Many have pondered why the Nintendo Switch lacks a virtual console like its predecessors, the Wii and the Wii U. There was such an excellent collection of classic games you could buy from previous consoles, like the NES and SNES. There were even select Wii games that were available on the Wii U for purchase. The Nintendo Switch lacks this feature entirely. In fact, the UI for the Switch feels incredibly rudimentary, although that’s not a knock on the system itself. It’s very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Still, the lack of a virtual console is a huge concern for many Switch owners. What many don’t realize is that as of this moment, the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console isn’t needed. It may come in time, but not anytime in the near future.


Nintendo Switch Virtual Console isn't Needed

“Nindies”, or independent games available on the Nintendo Switch eShop, are a core part of the identity of the Nintendo Switch. The Switch has the best collection of independent games compared to any other console and they sell very well. Their “Nindies” brand is incredibly strong. This summer Nintendo even had a Nindies showcase in the style of their Nintendo Directs.

A virtual console, with all the retro games everyone wants to re-purchase for the fourth or fifth time, would take away from the sales of independent games. Nindies are a cornerstone of the Nintendo Switch. Independent developers love the system and their games sell very well on the platform. In fact, they are selling better on the Switch than any other platform.

Nintendo spotlights their games quite frequently. A virtual console at this point would merely detract from this and independent developers would suffer for it. Celeste just released on the Nintendo eShop and is garnering incredible reviews. IGN gave it a perfect score. Although yes, it is being released on other platforms as well, it’s currently the top selling game on the Nintendo eShop.  The same cannot be said for other platforms. It’s outselling the likes of ZeldaMario, and Mario Kart in terms digital sales. That is extraordinary.

NES and SNES Classic

Nintendo Switch Virtual Console isn't Needed

The NES and SNES Classics have been enormous hits for Nintendo. The SNES Classic contains 21 of the system’s greatest games of all time and the NES Classic has 30 classic games from the console that changed gaming forever. Nintendo revealed at their quarterly briefing that the SNES Classic has sold four million units so far, although no date is given for when that sell-through date is. That’s almost double what the NES classic sold. Let’s assume the sell-through date is, in fact, December 31 like the Switch’s in the report. The system launched on September 29. That means the system moved about 1.3 million units a month. The Nintendo Switch has been out since March and has sold almost 15 million units through December 31. It launched in March 2017. The Switch sold roughly 1.6 million units a month. This means Nintendo sold 19 million home consoles this year. Impressive!

Nintendo Switch Virtual Console isn't Needed

The point of this is is that the Super Nintendo Classic sold at a lightning fast pace, with limited supply, and was also much more difficult to find than the Nintendo Switch. I was lucky to be able to find two; one for myself and one for my parents for Christmas. If Nintendo is selling retro game consoles with classic software, why should they be putting these older games on the Nintendo Switch when these consoles have sold so incredibly well? Straight from Nintendo’s quarterly earnings report:

During fall of last year, we brought back the nostalgic Super Nintendo Entertainment System as a palm-sized home console. Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition has reached 4 million units in global sell-through.

We have announced that we will resume production for NES Classic Edition this year. We plan to continue selling NES Classic Edition and Super NES Classic Edition this year. We view them as an opportunity to garner interest in Nintendo Switch from those who have not interacted with video games in a long time, or ever.”

A Virtual Console Makes No Sense

Nintendo Switch Virtual Console isn't Needed

The SNES Classic is selling phenomenally, the NES Classic sold incredibly well until it was discontinued last year, and now these consoles are two of the cornerstones of Nintendo’s overall strategy. Putting a Virtual Console on the Nintendo Switch would only cut into the sales of the NES and SNES Classics, as well as indie games. They would be contradicting the very brand they have tried so hard to build and damage the relationships they have developed with independent developers.

With the resumption of the NES Classic production and the dedication to continue to sell the SNES Classic, there’s no reason for a dedicated Virtual Console on the Nintendo Switch from a business perspective. They can make a lot more money selling the SNES and NES Classic consoles than putting these games on the eShop, cutting into indie game sales and the sales of the SNES Classic and NES Classic.

In fact, this may be Nintendo’s strategy moving forward. We very well may see an N64 Classic next year. Can I please get some Wave Race and Cruis’n USA?

About The Author


Morgan Lewis is a Video Game Journalist and is the Founder, Owner, and Editor-in-Chief of VGCultureHQ. He has been writing about games for over six years and has written over 2,000 articles during that timespan. He first fell in love with gaming when he received A Link to the Past for Christmas when he was six and is the guywazeldatatt. He also loves anime and anything that has to do with gaming culture and Tetsuya Takahashi games. He is also a huge anime and Star Wars fan.

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