How Nintendo Should’ve Done Online (And How They Can Still Fix It) – An Open Letter to Nintendo

How Nintendo Should’ve Done Online (And How They Can Still Fix It) – An Open Letter to Nintendo

Dear Nintendo,

You’re a great company. Your games are a lot of fun and you clearly put a lot of time and effort into them. The Nintendo Switch is a great console and it’s proven that you guys still have what it takes to make it in this industry. However, you clearly haven’t figured out how to do online properly yet, and that’s where I come in.

Don’t worry Nintendo, it’s not too late to turn things around. First you have to admit that you screwed up pretty badly when it come to your online implementation. Once you can admit that, then you’re ready to move on to step two, which is scrapping what you have and redoing it from the ground up. Lucky for you, ’tis the season to be giving and I’m in a pretty giving mood, so I’m going to help you make 2019 the year of Nintendo Switch Online.

So the one good thing about Nintendo Switch Online is that it’s relatively cheap at only $20/year ($25 in Canada). That’s good and you should keep it that cheap so that it’s enticing for people to get the subscription.

But you shouldn’t tie online gaming to that fee. Yes, you heard me right, playing online with your friends on games like Splatoon 2Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate should be free. You don’t have your own servers for these games, the online experience isn’t any better so there’s no reason to charge people to play these games online. We got it for free for a year and a half, why be scrooges and charge for it when nothing has improved?

So now you’re probably wondering why anyone would pay the subscription fee if playing online with friends is free. Well that’s because of what the subscription actually gets you.

First of all and probably one of the most important things is the virtual console. You closed down the virtual console and said it’s not coming to the Switch. You went to war against ROM sites for allowing people to download your games for free, yet you fail to offer a better, legal alternative for the people to enjoy. So here’s what you do:

Forget the crappy 20 NES games plus 3 NES games per month. That trickle drip feed is ridiculous, especially for NES games people don’t care about. So here’s what you do, at launch (or relaunch) you offer 100 NES games from the get-go, then add an additional 20-30 games per month. After a couple months add 50 SNES games with an additional 15-20 SNES games per month and then add on N64 games. By the end of 2019 I’m thinking there should be 300-400 NES games, around 150-200 SNES games and maybe around 100-150 N64 games. Throw some Gameboy and Gameboy Color games in there for 2019 since those are probably also really simple to emulate (and when I say probably, I mean it is). Allow people to play these games solo, locally with friends and online with friends and that alone will entice people to pay the subscription fee, but we’re not done yet.

Next is cloud saves. It should be free, but I digress. At the very least you guys should give us the option to locally back up our save files on a flash drive or SD card for free. Cloud saves can continue to be part of the subscription, however (and this is the kicker) it should be for ALL games. Yes, even Splatoon 2. Every game should have cloud save functionality, because your reasons for not allowing it are stupid. I’m sorry to be so blunt but someone has to be. I mean, even if your reasons were logical (which they aren’t), why the hell can’t you do cloud saves for Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee? Those are predominantly single player games with a small online component. Whatever, the point is that it’s illogical for some games to not have cloud save back up. PlayStation and Xbox both allow cloud saves for all of their games, and you can too. So cloud saves can be part of the subscription and you should allow local back ups for free.

Then on top of that there should be hefty store discounts every week for people who are subscribed. Like, take the normal 20-30% off that your eShop gets for non-subscribers and boost it up to 50-60% for people that are subscribed. It’s really not that difficult. (Note: I’m aware that they had mentioned discounts in the store as a selling feature when they introduced it originally, and maybe it’s already like this, I’m honestly not a subscriber because I don’t see the value in being subscribed to NSO. The point isn’t whether or not it’s already like this for discounts, but that it should be like this in the rebirth of NSO. If it’s already like this, then great, Nintendo doesn’t have to change anything regarding this.)

And last, but certainly not least, give the subscribers one free full priced game per month for as long as they’re subscribed. If they already own the game for a certain month, then oh well. Sony and Microsoft don’t really offer anything to people when they already own one or more of the free games they give away each month, as it’s just a bonus perk, so you don’t have to worry about it either, honestly. And the one free game each month can be first party or third party, it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a full priced game being given for free, people will be happy.

So to recap, Nintendo, keep online gaming with friends free, but for the subscription offer a much better virtual console type experience (like Netflix for Nintendo games, I’m also thinking you should add GameCube games for 2020. Honestly the fans would be so happy and you’d get all the money in the world), offer cloud saves for all the games and a free local back up option (I mean, even the Wii had this), offer really good discounts for subscribers on the eShop and finally offer one free full priced game each month to subscribers for as long as they’re subscribed to the service. Oh, and keep the cost the same.

With these easy to follow steps, you’ll get the consumer to rejoice, you’ll be lauded and you’ll get all the money from all the fans. Honestly, people would love this and it wouldn’t even be that difficult for you guys to implement. The biggest sin about the current NSO is that you tied playing online with friends to it but didn’t offer anything in return, all you did was lock online play behind a paywall when it used to be free. You removed a key feature that people loved and didn’t offer anything great in return. This is what we want Nintendo, please listen to us, your fans.

And have a Merry Christmas and other happy holidays and a happy New Year.


Stephen Kaplan

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