The latest Nintendo briefing gives Nintendo Switch Online woes a passing (but necessary) acknowledgement.
Nintendo is known for its strong brand loyalty, but the rocky launch of the Expansion Pack membership plan for Nintendo Switch Online, has earned it widespread criticism and its most downvoted video to date. It’s unsurprising then that Nintendo subtly acknowledged a need for improvement in its latest Corporate Management Policy Briefing.
The new tier of membership boasts access to a selection of Nintendo 64 & SEGA Genesis games, as well as the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise DLC. Unfortunately, the N64 emulation has been plagued with issues. Against the background of Nintendo’s anti-piracy crusade and crackdown on ROM sites and emulators, this is leaving a bad taste in some subscribers’ mouths.
Such emulators notably don’t suffer from the same technical issues or library limitations that the official, legal avenue offered does. The expansion is also a hefty price increase compared to the standard offering, although this does bring it in parity with its competitors. Whilst Nintendo shouldn’t necessarily have to compete with free emulation one to one in its value proposition, having technical deficiencies by comparison is certainly a bad look.
“Going forward, we will continue to improve and expand both Nintendo Switch Online and Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, striving to provide services that satisfy customers,” reads Nintendo’s latest briefing.
Whilst we lack specific numbers on Expansion Pack subscribers, overall Nintendo Switch Online continues to fall slightly behind its competitors. With an install base of 92.87 million units, its paid Nintendo Switch Online service now captures 28% of that user base with 32 million members. This is a remarkably consistent ratio with their performance in 2019 when at 52.48 million units sold 29% were signed up. Comparatively, PlayStation now has 47.2 million subscribers, which between the PS5 and PS4’s combined 130 million users works out as an uptake of approximately 36%. If a combined Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S unit base of 59 million is to be believed, 23 million Xbox game pass subscribers works out as an uptake of 38%.
Driving up subscriber uptake by expanding the service whilst matching the PlayStation and Xbox subscription asking price with the Expansion Pack tier seems to be the current approach. We’ll have to see if Nintendo can address the Expansion Pack’s issues in the future to get more of its base on board.