20/10/2021   Katie Holt
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack priced closer to PS Plus

Nintendo has revealed that its new subscription tier ‘Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack’ will be priced at $49.99/€39.99/£34.99 per year for a single user, or $79.99/€69.99/£59.99 for family membership, which includes up to eight accounts in a single ‘Family Group’.

As covered previously by Ampere, Nintendo recently revealed Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, a platform subscription that will offer all the benefits of the basic Switch Online subscription plus a selection of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive titles. It was also newly revealed that the upcoming Happy Home Paradise DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be included at no extra cost. Pricing was surprisingly missing from the original reveal considering its availability at the end of October.

New Switch Online tier costs around double that of the standard tier

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack costs almost double that of the standard tier in the UK and over double in the US. This regional pricing disparity is likely due to currency fluctuations since the launch of the basic service.

Eschewing the current trend of being able to take a games subscription for a month and cancel anytime, Nintendo’s new subscription can only be taken for 12 months. This contrasts with the basic subscription which can be taken monthly, 3-monthly, and annually. This removes the ability of consumers to subscribe for a month to play a specific game or, indeed, the upcoming premium DLC for Animal Crossing. The later addition of Happy Home Paradise likely removed any chance of a shorter membership option being made available as it would have certainly cannibalised premium DLC sales, but may also have exposed additional gamers to the franchise and driven additional Animal Crossing base game sales.

The annual membership-only option might also reflect that Nintendo is concerned about its ability to add new games to this tier of the subscription on a regular basis to fight off churn. This commercially safe approach is less about reaching and engaging as broad an audience as possible - the strategy Microsoft is taking with Game Pass - and is more rooted in traditional console market strategic thinking. 

A 12-month PlayStation Plus membership retails for $59.99/€59.99/£49.99. Microsoft no longer offers a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold as it pushes users to its Game Pass Ultimate offer, but users can purchase a three-month subscription for a total of $103.96/€79.96/£71.96 per year. Nintendo’s platform subscription continues to cost less than both Sony’s and Microsoft’s but has fallen more closely into line with Sony’s PS Plus based on current pricing. To date, the quality of free content offered by Nintendo Switch Online has been questioned by gamers in comparison with other services. As demonstrated in the chart below, Ampere’s games consumer research shows that subscribers to Nintendo Switch Online (62%) are less likely to state that the service gives good access to free premium video games than PlayStation Plus (72%) or Xbox Live Gold (67%) subscribers.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC added to the new Switch Online tier

Happy Home Paradise DLCa paid expansion pack for Animal Crossing: New Horizons costing $24.99/€24.99/£22.49, will be added to Nintendo’s new Switch Online tier at no extra cost. Released in March 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons quickly rose to become the second highest-selling title on the Switch, with more than 34m units sold globally to date although no major content updates have been published. Thus, Happy Home Paradise is highly anticipated and should drive uptake of Nintendo’s new subscription particularly among audiences who entered the ecosystem through the game and may see little value in retro Nintendo content.

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