Being a Nintendo fan is a constant lesson in futility. No matter how many wonderful memories I have with their franchises, and how many classic games they continue to make, just as often they shoot themselves in the foot with awful business practices.
Case in point: during the Animal Crossing Direct this morning, which announced a sizable upgrade to the game and a DLC pack that I’m sure fans will enjoy, Nintendo also announced the pricing for the Switch Online “Expansion Pass”. It’s fifty bucks US! That’s more than twice the yearly cost of the online service’s standard offering. That’s even ignoring the controllers if you want them.
It’s been argued that the baseline twenty was already a bit much, since Nintendo’s online connectivity isn’t very good and the NES/SNES games were usually not great picks, but it wasn’t really something I thought about. Twenty bucks a year isn’t a lot when you’re thinking about video games, and the perks were nice enough to keep me subscribed. Yeah, I could emulate all those games for free, but the convenience of having them all on my Switch, portable, and not having to think about it made it fine for me.
Fifty crosses a line here in my opinion. PS+ is just ten dollars more, and it includes games far more recent than twenty year old N64 titles. The Expansion Pass includes N64 and Genesis games, but also includes the Animal Crossing DLC, a substantial upgrade to the base game, which is $25 by itself. If you price it out, it is technically worth it if you play AC, but since I bounced off New Horizons hard, this doesn’t do it for me.
As someone who was ready to pay an extra ten bucks a year to play N64 and Genesis games, this all feels like a bundle spread too thin. Maybe if this included all future DLC from mainline Nintendo titles, I’d play ball. I spent thirty bucks on Pokemon Shield DLC and fifty-five on Smash Bros., if they want to include whatever they’re going to charge for Pokemon Arceus’ DLC I’d jump on that instead of the rest. Value is different for everyone, however, and next year when the Animal Crossing fans are done playing their DLC, will they re-up to use it on Breath of the Wild 2, if they even do that? Will they have gotten hooked on playing the original Pokemon Snap, even when the vastly superior sequel is also on this console? This all seems very shaky and I’m not confident about it at all.
I personally am fine with paying a small premium to play online if I get “free” games as well. PS+ is fine for me, and for you maybe it sucks. The Switch Expansion Pass is my line, but if we really want to get into the nitty-gritty, I just wish old games were preserved in a far better way and that companies would stop caring about emulation when they aren’t giving you a better option. Because Nintendo sure isn’t this time.