“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”
Ask anyone who has an exceptionally good memory for odd conversations held more than a year ago and they’ll tellyou what I said when we first found out that the Nintendo Switch would not have Virtual Console. I suggested: “Maybe Nintendo is planning to do something different or better than VC?”
As it turns out, “different” is right but “better” remains to be seen. A company that has somehow managed this balancing act through gaming history of innovating and reinventing while at the same time remaining strictly traditional is also a company which is bound to have taken this route at some point. In certain ways, the subscription model Nintendo is utilizing to provide access to retro games for Switch users is not unprecedented. For one, it’s very much like the streaming services which have come to dominate access to film and television at home, services which are multiplying and competing intensely with each other.
I have played all but 5 of these. Can you guess which 5?
With Virtual Console, a consumer was required to pay for each purchase of a digital game. Owning an entire library of digital games on Virtual Console could get expensive, then. And if your console got lost or stolen, there went your digital library. With Switch Online, consumers have to pay a monthly or yearly fee and then gain access to a library of games. It’s cheaper but it also raises the question of what true ownership means. The choice of games can rotate as with movies on Netflix, but I don’t need to shell out $100 to play every NES game on there (games I’ve probably already played at some point or own physically, anyway).
Maybe I’m missing something here but for someone like myself, Switch Online is an affordable alternative to Virtual Console that I’m all for, and the fact that they’ve announced SNES games means they could also announce Game Boy, GameCube, N64… heck even Virtual Boy. That’ll be the day, but to me, this means more than simply creating an online store. It means creating an online archive. Nintendo potentially has a massive attraction of a subscription service in development here.
What do you think? Would you still want Virtual Console or is Switch Online enough?
You’re the consumer. You make the call.
-The Well-Red Mage
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