Welcome to the FlipSide, where the good and the bad in video games collide. Every week, I will recap one positive news story, one negative news story, and then explain what I think about both. Let’s begin this week with the good!
I would love to talk about all the positive reviews Horizon: Zero Dawn is receiving this week. However, Joe would fire me for about the fifth time as an editor on the site. Because of this, I will talk about something else this week. Just know that “Greatness awaits” for those who are going to be playing this game on February 28th. With that said, let’s move on to the actual good news of the week!
Nintendo Accounts now have user IDs associated with them. Take the time now to reserve that Nintendo Account User ID before reading on, because you don’t want to have your username taken by someone else. This is not to be confused with the already existing Nintendo Network ID. That ID will continue to remain in use for Wii U and 3DS users going forward. I believe this brings some nice formality to the online services from Nintendo going forward.
The Nintendo online services haven’t been the simplest of platforms. The ID situation hasn’t been very clear to me. You can argue I just don’t know the platform well enough and that’s fair. As someone who is in tune with the industry though, I can’t imagine how confusing this stuff is for a much more average user of these consoles. If you only own one Nintendo platform it seems pretty straightforward, but once you try linking things to each other that’s where I find confusion. It’s getting better and the addition of the official Nintendo Account User ID seems to be clearing up this mess even more. It wasn’t the biggest deal when these accounts were free, but now that we are paying for this service it has to be cleaned up. This is good to see from Nintendo going into their brand new console.
This news becomes more important after a report from NintendoLife states that Switch eShop purchases will be linked to a user account. In the past, purchases have only been tied to the hardware itself. While this is fine for managing software on the device itself, if the unit was stolen or damaged there was no way to recover these purchases. This is changing with the Switch. While not all the details are available on this yet, this is a big step towards catching up with Microsoft or Sony. I never had to experience this frustration, but I couldn’t imagine spending the money I have spent on the PlayStation Store to not have that content available to me if my console ever broke on me. It hasn’t happened to me yet this console generation, but I had a PS3 disc drive stop working and ultimately I had to buy a new console. I would have been pissed if I had to buy those games over again, but now I’m glad that we won’t have to worry about that starting March 3rd on the Nintendo Switch.
However on the FlipSide this week…
Nintendo has announced that the Virtual Console will not be available at launch for the Nintendo Switch. As one of the main features to a current day Nintendo console, this is disappointing to hear. It isn’t going to be the end of the world though. This is only a delay and will make its way onto the Switch at some point. Not having the Virtual Console day one on the brand new console still sucks though and its worth discussing.
I have a couple of major questions about this decision. One is how much longer will we have to wait? We deserve to have this feature at launch considering the lackluster launch lineup, but I can live with a brief delay. Give me a date to be ready for it though. I would even take a time frame for when it would become available. All we have to work with is a statement from Nintendo saying, “We will share more information in the future.” If I knew the launch window for the Virtual Console I wouldn’t be as upset right now. There’s obviously something that’s not ready but how severe is it? Is it a licensing thing for the games that we want on it? Is the emulation not working up to the standard Nintendo wants on the new hardware? Are they still trying to figure out policy for the Virtual Console? I would love an explanation of this in more detail, but we will never get it.
The other question I have is why launch the Switch on this date if the Virtual Console isn’t ready? I’m not saying move the release back to the fall of this year, that would be crazy with a possible new Xbox coming out. How about launching in late March, April, or May? The key to a successful release date is to be out before E3 in my opinion. Not only would it help Nintendo with getting the much important Virtual Console on launch day, but it would also help their first and third party developers. Give them more time to make and polish their games or the opportunity to have their games ready for the launch. One of my main gripes with the Switch day one is the lack of a compelling launch lineup. However, that extra time could give us Arms and Mario Kart at launch which would be awesome alongside Bomberman, Zelda, and Shovel Knight. That would be five huge titles at launch that hits a variety of genres. Then, add in the original reason why I wouldn’t hate a delay, which is the Virtual Console at launch, and you now have this amazing launch library that has me checking Amazon at least 10 times a day for an opportunity to pre-order the Switch. I know this isn’t the most realistic possibility due to shareholders and making them happy, but what if this a actually happened and was the case. I think it would be awesome.
We probably won’t know the answer to my first question in the near future and I’m OK with that. What can’t happen is the release date becoming the major announcement for Nintendo at E3. Because of how important this is for the Switch, this should be a day one feature. Emphasizing that the Virtual Console is coming at E3 would be a waste and should make gamers angry. It’s important to give us news about it at there if we don’t have it yet, but Nintendo needs other announcements to make big noise at the event. For instance, if the Virtual Console is briefly mentioned, then Nintendo goes on to announce a new Metroid and Smash for Switch during their event that would be fine. However, you can’t cut this feature that should be on this new console day one and then make this topic the big splash at E3. It would make Nintendo look very dumb and they will most likely be outmatched by the conferences or events that the other publishers will have. That is never the outcome any publisher wants at E3 whether they will admit it or not.
Nintendo seems to be doing a lot of right by the Switch. It’s good to see from a company that needs this machine to succeed after the commercial failure of the Wii U. Not having the Virtual Console as a launch feature on day one is the first truly bad news about anything software related with the Switch going into day one. There is still a lot to learn about this console, but there is still a lot of positive vibes going into March 3rd. The possibility of “Region free means Mother 3” is very high. We just won’t find out on launch day…sorry Joe. I will be back next week with more of the good and the bad in the world of video games.