I know the title of this headline may come off rhetorical. I think the response from the community is very apparent that no one is fully onboard with Nintendo’s new membership pricing plans. Now, another question is, would Nintendo ever consider lowering the price if enough backlash from the community is made? I’ve got to be honest, but I just don’t think they will back down. For those who are unaware of the news, I will break down what this new online membership entails below and why the community is upset about the announcement.
Nintendo surprise dropped the news during their Animal Crossing Direct show on October 15th, 2021. Now, a few months back, they did tease the new online membership so we all knew this was something in the works, we just didn’t know what would be included and what the price would be. They said that the new membership plan will be available starting October 25th, 2021. The price for an individual membership will be $49.99 USD a year for an individual plan, or $79.99 USD for a family plan(includes up to 8 members). That is more than double the original price of the online plan that’s already in place. As it stands, the original membership was only $19.99 USD a year for an individual plan, or $34.99 USD for a family plan a year. Needless to say, the backlash has been relentless for good reason. It’s not just about the price spike that’s got the community mad, it’s that the new membership doesn’t warrant the high costs for such a barebones online infrastructure and even barer content. The price is almost up there with the PSN membership costs and the XBOX Game Pass which offer mores way more perks and benefits than Nintendo Online. In comparison, here are all the features the PS Plus and Xbox Pass memberships give you.
So, what exactly is included you may ask? To start off with, they will be adding some Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games to their online catalog. At launch, the N64 games included are: Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Mario Tennis, Star Fox 64, Yoshi’s Story, Dr. Mario 64, Sin and Punishment, and Winback. For the Sega games, these are the ones slated to release at launch: Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2, Castlevania Bloodlines, Strider, Shinobi 3, Eco The Dolphin, Contra Hard Corps, Golden Axe, Dr Robotniks Mean Bean Machine, Gunstar Heroes, Phantasy Star, IV Shining Force, Ristar, and MUSHA. There are more games they mentioned they also plan on releasing in the future for both of these consoles, but they’ve not released a schedule or time frame on that just yet.
Another feature they included as a selling point to their new membership plan is the new Animal Crossing DLC that is worth $24.99 USD as a standalone. A lot of complaints I’ve seen are people who don’t actually play Animal Crossing suggesting if Nintendo should make another membership tier that omits the DLC since not everyone plays that game nor would be interested in purchasing it. It does seem weird that Nintendo included DLC for a game that not everyone owns. It’s almost like they’re trying to convince you that the price is worth it since they only added a few older games to their online catalog, and the Animal Crossing DLC.
I think for 49.99 USD, this new membership plan is not worth it. What Nintendo really needs to work on is their online infrastructure. There is no built in party system which is annoying since this is something all consoles offer at this point. Voice chat is only available for some games, and you would need to use an app on your phone to even use it. There are no share options available to your friends on the console, which makes adding friends on the console a useless feature altogether. Like why can’t I share a screenshot directly to my friends? It just makes no sense, we aren’t asking for the moon Nintendo. They also don’t give you any type of free triple A title games as PSN and Xbox does on a monthly basis. It seems Nintendo is mostly concerned with gating their old backlog of games. In my opinion, all of this should’ve already been included with their online membership plan since there is nothing more it offers you except for granting you basic access to play online for a handful of their games, and backing up your saves to their cloud server. Again, these are already services membership plans for other consoles offer you. Everyone was ok with accepting the price for the $19.99 membership because it was so cheap, so it was hard to complain. We all know the online isn’t worth even that, so for them to raise the price upwards to $30 more dollars is obscene, given that there is very little being offered.
What do you think of Nintendo’s Online Expansion Pack? Do you think there should be any changes?