We now know that Nintendo's new online service will be surprisingly cheap at an estimated $30 price point, which comes in much lower than its competitors. But are the features that Nintendo have confirmed worth the price they are asking for?
If they are able to provide more balanced and steadied online experience, then yes. Right now, playing Super Smash Bros. online is a nightmare, as lag and connection issues affect nearly every match. And that's not uncommon with many of Nintendo's games.
But that's something we won't know for certain until the system is out and we’re able to do rigorous testing. Until then we ask, will the additional features no to plans to offer he worth a small part of your yearly gaming budget?
So far Nintendo has announced cell phone enabled voice chat, a free rental of one classic game with newly added online play each month, and special deals for subscribers only. There is a lot of good that Nintendo is offering here, and if everything goes well once they launch then this plan will be more than worth it.
Online Lobbies and Voice Chat
Nintendo is releasing a smartphone app that will connect to the Switch and let you chat up all your buddies. Nintendo has never been a proponent of interacting with other players online, so this is a step in the right direction.
The main complaint that many have with this new system is the required use of your phone instead of a microphone or headset. While I see the concern here, not all consoles come with a headset, and the ones that do don’t always have a very good one included. But nearly every avid gamer has a cell phone. Heck, pretty much everyone who can afford a game console should have a phone, so I don't see the issue there.
It’s definitely not preferred, but using my phone and a pair of headphones to coordinate running Yoshi off the road in Mario Kart has more upsides than downsides.
Classic Games with Online Play
Nintendo’s plan to combat Sony’s PlayStation Plus free games and Microsoft’s Games with Gold program has been hit with a lot of criticism. For some reason, Nintendo is only giving members of their online service a month to play a different game from the NES or SNES era. It’s an odd choice for games that have been out for a long time with many gamers already purchasing them multiple times because of Nintendo’s screwed up account system.
What hasn’t seen a whole lot of light are the new online features that Nintendo plans to release with each game, which is awesome. Getting the ability to play Punch Out and Super Mario Bros. online with people around the world is a novelty well worth the investment that is required with this new service.
But why only one month? Why limit the availability of new online features that you put resources into? There must be different pieces of the infrastructure puzzle that we don’t know about, because free NES and SNES games with permanent online features would be a big reason a lot of people sign up.
Special Deals for Subscribers
Looking at the deals on the eShop over the past few years and the deals found on My Nintendo, these “exclusive” offers the big N may include don't seem promising. Nintendo has never been known for their great prices, even long after their initial release.
So, I can’t say this will make that price worth it, but it will if Nintendo offers some new releases at a discount price. If they don’t we’ll most likely see the same games on sale over and over again, much like we have before.
What Nintendo Hasn’t Said
Everything that Nintendo has announced about their new service has had some positivity surrounding it. After all, it’s hard to say that free games, discounts, and voice chat are inherently bad things, even if they have negative aspects.
What’s missing is what they haven’t said about their account systems. For too long digital purchases on Nintendo consoles and handhelds have been tied to the system they were bought on, which is a recipe for disaster when your system is lost, broken, or stolen. In most cases you can get your games back, but your save data is gone forever.
Nintendo should resolve this with the Switch, or their service will be another missed chance at joining the rest of the industry in the 21st century. If they update their account system and provide better online infrastructure, then everything else will be the cherry on the top of the cake.
I’m cautiously optimistic as multiple Nintendo executives have addressed questions about these issues, but like every other problem with Nintendo, we won’t know for sure until we can experience it ourselves.