In this series of end-of-year features, we're summing up some of 2019's biggest talking points.
When the Switch was released in 2017, Nintendo made its online services entirely free – positioning the system as the odd one out when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which require subscription services in order to run online games. However, Nintendo's plan was always to introduce a paid-for service, and that arrived in the form of Nintendo Switch Online – a cheaper option than what Sony and Microsoft offer, but one which arguably has fewer goodies in store for players.
While Nintendo's rivals offer free games to subscribers on a monthly basis, Nintendo had, up until this year, only given players access to a selection of NES titles. Perfectly emulated and supported by save states and a rewind function, these games were fun, but hardly a stunning reward for taking out an online sub. In 2019, Nintendo expanded its offering by adding SNES games – a welcome step, given that many of the console's best titles comfortably eclipse the NES' top efforts.
Access to the likes of Super Metroid, Zelda: Link to the Past, Super Mario World, F-Zero and Super Mario Kart will have tempted many of those Switch owners who had held off taking out a sub, and could well have committed others who were considering ending theirs. However, we hope Nintendo doesn't leave it there; given that the Virtual Console is now a thing of the past, it would be good to see Nintendo Switch Online expand to cover other classic systems, such as the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, N64 and perhaps even the GameCube.
Of course, games are one thing – Nintendo Switch Online has other functions, with online play and cloud saves being perhaps the most important. Given that Nintendo is now gaining revenue from this service, it would be reasonable to expect the company to invest some cash in adding in more functionality. We'd like to see the cloud save system get some tweaks, especially now the Switch Lite is available; as those swapping between two Switch consoles will attest, the current cloud save setup is far from elegant.
Are you happy with the state of Nintendo Switch Online in 2019? Would you like to see more systems added, or are you keen for better features and functions? Let us know with a comment.