Nintendo Switch Online Should Follow in PS Plus Premium’s Footsteps

As subscription services in the general entertainment space have proliferated, each offering access to unique catalogs of movies and television shows, they have become commonplace in the video game industry too. Major publishers keep their games in one digital collection, from EA Play to Ubisoft+. However, console manufacturers arguably have the biggest subscription services: Nintendo Switch OnlinePlayStation Plus, and Xbox Game Pass are huge draws for fans of each respective platform.


That being said, those services appeal to different audiences by virtue of their added benefits. While Nintendo fans need Switch Online to access online multiplayer, they can also access libraries from older consoles, some DLC expansions, free trial periods, and more. PS Plus offers subscribers free games every month, and Xbox Game Pass extends its huge collection to PC gamers too, with services like EA Play under its umbrella. The services also change over time, and PS Plus recently updated its business model with different tiers that offer more rewards for higher costs. As Nintendo has done something similar with Switch Online, it could take notes from how wide PS Plus’ net has become.

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How PlayStation Plus Expanded

PlayStation Plus first launched in 2010, making it a staple for Sony consoles since the PS3 era. While much of the PS4 and PS5 generations have been spent with one blanket service that opens up online multiplayer, cloud storage for game saves, exclusive discounts, and two free downloadable titles each month, in March 2022 Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan detailed the company’s intend to expand PS Plus and combine it with the streaming service PlayStation Now.

The new PS Plus tiers breakdown went live on June 13, offering users a choice in how much content they wanted to access at once. All three tiers currently on offer are:

  • PlayStation Plus Essential: $9.99 USD per-month/$24.99 per-quarter/$59.99 per-year
  • PlayStation Plus Extra: $14.99 USD per-month/$39.99 per-quarter/$99.99 per-year
  • PlayStation Plus Premium: $17.99 USD per-month/$49.99 per-quarter/$199.99 per-year

“Essentials” tier is what users had access to before, namely providing online with a few benefits like discounts and monthly free games. The “Extra” tier adds a library of PS4 and PS5 titles that can be downloaded at any time, including both first-party PlayStation Studios projects and third-party games. Meanwhile, “Premium” subscribers get all the aforementioned benefits, downloadable PS1 and PS2 libraries, cloud streaming access to PS3 games, and limited-time game trials.

As PlayStation Now is being phased out, the March PlayStation Blog post announced those who had bought into that service will have access to PS Plus Premium at launch with no additional fees. Premium tier subscribers can also stream games from the PS Plus catalog to their PC. Some additional benefits also carried over in the transition, for example PlayStation 5 owners have access to an exclusive “PS Plus Collection” of games from the last console generation including Bloodborne, Until Dawn, god of war (2018), and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack

Nintendo Switch Online went through a similar recent change that added different subscription tiers. Those who bought the hybrid console at launch were able to access online multiplayer in games like Splatoon 2 for free throughout its first year. The paid Switch Online service launched in September 2018 with access to a library of NES titles that would expand over the subsequent years. Even more benefits would accrue alongside it, such as a SNES library and access to games like Tetris 99.

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This basic package costs $3.99 USD per-month, $7.99 per-quarter, or $19.99 per-year, and Nintendo offers a family membership for up to eight users that costs $34.99 per-year (less than $5 for each person in a full family plan ). Last year the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack tier was announced, and it quickly became controversial. Nintendo advertised this tier as including libraries of N64 and Sega Genesis titles, as well as DLC expansions for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and more as time goes on. It was later revealed the Expansion Pack tier would launch in October 2021, costing individual subscribers $49.99 USD per-year. The family membership costs $79.99 per-year, which breaks into a more manageable $10 per-person with a full plan. Still, many feel the barrier to entry is too high for how little it adds.

How Switch Online can Learn From PS Plus Premium

While a lot of vitriol was levied at Nintendo soon after Switch Online + Expansion Pack was revealed, its offerings have become more appealing. Classic N64 games such as Paper Mario and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Maskwith Pokemon Snap being introduced later this month, tends to compound its value more than lesser-known NES games. DLC added to the Expansion Pack tier also continues to grow, with offerings like Splatoon 2‘s Octo Expansion suggesting any older Switch game could eventually be enhanced.

Still, its offerings aren’t a lot to write home about when looking at its $50/year price tag for solo accounts. PlayStation Plus Premium is substantially more expensive, to be fair, but that $200 will grant subscribers access to hundreds of games across every PlayStation console on top of benefits like game trials. Rumors and leaks suggest more libraries for consoles like the Game Boy Advance will be added to Nintendo Switch Online, but its slow drip-feed has turned off many.

Nintendo has a rich history in the console space that stretches at least a decade prior to Sony’s PlayStation brand, and the inclusion of handheld systems (as well as unique control schemes inherent to consoles like the Wii) might make it more difficult to pull a comprehensive set of libraries together. Yet, Nintendo Switch Online – and future consoles – would greatly benefit from having access to each generation in one fell swoop the way Sony has pushed its PlayStation Plus Premium tier. Whether that means revamping Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack or adding a third, more expansive “premium” tier that goes beyond the N64 and DLC, it would only help Nintendo in the long-run.

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