Nintendo abandoning the Virtual Console is a clear step forward for the Switch
We can appreciate the past without having to live in it.
As a matter of fact, this shows the faith that Nintendo has in their record-setting hybrid console by completely untethering it from their library of super old games. No, I’m not saying that those games don’t hold value, yet there are options that are now available, and frankly, I like them a whole lot more as well. It’s better to see Nintendo go all-in on the Switch instead, making sure it is packed with a library of fresh content instead of games that are 30 years old.
Recently, Nintendo informed Kotaku about their lack of plans for the Virtual Console, stating,
There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the last year, as the potential for the Virtual Console has been severely undercut by the release of the mini-consoles like the NES Classic and the SNES Classic. Does this mean there’s a chance down the road that Nintendo works with Konami to release a TurboGrafx Classic? Maybe, but probably not. Instead, this means you will have a library of old Virtual Console games to fiddle around with on the 3DS, while Switch continues to do its own uniquely successful thing.
Forbes Contributor, Jason Evangelho, laments “the dream is dead” while bemoaning the lack of a deeper library with older titles from prior Nintendo consoles. Is that really the dream though? Are we so caught up in the past that we can’t appreciate that Nintendo has been laser-focused on becoming the premier home console for indie games? Nintendo has found a formula that works, they are doing something that neither PlayStation nor Xbox has been able to do. They are, from indie devs lips to our ears, the absolute best console for indie devs, while also maintaining an incredible first-party line-up with brilliant third-party AAA support.
But, no, tell me how literally everyone is disappointed that a $5 emulated copy of Excitebike means we are missing out.
Something to consider is that Nintendo’s Classic console strategy means that it was likely that there was enough business on the Virtual Console market that they wanted to capitalize on it, but not nearly enough that there was any reason to even put effort into making the jump to Switch. Throwing a few handfuls of popular releases onto flash memory and packaging it with nostalgia has a much larger chance to impact the bottom line, instead of hoping that someone is interested enough to buy Double Dragon II on the Virtual Console and struggle with an unnatural controller before giving up on it after 30 minutes.
With their recent announcement and layout of Nintendo’s new online framework, there’s larger potential here. There will be 20 games debuting on the online platform in September, each with their own online-enhanced features. That isn’t a step back from a Virtual Console, it’s a complete evolution of the way Nintendo is doing business. Considering that, this means that Nintendo is looking to add value to their online services. Nintendo has handled online much like my 90-year old grandparents have, with fear and disdain. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
In the end, do it up, Nintendo. Push the Virtual Console aside, welcome more incredibly unique games onto your platform and show the world what can happen when you embrace online. You can’t embrace the future when you are looking at the past.
P.S. – Convince Konami to release a good 2D Castlevania on the Switch. I’ll love you forever.