Nintendo's Virtual Console brand is dead, and Switch Online is its formal replacement, according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
Since it was introduced on the Wii back in 2006, Virtual Console has become the de facto venue for many nostalgic Nintendo fans, serving up a robust library of the company's most beloved classics. Nintendo confirmed recently, however, that Virtual Console won't continue on the Switch, which left many fans wondering what's comes next.
RIP Virtual Console
Well, there's nothing next for least for the Virtual Console brand. Fils-Aime himself has unequivocally confirmed that Virtual Console is being punted into the sunset.
"The Virtual Console successor is Nintendo Switch Online, right? With the mentality that says we're going to be offering a slate of games, and it's a slate that's going to increase over time," Fils-Aime told IGN. "For many of these games, there's going to be additional online capability provided in those games. That's the vision we have for how to best bring our legacy content to Nintendo Switch."
Nintendo Switch Online Confusion
Like Fils-Aime said, Switch Online will feature a lineup of classic games presumably playable over the cloud. While that sounds clear enough, a lot of the more specific details of its online services are still a little bit fuzzy and leave many Switch owners baffled.
It becomes even more worrisome when one considers the fact that despite nearing launch, Switch Online remains extremely vague. At the moment, Nintendo customers know the following: that the service is paid annually like similar online services from Sony and Microsoft, that it'll offer multiplayer experiences for certain games, and that it'll boast a number of free classic games.
Surely, that's easy enough to understand — or is it, really? Multiplayer is a straightforward concept to grasp, but it's not really clear whether multiplayer will be locked to Switch Online once the service launches. Presently, Switch players are able to play with friends over Wi-Fi for free. Will that functionality be removed with the arrival of the online service?
It also remains uncertain just how many free games Nintendo will offer at any given moment. Will old games sit in some sort of back catalog, or will they be removed once new titles come in?
It's also not clear whether these games will be made available to play offline or require an internet connection. Nintendo also has yet to confirm whether it plans to expand the library to include various other retro platforms, such as the SNES, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and the much-requested GameCube.
Fils-Aime confirming the demise of Virtual Console is an unfortunate but necessary step Nintendo has to make to straighten out its messaging about the Switch Online service. However, it's extremely clear that a lot of things remain questionable, and Nintendo simply has no excuse why it's sharing so little given how long it's been since the service was announced.
Switch Online launches this September. It'll cost $20 per year, but monthly memberships are available for $4.