Seriously Nintendo, do you not like (more) money?
Nintendo’s Virtual Console catalogue on Nintendo 3DS, Wii and Wii U has always proved immensely popular and, with the release of Nintendo Switch, fans around the world have been eager to see when Virtual Console will come to the platform. Turns out, Nintendo have no plans to bring it to Switch at all.
In an email to Kotaku, a Nintendo spokesperson confirmed that “there are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems”.
That’s certainly unexpected, as we know the Nvidia Tegra X1 that powers the Nintendo Switch is capable of effortlessly emulating retro games all the way up to the Nintendo Wii. We also know that Nintendo plans to roll out NES games to those who subscribe to its Nintendo Switch Online service so Nintendo’s statement may not be as devastating as first seems.
For instance, Nintendo claims that it won’t be bringing “classic games together under the Virtual Console banner”, but it doesn’t state that it won’t be bringing classic games to the Switch at all. The Nintendo Switch Online NES games is just one sign that classic games will be on the switch, albeit with revamped features and online multiplayer.
“There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections,” the Nintendo spokesperson said. “Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.”
Going forward, it’s likely Nintendo will be bringing revamped or remastered titles to Switch instead of offering up a straight emulation. Virtual Console was incredibly popular, but it was also terribly fragmented, with some Virtual Console games only available on certain systems. By moving away from the VC template, Nintendo can publish what it likes without any expectations to suddenly drop a huge number of NES, SNES and N64 games. It’s also likely we’ll see Nintendo bring collections of games to market too, similar to how Sega is bringing its Mega Drive collection of titles to Switch with Sega Ages and the regular ACA NeoGeo games that come to the eShop.
Nintendo isn’t stupid though. Both its NES and SNES Classic Mini consoles have proven immensely popular, showing the company that there’s definitely an appetite for Nintendo’s retro games. With well over 18 million Nintendo Switch owners, it knows the platform is an untapped opportunity for retro games. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (itself a Wii U remake, lest we forget) played off nostalgia and a desire to share retro-styled platformers with a younger audience as its key selling points. Not tapping into this further would be a huge misstep and Nintendo knows that adding in retro game support is essentially a licence for it to print money.