Nintendo announced today that the Virtual Console for Switch will not be live for the launch of the system.
Although this is sigh-worthy, and not exactly surprising given Nintendo's spotty support for the service since it began began on #Wii, it's not the end of the world.
After all, I don't think many people are buying the Switch on launch day to play Virtual Console games. The Switch-buzz at launch will mainly be about Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, and rightfully so.
However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how Virtual Console will work for the Switch. What systems will be represented? Are we going to get #GameCube games? Wii games? #DS games? Will Nintendo introduce some sort of cross-buy service so we don't have to keep buying the same game over again? Will they actually market the service this time?
There is so much potential for the Virtual Console, but Nintendo has consistently treated it like an afterthought. Even after the insane demand of the #NES Classic system that they never came close to meeting, it will be interesting to see if Nintendo finally realizes — after over ten years of the Virtual Console being active, over three different systems — what a gold mine they are sitting on with their classic games.
Given how much technology Nintendo has packed into their Joy-Con controllers for Switch, the Switch has the potential to be the ultimate system for classic games. With the exception of Virtual Boy (which no one probably wants anyway), and #WiiU (which games we're probably going to see remasters of on Switch), it seems the Switch has the potential and portability to be a classic gaming juggernaut for all of Nintendo's platforms. Being able to "switch" back and forth from your TV to the portable system is just as appealing with classic games as it is with new games.
Here are three ways Nintendo could make the Virtual Console more popular on Switch:
1. We Need Virtual Console Pokémon Games
Last year, and for the first time, Nintendo released classic, mainline Pokémon games on the Virtual Console. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow came to the 3DS. The result? Within a couple months, the games had been downloaded 1.5 million times. For three #GameBoy games that are all about 20 years old, that is fantastic. Nintendo should seriously think about releasing other games in the mainline series for either 3DS, Switch, or both.
#Pokemon=money. Take our money, Nintendo!
2. Add Consistent Support
Nintendo has a bad habit of trumpeting the Virtual Console, supporting it for a little while, and then pretending like it doesn't exist. If you don't agree, look at what is going on with the 3DS right now. There hasn't been an NES game released on its Virtual Console for over two years, and the #SuperNintendo support that Nintendo made a big deal about last year in a Nintendo Direct seems to have dried up as well.
Where are Yoshi's Island and Super Mario RPG? Where are the classic Square RPGs like Final Fantasy III (VI) and Secret Of Mana? Is Nintendo talking to Square about getting those games on the 3DS?
More consistent support for the system, with games, with marketing, and with sales, could do wonders for the service.
3. Cross-Buy, For The Love Of God
Having to buy the same game over and over again isn't fun. I'm always happy to see Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Super Mario Bros. 3 come out for a new Nintendo system for people to play and enjoy. But if you're someone who already has those games on two other systems, you're not going to be eager to play it on Switch if you have to pay full price for it yet again.
Instituting a cross-buy feature for people who have already supported a game by buying it legally (instead of easily downloading a ROM off the internet for free), would be a nice way for Nintendo to show appreciation to those who support the Virtual Console.
Don't keep dinging the user base for the same games. It fosters customer resentment, and will make some disregard the service entirely. If they've already paid for it on one system, let them download it for free on their new system.
With Nintendo's upcoming paid online service on Switch, I'm cautiously optimistic that Nintendo will offer a more robust Virtual Console service this time around. The Switch has Wii-like potential to reach the masses, and if it reaches that potential, I would love to see those masses buying Virtual Console games this time around--and Nintendo providing a more robust library this time around.
How would you like to see Nintendo improve their Virtual Console service? What games would you like to see? What systems? Leave your comments below!