The Switch is nearly eight months into its life cycle at this point. While this system is definitely off to a good start, there are a few notable complaints that have been echoed time and again. One of the most popular ones is the seemingly massive desire for the Virtual Console service. Personally, I don’t really get why this feature is wanted so badly.
The Virtual Console service was introduced alongside the Wii back in 2006 as one of the system’s selling points. When Nintendo first announced the Wii a year prior, the reveal of the Virtual Console was met with a lot of praise. Many people were excited to play classic games from both past Nintendo systems as well as other retro consoles like the SEGA Genesis. The Virtual Console essentially made the Wii a ‘super system’ of sorts, possessing a library that consisted of generations worth of games, including full backward-compatibility with its predecessor, the Gamecube.
After the success of the Virtual Console service on the original Wii, Nintendo then brought it over to the 3DS and then later on the Wii U in a slightly more upgraded fashion. It is fair to mention that the 3DS and Wii U VC libraries weren’t as well received as the Wii due to the slow release of titles, many of which that were also considered to be unwanted in the first place. Unlike the last few Nintendo systems, the Switch has no native backward-compatibility. This isn’t surprising due to its hybrid design being very different than any other console. With this being the case, the Virtual Console service would essentially be a little more special this time around. But, how big of a deal is it really?
While I already mentioned that the VC on the original Wii was met with a lot of praise, let me ask an honest question: how many people do you know bought the Wii just for the sake of the VC? The initial reveal was well received by the gaming media and community—the sector of the market that would care the most. As we all know, the Wii sold over 100 million units. Most of those sales consisted of casual consumers who were mostly swayed in by titles like Wii Sports and Just Dance. Ask the average Wii owner if they’re even aware of the Virtual Console. In fact, do the same to the average 3DS and Wii U owner.
The announcement of the Virtual Console at E3 2005 was surprising, but how many of the 100+ million Wii owners took advantage of it?
The novelty of the retro titles on the Virtual Console is mainly appreciated by gamers who are old enough to have a sense of nostalgia about them. Most younger players don’t care nearly as much as their older counterparts who’ve been around since the ‘golden era’ of gaming. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying that it’s fundamentally pointless for the VC to be a thing. I’ve enjoyed some classic titles on my 3DS like OutRun. Technically that specific title isn’t a part of the VC service, but it’s still a game that came from an era before I even existed. Despite its age, I find it really cool. Even so, I still don’t completely understand why so many folks are constantly complaining about the VC service not making its way to Switch yet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo decides to introduce the Switch Virtual Console alongside the premium Switch Online network which is set to go live sometime in 2018. That’s not terribly far off, but there are already a very vocal batch of Switch owners who want the VC service right now. The way I see it is like this: the Switch already has a plethora of games both available and scheduled to release. There are AAA releases and dozens of indie titles to play. In fact, some are saying that the Switch has too many games to play right now. Since the end of summer, it seemed like the game release floodgates have been steadily opening, and now the deluge is rushing in. With this being the case, is anyone really losing much by not having the Virtual Console up and running yet? It’s definitely a question to take into consideration.
While I may seem to be putting down the Virtual Console, it’s not exactly like that. With the Switch being a hybrid system, it’s certainly cool to imagine retro titles being both home and portable experiences. That functionality would be even cooler if games from the N64 and Gamecube eras are released. With this being the case, it’s arguable that the Switch is basically the perfect machine for the Virtual Console. If Nintendo plays its cards right, the system could end up having the best Virtual Console lineup since the Wii, with the added benefit of the hybrid functionality. With this having been said, I can definitely see why some folks are excited for the Switch Virtual Console. Even so, I still can’t help but come back to the point I mentioned earlier: there are a lot of new games for everyone to play right now. This isn’t the Wii U days—the Switch isn’t really starving for releases. So, just sit back, relax and enjoy the games. The Virtual Console will come in time.