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The Nintendo Network Subscription is an Unfunny Joke

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 05/19/18 at 06:48 PM CT

Nintendo has been dragging their feet for over a year after the company announced that they would be adding a subscription paywall to online play for the Nintendo Switch (and presumably all future Nintendo hardware). For a while, it looked like maybe they’d changed their minds, but alas, last week they officially pulled off the obscuring tarp and revealed the monstrosity in all its glory.

For a basic price of $4/month (which only idiots would pay instead of grabbing the $20/year ‘bonus’ package, which is still of dubious value), Switch owners can pass unmolested through the paywall for games like “Splatoon 1.5,” “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch,” or “Mario Kart 8” (which were free to play online on the WiiU…), plus SO MUCH MORE! Let’s take a look:

Save Data Cloud Backup
One of the biggest oversights with the Switch hardware is the inability to locally back-up saves to an SD card or USB drive. Nintendo is clearly still terrified by the way the original Wii was hacked via modified save data loaded onto it by end users, so they’ve doubled-down on not allowing users to control their own data on the Switch. Instead, they’ll hold user data ransom in their Cloud servers, presumably deleting it the moment the subscription lapses, or they get tired of maintaining the service. This is an absolute slap in the face, especially when Steam, GOG Galaxy, and even friggin’ EA’s Origin provide cloud saving for free and the Switch Dock has a damned USB port built-in.

Virtual NES Online
Oh, boy! It looks like someone at Nintendo finally noticed that Netplay is a thing. But since every old ROM that was ever sold on the Virtual Console was dumped and shared (even “StarFox 2,” from the SNES Classic), Nintendo seems to have decided that selling individual game files is too risky, so they’re locking their emulation solution behind the paywall as well. Starting off with a bunch of really bad NES games (and a couple decent ones) with dubious multi-player functionality (Where the Hell is “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers”?!) isn’t exactly a tempting lure for customers, though, especially with the NES Classic getting another print run in the near future. Netplay isn’t even a compelling feature for this particular hardware, since the Switch doesn’t have a mobile radio or 4G data plans (which would actually make paying Nintendo a subscription worthwhile). You’d better hope that you and your distant friend are both sitting somewhere with wi-fi… and both have wallets $20 lighter.

The Online Feature App that’s on Phones Instead of the Switch
The fact that basic features like chat weren’t properly integrated into the Switch itself, but instead required a separate mobile app (and thus a mobile phone and a data plan) was ham-handed and laughable when it was free. Touting it as a perk worth paying for is an insult.

Special Offers
“Special” as in “special education,” most likely. I think it’s incredibly stupid that Sony and MS fans/subscribers/hostages get excited about discounts that they have to pay for. Now Nintendo fans will get to participate in that same flavor of Stockholm Syndrome when they gush about the 20% off coupon they got from Nintendo for a digital game they didn’t intent to buy anyway, but if they did could have saved more than 20% by not paying for a superfluous subscription.

And that’s it! $20/year for a bunch of features that are both free and better on PC. Hell, these features are even free and better on MOBILE PHONES. All of the console makers need to be held to task in order to justify their subscriptions. Nintendo’s offering, though, is not only late, but still incredibly half-assed and unjustified… Unless the justification is, “We don’t respect our customers and want free money.”

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View dbarry_22's Profile


Wrote on05/31/18 at 02:30 PM CT

This Switch online service better get a lot better soon because I'm with you, it's a $20 joke right now. Personally I think the Virutal Console service has gotten progressively worse since it started with the Wii. Nintendo better get it's act together.

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