By AIDAN GARDE
When Nintendo announced its new console, the Nintendo Switch, in 2016, controversy arose with the joint reveal of paid online pay. Now, after a year and a half of delays and secrecy, Nintendo finally released their pay-to-play model on September 18. Now, Switch owners subscribe for $3.99/month, or $19.99/year.
Both console goliaths, Microsoft and Sony, have a pay-to-play online play, which has led to many PC gaming converts, but Nintendo has been unaffected due to most of its marketplace consisting of platform exclusive games (e.g Super Mario, Zelda). However, with the release of the Nintendo Switch, hundreds of third party developers that were mainly developing for PC have begun to make the Switch compatible with their products. Nintendo is now a viable platform for developers to run their games, which means they have entered the race with the Xbox, PS4, and PC.
If Nintendo wants to stay a viable option for third party developers, they need to stay at or close to the standard that makes PC so affordable. But by charging their users for online features, Nintendo will join Microsoft and Sony in being seen as “greedy corporations” and will surrender much of their business to PC and Steam.
Nintendo is in a unique position in that the Switch is a portable system that can run games of the PC caliber. Nintendo conforming to the norm of charging for online services means that they will lose this position and ultimately fall from their former glory.
Despite the business tactics and trying to maximize revenue, there is a deeper connection that is being damaged: the connection between Nintendo and its fans.
There is no doubt that games are getting more expensive to manufacture. Despite rising expenses in manpower, graphics, and server space, Nintendo has stuck to the age-old $60 price tag. Fans understand that Nintendo must raise revenue in some way in order to stay afloat.
However, charging for online services, which are a large portion of games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or the upcoming Super Smash Bros., is the wrong approach. To nickel-and-dime its loyal fans by charging for portions of games that should be free offends the community, and is an insult to the maturity and understanding of the fanbase.
A solution would be to simply increase the prices of games that cost more to produce. Fans would have no problem paying a twenty extra dollars for the full experience of the games, rather than charging the original fee and gutting fans with monthly subscriptions.
With any luck, Nintendo will realize their mistake in the coming months, and will take a step in the right direction.