Nintendo’s Virtual Console, the service that offered classic video games from previous console generations and arcade machines, isn’t coming to Nintendo Switch. The company told Kotaku in a statement that it has “no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.”
The fate of the Virtual Console on Switch has been unclear since well before Nintendo’s latest system launched last year. In the lead-up to its current console launch, Nintendo neither confirmed nor denied it would bring the Virtual Console, which first launched on the Wii in 2006, to Switch. It said it was “still undecided” on reviving the service for a fourth platform, and instead indicated that it would try something new: offering a selection of classic games as part of its online subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online.
But other companies have made it increasingly clear that Nintendo had no plans for a Virtual Console for Switch. Publishers like Square Enix, SNK and Capcom have released or plan to release collections of classic 8-bit and 16-bit games for Switch outside of the Virtual Console banner. Nintendo itself has worked with retro specialist Hamster to release its vintage arcade games for the Switch under the Arcade Archives brand. Last month, Sega announced it was reviving its Sega Ages line of classic console and arcade games, specifically for Switch.
Nintendo’s plans (or lack thereof) for Virtual Console on Switch is a blow to owners of the wildly successful hybrid console. Fans have expressed hope that Nintendo might allow transfer of Virtual Console games that were purchased on the Wii, Wii U or Nintendo 3DS to Switch, saving them from yet another purchase of a classic Nintendo game. The system’s ability to be played at home on a television or on the go made it feel like the perfect platform on which to play classic games from Nintendo’s handheld and console platforms.
Instead, Nintendo fans will have to make do with the company’s current alternatives. There’s the Super NES Classic Edition mini console, which includes 21 built-in SNES games, and the NES Classic Edition will return to store shelves this summer. The Virtual Console is still alive and well on Wii U and 3DS, though the service is set to close next year on the Wii, when the Wii Shop Channel shuts down forever.
And there is Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo’s online multiplayer subscription service, which launches this September. The arrival of that service will bring with it at least 20 retro games from the NES era, each with new online multiplayer features. Nintendo says it will continue to add more classic titles as part of its Nintendo Switch Online service, but details, such as games, additional console platforms and long-term access to those games, are still scant.