Nintendo Switch Online has had a bit of a rocky start. The service meant to act as the Nintendo answer to PlayStation+ and Xbox Live Gold was beset with criticism from the outset. Nintendo offered a lacking feature set and had some issues dealing with consumer demand. The primary complaints surrounding the Switch online component was a lack of features many had become accustomed to on other platforms. Cloud Saves were spotty, the number of free games or other addons was slim, and a handful of other minor issues plagued the launch.
Now though it appears as though Nintendo has managed to bring the opinion of users to a pretty positive state. Nintendo president, Shuntaro Furukawa, has announced that the company continues to pull in millions of users onto the premium service. Nearly one-third of all Switch owners pay for the online component. According to Daniel Ahmad, Senior analyst at Nike Partners, there’s still some work left to do. Playstation Plus currently has 38.8 million subscribers, which is nearly 40% of the total userbase.
Of course, Nintendo made the right call when it bundled online play for games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate into the premium service, but there are other bright spots too. The inclusion of a limited library of retro games has also helped spike paying users up to a high of 15 million. Nintendo has said that they will be slowly bringing new games to the retro offerings, but at a much slower pace than fans had hoped.
Although Nintendo admits that it has experienced a pretty high churn rate, that’s paying users leaving the service. This has been quickly replaced by new users joining up, but this growth cannot last forever. As of now, the Switch has sold around 52 million consoles, and its growth could taper off in 2020 with the launch of the Xbox Series X and PS5. The portability of the console and the strength of the library could help backstop slowing Switch sales, but it’s questionable by how much.
Pricing for Nintendo Switch Online breaks down to $3.99 a month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 a year.