Two days ago, Nintendo announced the details about Nintendo Online, their online service for the Nintendo Switch. After having gone over the details of it, I’d have to say that not only is Nintendo Online lackluster, it’s a slap in the face of every consumer that bought the switch that wants to use their online functionality.
So what do you get?
Let’s first dive into what is provided for the user. The first is the obvious access to playing games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS and Splatoon 2 online. Since launch, online has been free because they wanted to iron out the details for the online and make sure they got it right, but still let their users play games online.
In my experience, the quality of online play in terms of stability has changed from game to game. I’ve had fantastic success with Mario Kart 8 with little to no lag, while Splatoon was a laggy nightmare filled with frequent disconnects. If the stability of online is constantly good, I’d be happy.
They are also offering 20 NES games with added online play for the first time ever. To me, this is nothing more than a consolation prize for having to wait for Nintendo to announce this. I personally care very little, if at all, for NES games and am definitely not intrigued in the added online aspect to these games.
Nintendo answered the request of many of their fans with the backing up save data of their games. This was highly requested for those that have a chance to lose their Switch and worried about their save data. Again, to me, Nintendo offering the ability to backup save data is something they should had since day one. To me, it’s something every console should have, and every console HAS had for well beyond the past decade.
The last thing they’re offering the consumer is the ability to communicate with your friends who also own the switch via the Nintendo App. This includes voice messaging.
Why Nintendo… why?!
I already expressed some of my concerns above, but I’ll reiterate them here because I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation in 2018. Nintendo offering the NES games is nothing more than a band aid, a lollipop at the doctor’s office for being a good boy or girl. Truth be told, the NES games were probably coming anyway, and they decided to bundle it with the Online Service just to make it seem like a deal.
As mentioned before, them including cloud backups, or backups in some capacity behind the online feature is ridiculous. You’ve been able to manually back up save files for a literal decade. It’s a basic feature that should come with any console, and aside from the Switch, DOES.
The large slap in the face is also the usage of the awful Nintendo app for communication. Every other platform has some form of voice integration, whether it’s party chat, Skype or Discord, or a native in game voice chat. Not only does Nintendo not offer the native voice chat, but you have to interface with a clunky UI and delayed voice responses. For competitive games like Splatoon 2, communication is key, and it’s something that can be accomplished via the app. Companies like Discord have stated that they would love to work with Nintendo on an app, but as of this article, nothing has come for it.
Nintendo is offering a subpar product, and that is absolutely not okay. For comparison, Xbox has not only offered voice chat and party chats for their Xbox Live Gold Members for years now, but they’ve also done Games for Gold, a program where they give away a free game every month. The games given away aren’t obscure indie titles either, but AAA games from previous years. Sony has similar features for PS Plus as well.
Amending the wrong
In my opinion, this can be resolved. The first thing Nintendo should do is attempt to implement a voice chat natively within the software. In doing will create a one stop shop for the user to contact and communicate with their friends. The second thing would be to allow backups as a native function regardless if the user buys Switch Online or not. The user should be able to protect and back up the saves to a Micro SD and transfer them to a PC. This will give the user more protection of their precious save content and a way to preserve it in case it gets lost.
Nintendo offering the NES games is a nice touch, but I find very few people will actually play them. Offering a variety of games across their massive catalog is a better fit. This could include SNES and N64 games as well as the Gamecube. People would love to play a game like Super Metroid again in preparation for Metroid 4 or Super Mario Sunshine to relive their childhood.
Nintendo can turn this around, but they need to take a good long look at what they are offering and what they’re doing as a company. If they just toss something half thought together and give it to their consumers, they’ll be mad and possibly move to a different platform. I know Nintendo can do this though, they just need to think differently like they’ve been doing.