Nintendo's Online Services are Causing a Stir

by Sammy Chan
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Nintendo’s very own online service, known as ‘Nintendo Switch Online’ (NSO), recently released two days ago. The online membership offers a variety of services. Online multiplayer, cloud saves, voice chat, access to a growing NES classics library and exclusive membership deals are now available at a price of 19.99 USD (17.99 EUR).

Lonely Lobbies

Up until September 18, 2018 the online multiplayer has been a free service to Switch owners. Players were able to access the online features in games such as ‘Splatoon 2’, ‘Mario Tennis: Aces’ and ‘Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle’ for free. The online lobbies now are significantly emptier, with a user posting this sad/ hilarious picture.



Controversial Quality of Service

In the Nintendo Direct preceding the launch of the service, less than favourable details regarding the service were revealed. Among them were that cloud storages would be deleted as soon as a user’s membership expired. For comparison, PS+ gives a grace period of six months to renew your membership, while XBL Gold keeps your online saves for as long as you want.
There was also the issue of accessing voice chat as an external application on your phone. At the moment, the voice chat feature is doing so-so; working alright but not without its complaints. With the ever-growing popularity of Discord, many question the purpose of the Nintendo app. Rest assured, the app will serve more than just a voice chat medium. As seen on Nintendo’s official website, there will be some games will be compatible with the application.
You’d think having access to an NES library would be able to convince you to cough up 20 dollars, but what if you’re going away for vacation? The Switch is a nifty device; portable and convenient for on-the-go gaming. Sounds perfect for some nostalgic NES classics while you’re out on your visit to the countryside, but get this. If you don’t connect your Switch to the internet for a week, you lose access to the games until you do. Oh, on a side note, hackers have found a way to put almost ANY NES game on your Switch.
Remember the less than perfect cloud storage we mentioned earlier? It gets less perfect, as not all games can be backed-up online. Here’s a list:

  • Dark Souls Remastered (Bandai-Namco)
  • FIFA 19 (Electronic Arts)
  • Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! (Nintendo)
  • Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! (Nintendo)
  • Splatoon 2 (Nintendo)

Source: Perfectly Nintendo
The block was implemented to prevent cheating, but is it worth risking hundreds of hours worth of saves? I remember back in the day, I grinded my Blaziken up to level 99 on my Gameboy Advance, only to have the file corrupt when the system hanged. Backed up data is a necessity, and should not be treated lightly.

Divided Consumer Opinions

The NSO’s main strength is that it’s a fairly cheap service with generous offerings. As it is, the reception regarding the service is almost equally split in favor of it and against it. While others are saying the price justifies the amount of service a consumer gets, many are insistent that they’d prefer quality over quantity.

Despite its shortcomings, the NSO is actually reasonable. For 20 dollars a year, and even less if you exploit the family plan, Nintendo Switch Online is a reasonable service. The main concern is that it’s an additional expense for many gamers, what with many already subscribed to either a PS+, XBL Gold, or even both. With the level of service not on par with its competitors, many people may be (or rather, are) deterred from subscribing to it despite its lower price. Like previously mentioned, it’s an additional cost. For people who are already subscribed to another service, NSO feels like the DLC of online services.

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