Nintendo Online Service isn’t great but they’re doing one thing right
The Switch still doesn’t have a proper Nintendo Online Service but what are Nintendo currently doing better than their rivals when it comes to online? Craig explains what he wants to see more of …
Nintendo has never managed to get to grips with online in a way that everyone can get on board with. That’s not an opinion or a debatable statement to make, it’s just a fact.
Whether it’s friend codes, a lack of cloud saves or just an inability to get its online infrastructure right for over a decade; Nintendo’s online offerings pale in comparison to both Sony and Microsoft.
There is one area of modern games where the masters of the Switch are excelling though.
In today’s age of microtransactions and loot boxes plaguing games and harassing gamers all over the digital shop, we’re yet to witness a Nintendo-developed game appear on their hardware that encourages players to part so readily with their cash to the detriment of the game’s balance. Perhaps this should be expected, rather than applauded. However, out with the dreaded microtransaction and loot box double whammy that often invades our games; Nintendo has had a wonderful ability to prolong the games that you’ve bought in recent years with little to no fanfare or praise from the wider community. Games such as Arms and Splatoon owe their popularity, in-part, to Nintendo’s continued support and an addition of free updates, adding characters, stages and balance tweaks to each game whilst also keeping building a small community of gamers and giving it ample time to grow.
A game such as Arms, for example, is likely to have died shortly after launch on any other platform. It’s colourful and bizarre mechanics only resonated initially with a limited audience, however, after numerous free updates that saw the game not only get new characters and arenas but also focus on tournaments and specific events, it gave Arms room to grow and become part of the Switch conversation for a lengthy amount of time – long enough for it to not just cultivate a following but also grow.
The original Splatoon followed a similar path, with weekly updates of new weapons, clothes and eventually stages being showered upon a growing community; if relatively insignificant when compared to other platforms, such was the Wii U’s dismissal sales figures.
Despite the Wii U though, Splatoon still garnered a following and community which saw Splatoon 2 sell exceedingly well on the Nintendo Switch last year. Without the support and free updates that were provided to owners of the original Wii U game, you have to wonder whether or not Splatoon 2 would’ve been the critical and commercial success that it became.
Nintendo’s free updates for existing games have also stretched beyond the realms of multiplayer, with their two big games of 2017: Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, both receiving significant updates that go beyond a few technical patch updates.
Breath of the Wild received fresh quests in order to give players the opportunity to acquire Rex’s armor from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, while Super Mario Odyssey allowed players to try a new Balloon mode and finally allowed everyone’s second favourite plumber Luigi to have a small role in Odyssey.
These substantial updates have allowed Nintendo to keep their games not only fresh but relevant and constant in the mindshare of people who play games. For the original Splatoon, it helped to cultivate a community and built strong foundations for its sequel. Splatoon was supported for far longer than it had any right to be, with new content still being added more than a year after its release. While the Arms free updates may now have dried up, the support it received from Nintendo allowed it to gain a following; thanks to the free updates it received, perhaps an Arms sequel will do more than flex its muscles.
Whatever Nintendo’s plans might be for Splatoon, Arms or Mario Odyssey, feel free to keep sending us free updates, tweaks and modes for games that we already own. All you’re doing is making them better at no extra cost and we can’t complain about that.
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