The Nintendo Switch might not be the most traditionally powerful console released over the last five years, but it is quickly staking a claim for the most innovative. Despite initial criticism over the device’s battery life and thin games library at launch, the Switch has won fans over with its hybrid portability and power – helped, of course, by the release of one of the most important Legend of Zelda games ever. Retailers have been struggling to keep the Switch in stock for more than a few hours even months after its launch, a trend that suggests Nintendo’s new console will remain relevant well after its initial release hype has died down.
Staying relevant, however, is a relatively new concern for Nintendo, a company that has historically done whatever it wants, even if it meant ignoring market trends. The release of the Nintendo Switch and its subsequent features are being handled much more like something from Microsoft or Sony, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Switch’s online capabilities. Nintendo announced yesterday that the Switch’s online service – which was already set to become something very different than what Nintendo has offered for consoles like the Wii – will undergo some major changes prior to its launch in 2018.
One of the biggest changes to the Switch’s online structure will be the way it provides subscribers with free games. Now, gamers will be given access to an online library classic games with added online play, and users will be able to play as many games they want without time restrictions for as long as they maintain an active subscription. Nintendo also announced that Super Mario Bros. 3, Dr. Mario, and Balloon Fight would be the first titles to join this subscriber-only online library.
Nintendo’s new approach to the Switch’s online subscription service will no doubt please gamers near-unanimously, as the previous structure of the service had left many scratching their heads. Nintendo’s original intent with Switch subscription was to provide users with a free NES or SNES game each month to be played only in that month and then taken away. The new subscription bonus, coupled with an already impressive $20 USD yearly fee, should do wonders in attracting gamers to shell out for Nintendo’s new service.
That is, of course, if fans can actually get their hands on a Switch prior to 2018. Sales of the console have been incredibly strong, but the demand has been higher, and Nintendo is currently fighting with Apple and other tech industry giants over parts needed to produce the Switch. Given the fact that the other companies Nintendo is competing with generate hundreds of millions more in revenue than the erstwhile gaming giant, production for the Switch might have to continue at its glacial pace for a while longer, making it one of the most highly sought-after game systems in modern memory.