Virtual Console for Nintendo was a brand of downloadable games, which consisted of classics from the library of the company's past home and handheld gaming devices. The line was similar in concept to Sony's current PS Classics or PS Now services and the Xbox One Backward Compatibility catalog. It was available on the Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS platforms. Gamers have been wondering if the Virtual Console line would be returning in this generation.
The answer, according to a Nintendo spokesperson, is no. Speaking to Kotaku, the spokesperson stated in an email: “There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems." That's a major letdown for those wanting a dedicated line to keep the classic games from Nintendo's vast library of games alive for the current generation and beyond.
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However, that doesn't mean that the company is planning to shut access to classic games for good. Nintendo recently announced the details of its upcoming Nintendo Switch Online service. For now, it has been confirmed to offer classic games from the NES library, with 30 games to be offered at launch and more to be added in the future.
The Nintendo spokesperson also stated: “There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections. Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch."
Interestingly, the company spokesperson only specifically mentioned NES classics. It remains to be seen if Nintendo will offer classic games from other iconic Nintendo platforms, like the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance, in the future.