Now I’ve mentioned in the past that one of my most anticipated features for the Switch is Virtual Console. For a number of reasons, but the most glaringly obvious reason is. Well. Portable.. and then docked.. in that order.
I mean lets take for example Super Mario Bros 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was obviously developed for the home console however these days it’s perfect for on-the-go, but it’s also perfect to play on the couch or at a desk, or wherever your heart desires. Transversely a Game-boy title like Kirby’s Dreamland, of-course perfect on-the-go’, but a great option to be able to play it docked on a TV also.
It makes sense. The 3DS, awesome virtual console; the Wii U still awesome, but I find the 3DS VC to be a little more solid (thus far, I haven’t had one for long.. shame on me!) But then there’s Wii. The best virtual console ever and we never knew 12 years on it wasn’t going to get better (Obviously a subjective view, however at the very least the Wii’s Virtual Console remains the one with the biggest library of games).
So with the Wii’s VC reaching it’s end days on January 30, 2019 and the ability to add points just recently being stopped on March 26, 2018. With the 3DS coming to the end of it’s life-span and the Wii U being discontinued. With the Switch over a year into it’s life-span with no Virtual Console, however we see Arcade Archives coming in droves and Sega Ages recently being announced. With an online service coming in September 2018 offering a ‘Classic Games Selection’…
…My opinion? Virtual Console is no more. At least not the title ‘Virtual Console’. I think as far as Virtual Console is concerned. It’s already here. Sega just announced how they’re going to implement their’s, Neo Geo’s is already in full swing and Nintendo’s is coming as part of their Online Subscription.
13th of January 2017:
Monthly Game Download
Subscribers will get to download and play a Nintendo Entertainment System™ (NES) or Super Nintendo Entertainment System™ (Super NES) game (with newly-added online play) for free for a month.
This changed at the start of June of 2017 to:
Classic Game Selection
Subscribers will get to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario.
(See the wayback machine for info if you’re interested).
Not to mention the original release of the ‘Monthly Game Download’ was Fall 2017 (September through November) as part of the Online Service, which was when the Super NES Classic was released. Also Nintendo’s current online solution has been an absolute mess. Now the Online Service is September 2018, a year later. A move which I think is firstly to re-assess the implementation of voice chat and their online infrastructure and secondly to re-assess the implementation of the ‘Monthly Game Download’ to more of a ‘Netflix for Nintendo’ type service, or maybe a ‘Nintendo Game Pass’. Something along the lines of, “well if the fans want more than a Monthly (temporary) game download, it can’t coincide with the SNES mini, also I hear they aren’t huge on the voice chat solution” I’m sure was said at least once in the board room.
So lets assume the Online Service launching in September comes with a Game Pass for Nintendo’s Classic Games. Maybe companies could opt-in to it? Arcade Archives started releasing on the Switch before the change from ‘Monthly Game Download’ to ‘Classic Game Selection’ and Sega Ages being announced in April two months out of E3. Where I predict Nintendo to discuss it’s ‘Classic Game Selection’ and what it will look like.
I think we will see Nintendo up to N64 with GameCube planned (but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s years away), and whoever wants to opt in to port their games across. ie. those who haven’t already come up with their own solutions by then. I’d say Sega and Neo Geo won’t be part of it. I mean SNK have no reason to change their current Neo Geo porting solution. But maybe TurboGrafx or MSX might opt in?
What about an online store to buy classic games to own digitally forever? Nintendo probably thinks some people have bought many classic games three times over and wouldn’t want to buy them again. I imagine they feel it to be a more profitable solution to leverage their classic games as a way for users to opt in to their online platform as a means to provide ongoing revenue for them.
A ‘Ninflix’ service where I can download and keep all the classic games I want as long as I’m subscribed (I assume) is sufficient for my purposes, had I not decided to get into retro collecting it would be a different story. However it will suit many consumers.
All being said, I don’t feel like Nintendo needs to provide us with a ‘Virtual Console’ for every console they produce. They’re a business and want to use their assets to make money the best way they can, and an ongoing cash flow through a subscription service is clearly a solution that works and as far as I’m concerned, it’s better than a ‘Monthly Game Download’ and certainly better than nothing at all.
Featured Image: Copied from resetera forum post, Virtual Console logo from Nintendo.
Post Image: Classic Game Selection picture on Nintendo’s Online Service webpage.