Nintendo Switch Online – The Misconceptions We Can Straighten Out

It was only a few days ago (when this article was written) that Nintendo announced its first details about its Nintendo Switch Online service. I purposely chose to wait a few days after the announcement to get a feeling for the overall reception to the details. Of course, the initial response is the normal doom, gloom, anger, and promises of selling off hardware because now I have to pay for online. This, however, isn’t the general response to the Online service, in fact, in recent days the majority of people seem totally fine to happy about the new service. However, in the days since its announcement, I’ve been seeing many misconceptions about the service. These are either totally untrue statements to embellished headlines. Initially, I was going to write this article to defend the Online service; however, I really want to get to the 4 main misconceptions out there about the service and get the correct answers on Nintendo Switch Online.

Misconception #1: Virtual Console Is Dead and Not Coming to Switch

I’ve seen every variation of this headline in the days since Nintendo announced its first details about Nintendo Switch Online. Kotaku managed to get Nintendo to officially comment about if Virtual Console was coming for Nintendo Switch, which Nintendo said “no plans.” Except that was the only part of the quote people focused on, not the full quote from Nintendo. The full quote reads: “There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as had been done on other Nintendo systems.” 

As someone who has covered Nintendo for a number of years, you should know something about Nintendo. At times, they word things extremely specifically for a reason, and the above quote screams that. Nintendo did say that the Virtual Console banner or branding wouldn’t be coming to Switch, not that classic games wouldn’t be on Switch. The truth is this statement only tells us that we will not see the Virtual Console name on Switch, which has needed to be replaced for years. Think about it. Virtual Console doesn’t really mean much to people. Saying the Nintendo Entertainment System- Nintendo Switch Online, while a mouthful, fully explains what you are getting: NES games with Switch Online. For me personally, seeing the Virtual Console branding gone is a nice and welcome change, but that still doesn’t mean what people have made it sound like. Classic games will come to Nintendo Switch, either as their own package, eShop download, or as a part of some collection. Only the banner/brand Virtual Console is gone. In fact, the naming of the classic games coming to Switch gives more reason to believe more classic games are coming. Seems extremely specific to call it Nintendo Entertainment System- Nintendo Switch Online if these were the only classic games we would get. The naming makes it seems very likely that a Super Nintendo Entertainment System- Nintendo Switch Online or a Nintendo 64- Nintendo Switch Online will happen.


Misconception #2: Nintendo Is the Only Company to Charge for Cloud Saves

Nintendo announced that Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will get Cloud Saves as part of their membership. People were angry that Nintendo was charging for Cloud Saves, claiming that Nintendo was the only company to do that. Except….that statement is completely false. Microsoft, for the longest time on the Xbox 360, forced you to pay for Xbox Live Gold to get Cloud Saves. They even made you pay for Xbox Live Gold just to access Netflix and Hulu. Years later, Microsoft changed this and opened Cloud Saves up to everyone. Sony, on the other hand, still makes you pay for Cloud Saves. Cloud Saves on PS4 are connected to PS Plus, and you don’t get to access it without paying up first. I recently upgraded from my launch day PS4 to a PS4 Pro and forgot to renew my PS Plus. I wasn’t allowed to download any of my save game data until I paid for PS Plus again. So for anyone out there saying Nintendo is the only one to do this, you’d be completely incorrect. True, Sony and Microsoft offer other ways to backup your data through USB hard drive backup, something Nintendo doesn’t currently offer. Nintendo did, however, say that external hard drive backups were something they were exploring.


Misconception #3: This Is It for Nintendo’s Online

People on the internet seem to have the idea that what Nintendo announced about its Online service was it, and that we were getting nothing else. This is incorrect as Nintendo has stated these were just the first details about the Online service, and more details were coming before the service launches. I can understand some disappointment in Nintendo’s initial announcement, we’ve waited through one delay of the Online service (initially set to launch in Fall 2017), only to get some vague details about what we are getting. That’s understandable considering the wait; however, it’s obvious that’s not the entire service. Every online service had to start somewhere, with less features than it has today. Xbox Live was nothing really special when it launched on the original Xbox, it was a very basic service designed to take advantage of an online community that wasn’t there yet. It took time for the service to become what it is today. Even if this was all Nintendo was going to have on launch day, this is still big for a company that has never had an Online service. It’s a good start to something that will evolve into something more. Maybe it wasn’t everything we expected or wanted right off the bat, but it’s a good start. Nintendo has made one thing clear, they still have more to announce about Nintendo Switch Online before the service launches this September.


Misconception #4: If Your Switch Breaks or Is Lost, You Can’t Access Your Account

In previous Nintendo hardware, this statement would be true. A Nintendo Network account on Wii U, for instance, could not be accessed by another Wii U because your account was tied to that hardware. This isn’t the case with Nintendo Switch. Your account is not tied to any specific hardware. Since Nintendo Switch Online was detailed, there’s been some confusion about this. The common misconception is that you can’t sign-in to your Nintendo Account on another Switch and use your Online membership. This is incorrect, as Nintendo states on their website: “Nintendo Switch Online can be used on any device by signing into the Nintendo Account that purchased the membership.” In short, all you have to do is sign-in to your Nintendo Account on a new/different Switch and you get access to all your games and memberships. Since Switch Online will support Cloud Saves, that means you’ll have all your game files needed to play on different Switch consoles and lose nothing.

There you have it, 4 of the main misconceptions about Nintendo Switch Online. To be fair, there are many, many more misconceptions out there. These were the 4 most common misconceptions being spread across the internet. There’s plenty more information to come about Nintendo Switch Online. Nintendo has said they will announce more details and features as we get closer to the service launch in September. Until then, let’s focus on the facts of Nintendo Switch Online. For a company that has never done online services before (Nintendo Network doesn’t really count as there weren’t any features to it), Nintendo is starting off in the right direction. Cloud Saves, free games, online gaming, and member deals are part of every online service, including Nintendo’s. Switch Online is keeping families in mind with a fair Family Membership that allows 8 Switch accounts to be included in a Nintendo Switch Online family plan. Plus, the cost of Switch Online is in a perfect spot, $20 a year. Maybe Nintendo didn’t announce everything we possibly wanted, but so far, Nintendo is heading in the right direction.

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