Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack

  • What is Nintendo Switch Online? Remember when you used to be able to play Nintendo games online for free? Those days are gone buster. Despite holding out the longest, Nintendo now charges customers to play their games online. Only caveat is Free To Play games such as Fortnite do not require Nintendo Switch Online to play online. The good news however is that unlike competitor services, Nintendo Switch Online only costs $20 a year, which is dirt cheap!

    There are other membership options available for different needs as well. Notably, up to 8 accounts can join together into a Family Membership for $35 a year, which typically results in a much better value proposition than purchasing individual memberships. You don't need to be an actual family to take advantage of this. You can simply form it between a group of friends that all kick in for it. You could be paying as little as about $4.50 a year for Nintendo Switch Online!

    Now so far, we've only gone into these memberships granting you the ability to play Nintendo Switch games online, but that's not the only benefit you get for subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online. There are some additional benefits, which I will quickly summarize below:

    • A library of over 100 NES + SNES Games you can access and play online with a friend while subscribed
    • Save Data Backups over Cloud Storage (shouldn't be a paid incentive, also doesn't cover Pokemon for reasons)
    • Smartphone App (barely used for anything so almost pointless)
    • Voice Chat (except it goes through the crappy Smartphone App instead of normal Voice Chat)
    • Special Offers like ability to buy classic form Controllers in Limited Quantity (antipiracy measure)
    • Special Offers like Special Games such as Tetris 99, Pac-Man 99, or Super Mario 35 (which doesn't exist anymore)
    • Special Offers like Game Trials (infrequently & randomly you'll get full access to some random game for about a week)
    • Special Offers like... honestly some random digital crap like stuff to level up Spirits in Smash Bros. (no value here)

    The big thing is the NES and SNES games. There's lots of classics in there, among lots of cool obscure stuff too, but the main problem with it is how infrequently they release with no hard schedule. Plus, people will always feel a lack of ownership over the games compared to Virtual Console since you can no longer access them once your subscription lapses. Unfortunately, Virtual Console was canibalizing third party and indie sales on Nintendo platforms in the past, so a subscription model is a much better system for a healthier overall storefront ecosystem where people still have disposable income each week / month / etc. to buy nonNintendo games. Now, let's talk about the Expansion Pack.


    No, that's the N64 Expansion Pak. We're talking about the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. Sorry, no Donkey Kong 64 today. So what is the Expansion Pack? This is a completely optional more expensive tier of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service detailed above. In addition to all the benefits listed above, you will also gain access to a beginning library of 9 N64 games, some with optional online supporting up to 4 players, as well as 14 SEGA Genesis games that have been resold in countless collections over and over again for ages now. More are already confirmed to be on the way, but like the NES and SNES games we have no hard release schedule. I'm confident over time this will be a nice bulk of fun games to have access to, at least until Switch 2 happens.

    All fun and games up until this point, but now here's where everyone slams the brakes on the hype train. This higher tier of the subscription service is going up from $20, not to $25, not to $27, not even to $30, but instead to...

    FIFTY Goddamn American Dollarydoos Per Year

    That's an 150% price hike over the previous lower subscription tier, which to be fair is still an available option, but holy shit!!

    In no way, shape, or form does it make sense for these subscription access games included in this package to be costing you this much, not even with the theory of licensing fees for third party games I've seen floating out there. Pretty much everyone I've seen has said that if that's the case, Nintendo just needs to cut loose the fat and axe the SEGA games to bring the price back down to reasonable levels.

    You no longer even have the option to pay less monthly for a taste of this higher tier, which could've made it a much easier pill to swallow for some. All you can really do to mitigate the massive cost is take advantage of the Family Plan option that also exists for this higher tier at $80 per year or $10 per year per account. That seems to honestly be the way to go with this, although it is annoying having to group up for the savings. But hold on, there appears to be even more going on here.

    There's one more currently known benefit you get from subscribing to this higher tier of Nintendo Switch Online.


    This is a normally $25 paid expansion to the wildly successful and well selling Nintendo Switch quarantine phenomenon Animal Crossing: New Horizons included for free in this higher tier while subscribed. It is also essentially, in essence, Happy Home Designer 2, for those who might remember that 3DS game that took the Animal Crossing property and tweaked it into a game fully focused on the aspect of decorating houses and yards for animal villagers to enjoy.

    Now, even if you're already a big fan of Animal Crossing, that still sort of has a limited appeal aspect to it. The worst part is that you don't even really own it, since your access to the expansion is revoked if your subscription lapses. Nintendo was more than a bit grey over the specifics of that, but thankfully Eurogamer came through and pumped them for the necessary information beforehand on exactly how that's handled. In essence, you can no longer access the new area to do the decorating jobs, but the skills and furniture obtained there that you bring back to enhance your own island will be retained. Personally, that's good enough for me, but still definitely a bummer you don't just own the expansion forever.

    Other gaming subscription services comparable to Nintendo Switch Online will monthly give out full games, not expansions, full games that as long as you download during the period you then get to keep and play for free forever. Previously, people saw the name Expansion Pack and figured it was just a cute nod to the N64 Add-On pictured above or just Nintendo being Nintendo with wanting to label their Season Passes as Expansion Passes and such for keeping the language surrounding their brand familiar but personal.

    Instead, while this is still speculation, it seems this subscription service tier name might actually be taken quite more literally. The N64 and SEGA Genesis games might not be the intended bulk of this new tier of subscription, and instead the Expansion Pack might quite literally be designed around giving consumers an optional package to rent future expansions from Nintendo. If so, Nintendo has once again braved new ground in a weird territory nobody expected or really asked for either. Currently, the value proposition seems far from worth it to most consumers, especially those with no interest in Animal Crossing, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out and evolves, as well as how the value of the tier builds or doesn't over time.

    This won't be a fun topic, but I'm pretty sure we'll need a place for it to keep it from constantly spilling over everywhere else, so go nuts below sharing your own stance, thoughts, frustrations, hopes / worries, scrambling to find a family group, etc. around this topic as the situation continues to grow and evolve.

  • i'll pay for it because i want the N64 games especially with their added online feature, but i kinda don't really care about the Sega Genesis games and would much rather they included other systems like GBA or Gamecube games as part of the service instead.

    and the Animal Crossing DLC is nice but is pretty much worthless to me since i don't care about Animal Crossing,

    i'll pay the increase because i want the N64 stuff but Nintendo is overcharging here and will definitely need to give subscribers better reasons to continue subscribing in future than what is currently on offer if they're going to charge almost as much as PS Plus and Xbox Live subscriptions

  • There's no way to just get the expansion pack for one month right? I would love to just blast through all the N64 games I'm interested in in a month. Otherwise, I do not care about this at all, lol. I already got Sony bamboozling my wallet with PS Plus, I don't need Nintendo to jump in as well.

  • @bam541 said:

    There's no way to just get the expansion pack for one month right?

    There's a chart on the website that shows the option plans if you scroll down, so I feel like I can confidently say that's not going to be an option sadly.

  • @dmcmaster I don’t even know where to begin here

  • Supposing that instead of bringing a handful of huge if predictable N64 games to the Expansion Pass, Nintendo opted to keep the subscription fee but gave us a host of great Nintendo GameCube games like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Eternal Darkness, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Mario Kart: Double Dash and F-Zero GX-then the price would be worth it.

  • I see little issue with the price of the Expansion Pack.

    1. It still costs less than the competing services. PlayStation Plus is $60 a year, and Xbox Game Pass is $120 a year, which doesn't include Xbox Live Gold (needed for online multiplayer). Both Game Pass and Gold together, called Game Pass Ultimate, costs $166 for the first year, then $180 each following year. And a clarification to the OP - while both PS Plus and Game Pass give you free permanent add-ons and discounts towards purchasing games, PS Plus does not give you free full games you can play forever without an active account, and while Game Pass (the much more expensive service) does, they are only Xbox 360 games, not Xbox One/Series X games.

    2. Nintendo has a cachet within video games. On the whole, games made by Nintendo are more highly prized than games from other publishers. They tend to still sell well years after being released even while still near or at full price. YOU may not want to may X amount, but typically enough people DO to warrant keeping the price high.

  • If you get the family subscription it's like 10$ a year for each person.

  • @phbz that's assuming you know others that not only have switches, but also want to take part in subscribing with you as well though.

    great value if you can organise a group like that, but it's not going to be for everyone

  • @oscillator said:

    while both PS Plus and Game Pass give you free permanent add-ons and discounts towards purchasing games, PS Plus does not give you free full games you can play forever without an active account

    I thought as long as you downloaded them within the free period while subscribed you kept them, even after subscription lapsed. That's not the case? We were always subscribed, so I guess I never knew they would all go away.

    @DMCMaster Briefly covered that above. I don't know how much I buy it. People always believe what that person says, even though they're often wrong. I feel like, at best, they're not completely right, and they're right about the concept that it is so expensive because of licensing, but not solely because of SEGA licensing, but including stuff like Microsoft allowing Banjo Kazooie later and probably alot more we don't know about yet.

  • Picture attached isn't from the service. Just something I already had saved.

    Also, I've seen a tweet complaining about Input Lag for Ocarina of Time's port but another praising Star Fox 64's port as the best yet, so quality seems maybe all over the place, but I haven't tried either yet so I'd definitely wait for the experts to dig in instead of believing random tweets. Didn't have any Input Lag problems with any of the games I tried, even when connected Online via Wifi to a friend. I'd definitely notice it pretty fast while trying to flutter with Yoshi. Only tested with one friend though, so I've got to get a group of four together sometime to see if that changes anything. I imagine it'll be more dependent on the worst connection quality, no matter the number of people you have.

  • Looks like beta textures in OOT

    So apparently the Japanese version of the N64 emulator got updated...I think.

  • @dmcmaster I definitely want to see experts dig into that one. I've been hearing the most noise around it, and I haven't played that game since playing it on the N64, so I can't really speak for it. Tried Mario 64, which I am way more familiar with, and I definitely felt none of the complaints I'd heard about with that. Just the usual Pro Controller not even close to being a replacement for an N64 Controller, mainly in the degrees of Analog control and replacing C-Buttons with a second Analog Stick for the camera, which makes controlling the camera kind of a nightmare.

  • Gonna be interesting to see what experts say.

    That said at this time I don't really see a need to upgrade just yet. The selection of games across both N64 and Genesis doesn't seem enough to entice me yet, not to mention reports of various emulation issues from (at least what I hear) Is Nintendo just throwing all the roms into a one size fits all solution which is creating issues in some games (screen tearing in Star Fox, input lag in SM64).
    Also while I kinda like the idea of giving DLC away as a added bonus to NSO locking it completely behind NSO+ with no other way to purchase it just seems wrong.

    In a more hypothetical scenario I'd have preferred seeing something like "NSO+ will give you immediate access to these DLC's from other games" with said DLC still being purchasable as a stand-alone item.

    Speaking of only one piece of DLC seems kinda weak, why not add in Fighter Pass 1 for Smash, the Xenoblade 2 DLC (including Torna) and the Mario + Rabbids Season Pass.

  • Between the annual fee, borderline necessary N64 controller, the need for a wired connection to make some games playable, and other nonsense, it sounds like it adds up cost wise. Whereas you can shell out money to just get these games on N64 and skip the headaches.

    Just my opinion, but I feel like it's easier to just find a physical version and about the same price depending on the game.

  • @dmcmaster said:

    locking it completely behind NSO+ with no other way to purchase it just seems wrong

    You can buy Happy Home Paradise standalone separately from the service for a one time fee of $25.

    why not add in Fighter Pass 1 for Smash

    The third party licenses probably don't allow for that.

    the Xenoblade 2 DLC (including Torna)

    That one is a bit weird because Torna was also sold standalone.

    and the Mario + Rabbids Season Pass

    There's barely any value there when you can buy the full game plus DLC frequently for like $20 these days, but sure.

    I think the other DLC they should've included was Age of Calamity DLC and the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion DLC.

    @DIPSET said:

    borderline necessary N64 controller

    I would upgrade that to absolutely necessary for most of the games.

    the need for a wired connection to make some games playable

    Played some with a friend over wifi, and it was just fine. Of course if someone is on spotty wifi, that's never going to be fine, and it has nothing to do with the service really.

    Whereas you can shell out money to just get these games on N64 and skip the headaches.

    I think you have a whole new set of problems doing that, especially because there's zero online options there. The comparison is more Expansion Pack versus Emulator configured for Online, which is way more of a hassle to setup with friends and get into the games, but it can be a smoother experience, depending on the game. Even on PC, N64 Emulation still isn't great. The system is notoriously difficult to emulate properly without a bunch of emulation errors.

  • admin

    That Twitter back and forth on Zelda is really curious. I have no idea what's going on there. It looks like it's completely bugged out for one person but fine for another?

    EDIT: Oh, looks like there's something off with the guy who replied, so original screenshot probably still stands. Hoping Nintendo actually pays attention and fixes that.

  • the fact that users are already experiencing problems with N64 games on NSO on day one isn't a good sign.

    if Nintendo doesn't fix this shit fast this type of stuff isn't going to encourage people to continue subscribing to the expansion pass in the future

  • @mbun
    I was just using those as examples (also I forgot Torna got a standalone release), I was just trying to say if DLC is going to be included look thru the first party catalog of games that have DLC and offer more then just one single piece of DLC, and I used those games because they have been out awhile (Also Rabbids has a sequel coming).

    That said as things sit now I don't see much reason to get NSO+, unless they announce that NSO+ members get added discounts on the eshop similar to PS+.