the basic service (it’s jumping from $19.99 to $49.99 per year). Personally, this would still be a hard sell for me at $19.99 or even $29.99 per year—at $49.99 I’m folding my hand and leaving the table. But should you drop a Ulysses S. Grant’s worth of cash on this thing?
This one really comes down to personal preference. If you really want to play N64 or Genesis classics online and are excited about Happy Home Designer (and are okay with not actually owning the DLC), then perhaps you can stomach the massive price increase (or even better, find a group of friends to share the family plan with, although that price jumps to $79.99 per year for the expansion pack). But if you’re only lukewarm about the older games or you’re not an Animal Crossing fan, I just don’t see how this pass makes sense. Just like the original NSO service, it just feels like a way for Nintendo to milk its player base for every last dime.
Now, just because this service doesn’t seem to be worth it now doesn’t mean that it will never be worth it: More games that we currently don’t know are coming could be added, and as Nintendo Life points out, future DLC packs for other games could be tossed into the expansion pack as well. Still, there’s no point in paying now for what might be coming in the future, and given Nintendo’s spotty DLC track record over the last few years, I’m not ready to place my bets and blindly trust Nintendo to eventually make it worth my while. They’ll get my money when I think they’ve got an offering that’s worth it, and not a moment before.
I won’t be upgrading my NSO service, and I don’t think you should either until Nintendo gives us something that’s worth the heftier price tag. The whole thing still feels like a cynical cash grab, and at a time where everything seems to be getting more expensive, you’ve got better things to do with your money.