Back in September, Nintendo debuted their new subscription-based online service, Nintendo Switch Online. Customers could previously play online games for free on Switch, but that feature now costs around $20 per year. In exchange, Nintendo offers features like cloud saves and an expanding digital library of NES games.
This service has been met with mixed reviews by critics and fans, and Nintendo is aware that it needs improving. Speaking with shareholders at the most recently quarterly event, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa fielded questions about Nintendo Switch Online. Importantly, he acknowledged that Nintendo needs to “enhance the content of the service.”
Question: You explained during the presentation that over half of all people who purchased subscriptions to the Nintendo Switch Online service opted for a 12-month Family or Individual Membership. Could you give us more details about things like the number of subscribers at launch, or region and age range information about these subscribers?
Furukawa: We think Nintendo Switch Online had a good launch, but the service has only just begin, so we have no plans to disclose any current subscriber ratios or number of subscribers at this time. Our objective for launching the service is to bring “More Games. More Features. More Fun.” to Nintendo Switch. Our focus at this point is boosting the appeal of the service. We need to further enhance the content of the service for the subscriber base to reach a certain size, so that is what we’re working on, with the understanding that the time it will take to do so will be measured in years.
As for the kind of service this will develop into in the future, Nintendo Switch Online is essentially a digital service, but we are also offering controllers specifically for use with the Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online exclusively to subscribers of the service. We see the need to develop the service beyond being merely digital, in ways play to our strengths as a company that operates as an integrated hardware and software business.
Currently Nintendo Switch Online’s digital library is limited to NES games, which means it’s missing an enormous wealth of fan-favorite titles on Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Boy (including Color and Advance), and more. Expanding that digital library is one way Nintendo Switch Online could improve. Furukawa also indicated that he wants to find non-digital ways to expand the service, but it’s not clear what he has in mind.
Although he notes that “the time it will take to do so will be measured in years,” Nintendo will hopefully begin enhancing the service much more rapidly than that. It will simply take them a long time to gain the respect and online community on Switch that other services, like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, have earned over many years.