Virtual Console Is Not Coming To Switch, Nintendo Says

Perhaps one day, it will be possible to play Link to the Past on your Switch.
Perhaps one day, it will be possible to play Link to the Past on your Switch.

In the wake of news that the Nintendo Switch’s online subscription service will include a Netflix-like library of NES games, fans have been wondering: Is the Virtual Console coming back? The answer to that question is no, according to Nintendo.


“There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems,” a Nintendo spokesperson told Kotaku in an e-mail late last night.

That doesn’t mean Nintendo plans to ignore its older games on the Switch, but it does mean that there won’t be a dedicated brand for the classics. Nintendo’s previous three gaming consoles, the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, each had their own versions of the Virtual Console, a branded shop with a limited selection of classic games from the NES, the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, and other platforms. You could buy and download Virtual Console games piecemeal, then play them on your new console with some extra features, like save states.

Although the library was fragmented and hard to keep track of—Final Fantasy VI, for example, is inexplicably only available on the Wii—the Virtual Console proved appealing to Nintendo fans who wanted to play or re-play entries in the company’s massive classic library, drumming up excitement every week as players waited to see which old games Nintendo would add to the store next.

“There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections,” the Nintendo spokesperson said. “Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.”

One Japanese publisher, Hamster, has already released Switch ports of classic games from the Neo Geo arcade, like Blazing Star and Fatal Fury. Sega has also announced plans to bring its classic Genesis games to Nintendo’s latest platform, a move that signaled the lack of a single unified store for classic games this time around.

Before the system’s launch, rumors had suggested the existence of a Switch Virtual Console that included GameCube games. When asked by Kotaku if games from other platforms will appear on the Switch’s online subscription, Nintendo’s spokesperson said the company had “nothing to announce on this topic.”



Them: “The all-digital future will be great! No one needs physical media anymore! Get with the program, olds!”

Me: “You won’t own a damn thing you purchase (not that we did with physical media either; dem EULAs), and eventually, companies will start selling your childhood back to you via subscription services.”

Them: “You’re just old and don’t get it. No one needs a physical media drive, and no one needs physical media! We can get everything online!”

Me: “And when the means of access are controlled in their totality by the folks who profit from your purchases, you’ll see why this isn’t the best idea; it may well be inevitable—it probably is—but please don’t act surprised when even the ‘good’ companies wind up providing you a surprise Proctology exam.”

Them: “Whatever, old man. Shut up.”

I’ve been on this since online-only shit started up years ago (I was in college when that god-awful PlayOnline! guide was released for Final Fantasy IX; I thought it was a one-off fuckjob at the time, but time and tide have proven that the more companies can push this shit, the more they will), as have others—and while it’s clear we’ll still be able to access a number of classic titles through the e-shop, it’s just a little galling to see the level of surprise surrounding the fact that Nintendo’s going for a subscription-based service on shit we used to be able to purchase a la carte.

Microsoft did it with Office and their XBox games subscription service, Sony did it with their sub service—the idea that Nintendo would somehow not rush to get its share from the golden teat is absolutely laughable. Many are they who will say, “Not X! X would never do Y,” only to be caught out when X invariably does Y—as they were always going to.

*shakes fist at cloud*