Since the original announcement of the Switch, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been drooling over the thought of the virtual console being available on the system. There were rumors abound of Gamecube games hitting the classics this time around which had me more excited than anything else, the thought of playing the original Luigi’s Mansion anywhere I was. Now we’re nearing six months after the launch of the system and the closest thing we’ve heard is that the launch of the online service next year will include revamped classics you get to play with your subscription. How many of us are not pissed about this as we grow more and more impatient, waiting to find out more. With as quick as I can lean towards getting frustrated about the lack of it so far, Nintendo has made the best decision for the Switch’s longevity by holding off and we should be happy about.
I know, you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you to be happy that the Switch is lacking a major feature the Wii, the Wii U, and the 3DS all have. Hey, even I’m trying to keep that rage level in check that I’m not playing NES Super Mario Bros. right now. It’s all about the sweet 3rd party support that we’ve been bemoaning the lack of for years. If we truly want developers to bring their games to the Switch, we’re going to have to hold off a little bit longer.
What does 3rd party support have to do with no virtual console you may ask? For most people, I think it’s fair to say you probably have X amount of money your going to spend on video games each week, month, year, etc.. During the first 6 months of the launch, would you have been more inclined to buy, say Overcooked, or the original Mario Party. Or Mario Kart 64. Or Pokemon Snap. So on and so on, pitting any of the Nintendo classics against most any 3rd party game that has released so far. Hardcore Nintendo fans certainly focus on anything Nintendo made over most else. If we were flooded with a mix of the classic games we have always enjoyed playing, it probably would have kept you away from some of the fine 3rd party offerings that the Switch has already been seeing.
Even if you think you still would be supporting a lot of the 3rd party releases, do you really think a majority of Switch users would? It’s not hard to imagine looking over the best sellers on the eShop and seeing it filled with several virtual console games if they were available. Instead we have things on top like Sonic Mania, Overcooked, Shovel Knight, I am Setsuna, and more. This is making the system a welcoming environment for developers, making them not have to worry about constantly battling for sales against everything Nintendo.
Beyond the constant stream of games being announced for the system, one of the higher profile developers that we’ve benefited from with this is Capcom. Ultra Street Fighter II sold nearly half a million copies. Honestly, if Nintendo had the virtual console up and running and the original Super Street Fighter II was on it like the Wii and Wii U, would it have sold nearly that amount? I’m betting not. Since the sales announcement, Capcom already announced Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 along with the news that they had several other things in development for the Switch as well.
Now the virtual console will come at some point and Nintendo is going to get plenty of our money when that happens. Our limited funds might start going away from 3rd parties compared to what they are now. Still, having a year without our beloved classics is really giving other developers a chance to win over our hearts. Its showing them that there is room on a Nintendo system for them and we are already seeing the fruits from it. With any luck the Switch install base will continue to grow and 3rd party developers will continue to see solid sales numbers off their titles to convince them and others to continue to release more.
I know personally I have been playing games that I never would have played before if I otherwise had the opportunity to be playing Luigi’s Mansion instead. And I am so happy about it, because the Switch already has plenty of great games from developers that I have fallen in love with. For the system to survive its going to need that 3rd party support to continue, and while disappointing from certain sides, the lack of the virtual console is one of the best decisions Nintendo could have made.