Image for article titled Should You Subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack?

For all of Nintendo’s awards and praise, one area the company consistently draws criticism is its online experience. Compared to competitors like Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo has always been behind in letting people play games with friends and purchase digital content. The company is trying to improve, though, with a new “Expansion Pack” tier for the online service, offering new features and exclusive content. So, is it worth it?

What features do you get with Nintendo Switch Online?

Let’s talk about what you get with a traditional Nintendo Switch Online plan. The standard option gives you access to online play (surprise, surprise), retro gaming with NES and SNES titles, the ability to save your game data to the cloud, access to the Nintendo Switch smartphone app, and additional special offers you wouldn’t receive without a subscription.

How much does Nintendo Switch Online cost?

This plan comes with three different payment options; you can pay monthly, which will cost you $3.99 per month. If you want to save a little money without committing too much, you can up your plan to pay $7.99 every three months. The best value, though—if you know you are committed to Nintendo Switch Online—is the annual plan, at $19.99 for 12 months. If more than one person in your circle wants to subscribe, there is also a family membership that costs $34.99 for the year. Even if only one additional person uses it, this is your best deal, as it’s still five bucks cheaper than the two of you subscribing separately.

What features do you get with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack?

Nintendo’s Expansion Pack for Nintendo Switch Online comes with some enticing new features; the company is finally adding new retro games to its platform, starting with the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis consoles. These games have high resolutions and save points, as well as local or online multiplayer (for compatible games). Nintendo also offers real N64 and Sega Genesis controllers if you want to fully relive the golden age of retro gaming (sold separately, of course).

Which N64 games are included in the Expansion Pack?

  • Dr. Mario 64
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Mario Tennis
  • Sin & Punishment
  • Star Fox 64
  • Super Mario 64
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • WIN BACK: COVERT OPERATIONS
  • Yoshi’s Story

Which Sega Genesis games are included in the Expansion Pack?

  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Contra: Hard Corps
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Golden Axe
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • M.U.S.H.A.
  • Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
  • Ristar
  • Shining Force
  • Shinobi 3
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Strider

The Expansion Pack also comes with the Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC “Happy Home Paradise,” which places you in charge of designing vacation homes for residents on a new island resort. The DLC costs $24.99 on its own, but comes free of charge with an Expansion Pack subscription.

How much does Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack cost?

The expansion pack does not come with one-month or three-month payment options; instead, you need to commit to 12 months right at the get-go. That price is $49.99, which is $30 more than the annual Nintendo Switch Online regular service. A family membership, on the other hand, costs $79.99, $45 more than the base plan.

On the surface, that does seem like a significant hike; if you’re used to only paying $20 for the year, having your subscription more than double in price is not something to ignore. Break it down by monthly price, however, and it doesn’t seem so steep; you’re really paying $2.50 more per month for the expansion pack than the regular annual subscription, $1.50 per month more than the three-month plan, and 17.5 cents more than the monthly subscription.

Is Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack worth it?

I think this Expansion Pack is worth it for a specific type of Nintendo fan. If you love retro gaming—and the convenience that comes with playing those games on your Switch—then that extra price might not seem too steep for you. After all, an extra $2.50 per month to play Ocarina of Time or Sonic anywhere you want could be the right price for some.

It’s also a no-brainer if you want the Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC. Since that DLC is $24.99 on its own, you would be spending $44.98 for an annual Nintendo Switch Online plus Happy Home Paradise. For five dollars more, you could have access to a year’s worth of N64 and Genesis games. Now, if you have zero interest in those titles, then sure, save the five bucks. But I think this plan is really geared for Animal Crossing players who would also benefit from these retro games to boot.

However, those are the only main selling points here. If you don’t play Animal Crossing, or you aren’t interested in the new DLC, then the Expansion Pack suddenly seems a bit pricey for the value. You need to really love N64 and Sega Genesis, because those games are going to be what your extra $30 is going toward. For gamers who know their way around an emulator or two, you might not feel that additional fee is worth it.

You don’t need to buy the Expansion Pack right now

Here’s the good news; there’s no need to rush. First of all, you can’t even subscribe right now, as the service doesn’t launch until Oct. 25. Even when the service does launch, however, there’s really no time limit to make a decision. Happy Home Paradise doesn’t come out until Nov. 5, so a crucial component of the Expansion Pack won’t be available right away. Plus, if you wait, you might see new N64 and Genesis games added to the library, which could make the offer more enticing.

If you do upgrade to the Expansion Pack, Nintendo gives you a pro-rated discount based on the number of days left in your previous subscription. You could decide to renew your Nintendo Switch Online subscription for $19.99, then turn around the next day and subscribe to the Expansion Pack; Nintendo will simply take most of that $19.99 off the Expansion Pack’s price tag.

In short, the answer to whether or not Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is worth your money might just be to wait.