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You don’t get to keep the games you get as part of Nintendo’s Switch Online service.

Nintendo is beginning a paid online gaming network for Switch that is similar to Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, except it has a few key differences. Switch Online will begin charging a monthly fee in the fall, and active members will get access to online multiplayer, a party system, and a monthly game download. For those downloads, Nintendo is offering up Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo games with “newly-added online play” at no additional charge. But once the month is over, everyone will lose access to the game unless they purchase it.

That’s a rather restrictive bonus considering that both Sony and Microsoft have a similar feature that gives players a handful of far more modern games at no extra charge, and you always have access to those games as long as you maintain an active subscription to either PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.

Nintendo still hasn’t said how much Switch Online will cost. If it is significantly less expensive than those competing platforms, than maybe the company can get away with this. But, regardless of the price, the publisher is missing the point of a “free games for subscribers” feature. One of the reasons that I never let my Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Network subscriptions lapse — even when I am not regularly playing an online multiplayer game on those systems — is that I don’t want to get locked out of the library I’ve built up over the last couple of years.


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On the Switch, I can either renew my subscription when I want to play an online game or a particularly interesting free monthly download comes along. Otherwise, I can go for months at a time without giving money over to Nintendo.

And is it really worth it to Nintendo to act this stingy with its NES and SNES games? Many fans have purchased and repurchased those games over and over again, so why not ease up a bit and leverage them to improve subscription numbers? Because Nintendo. That’s why.

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