Initial Impressions: Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass

Hey all, I know it’s been a while. The pandemic caused a lot of changes for me that caused difficulties in being able to find time to sit down and write, and I’ve always made it a point to not write unless I could put my whole heart and soul into whatever it is I’m passionate about in the moment. Today, it’s my gripes with the upcoming rollout of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass.

First of all, when Nintendo Switch announced that it was coming out with an expansion pass with added costs, I was already leery. In my opinion, the family plan I currently pay for (at $34.99 a year), was already pretty steep given (what I personally view as) a meager library. In other words, Nintendo Switch Online to me was already like an extremely expensive library card. At some point, you just wish you could just pay for the select games to be able to play forever without the yearly cost.

That said, I was extremely excited when I heard the expansion pass for Nintendo Switch Online was going to come out with titles I loved while growing up. In particular, I was most excited about Yoshi’s Story!!!! I’ve been begging Nintendo to release that on the Switch forever. I’m also excited about Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and Pokemon Snap either becoming available at launch or somewhere down the line. If Nintendo eventually adds all the old Mario Party titles and Pokemon Stadium to the list, I’ll be super content.

However, there is a HUGE downside, and it’s the pricing model. I had been holding my breath to see what Nintendo would do. As much as I love Nintendo, they, like EA, often seem to enjoy gouging the wallets of their customers without much concern for the consumer. I was crossing my fingers that it wouldn’t be that bad, but it’s BAD

Currently, I’m on a family plan model. However, with the new pricing model, I can only see the family plan being valuable if members of the household insist on playing Nintendo Switch Online games at the same time or something. And, if that’s the case, it only really makes sense to do so if you have the maximum 8 members of your household sharing the cost. Before I break things down pricing-wise, I would like to mention that if Nintendo’s intent for the higher price, particularly for the family model, is to deter people who are not family, but a group of friends trying to share membership costs to make it more reasonable for them (which I suspect is probably against ToS—don’t quote me on that though, because I’ve never looked into it, my family membership is with one other person in my actual household), this new pricing model is only going to encourage people who are not actually related to each other to get a family membership plan together.

The prices of the expansion pass plans are astronomical. It’s even more expensive than a PS Plus membership, which makes even less sense to me. Nintendo would have to release all its games from all its prior platforms to make the pricing plans even remotely worthwhile, and even then!

So, how bad is it? Let’s break it down.

Currently, the soon to be “basic” or “entry-level” individual plans come in the following tiers: 1 month at $3.99 (so $47.88/yr.), 3 months at $7.99 ($31.96/yr.), and 12 months at $19.99. So the cheapest plan overall for individuals without the expansion pass would be the annual tier at $19.99.

The “basic” or “entry-level” family plan (which allows for up to 8 family members to be connected) is currently $34.99/yr. That’s slightly more expensive than doing the 3-month recurring individual plan subscription, and a difference of $15.00 a year between the yearly individual plan and the yearly family plan.

Now…let’s look at how insane the pricing model becomes for the expansion pass.

Nintendo is charging $49.99 a year for the individual Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass plan. When comparing it to the yearly rate of the “basic” plan, that’s a difference of $30.00. WHAT?! Also, when comparing to the “basic” family plan, the price difference is $15.00. That makes absolutely no sense to me. I would understand if they tacked on $15.00 to the current basic plan for individuals to “upgrade” to the expansion pass subscription, but a $30.00 jump?! That’s just corporate greed at its finest.

Next, we look at the difference in cost between the expansion pass version of the yearly family plan vs. the “basic” family plan. The expansion pass family plan is going to cost $79.99 a year. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That is a $45.00 jump from the “basic” family plan to this expansion pass version. That’s insane.

Now, let’s compare the expansion pass family plan yearly price to the individual expansion plan yearly price, which is $30.00. Why is there such a huge difference? That’s an exponentially larger gap than what it is between the “basic” yearly individual and family plans, which is only $15. That to me shows complete lack of consistency when it comes to creating a pricing model for this new expansion pass plan.

To further emphasize the great differences in costs, I’ll put what I said above into some tables below.


Monthly “Basic” Individual Plans vs. Yearly “Basic” Individual Plan

“Basic” Individual Membership
“Basic” Individual Membership
Cost Difference
1-month, $3.99 ($47.88/yr.)$19.99$27.89
3-month, $7.99 ($31.96/yr.)” “$11.97

“Basic” Individual Membership Plan vs. “Basic” Family Membership Plan

“Basic” Individual Membership“Basic” Family MembershipCost Difference
1-month, $3.99 ($47.88/yr.)$34.99/yr.$12.89
3-month, $7.99 ($31.96/yr.)” “$3.03
12-month, $19.99” “$15.00

“Basic” Individual Membership Plans vs. Expansion Pass Plans

“Basic” Individual MembershipExpansion Pass
Cost Difference
1-month, $3.99 ($47.88/yr.)Individual, $49.99$2.11
” “Family, $79.99$32.11
3-month, $7.99 ($31.96/yr.)Individual, $49.99$18.03
” “Family, $79.99$48.03
12-month, $19.99Individual, $49.99$30.00
” “Family. $79.99$60.00

“Basic” Family Membership Plan vs. Expansion Pass Plans

“Basic” Family Membership
Expansion Pass
Cost Difference
$34.99Individual, $49.99$15.00
” “Family, $79.99$45.00

Now, for those interested in what shared costs look like between family membership plans, see below tables.

“Basic” Family Membership Plan Shared Costs
(Max 8 Household Members)

Number of Household UsersShared Costs

Expansion Pass Family Membership Plan Shared Costs
(Max 8 Household Members)

Number of Household UsersShared Costs

Difference in Yearly Shared Costs Between “Basic” Family Plan and Expansion Pass Family Plan

Number of Household Users“Basic” Family Plan
Shared Costs
Expansion Pass Family Plan
Shared Costs
Cost Difference

So, what’s the solution to this madness? Well, boycott the expansion pass until Nintendo brings the pricing down, of course. But will there be enough people willing to do that to make Nintendo budge? Honestly, one would hope so, but who knows? I do hope though, that Nintendo ends up bringing its price down like they did when the 3DS first came out, and for those who got sucked in to the new pricing model before Nintendo makes that change, for Nintendo to offer them exclusive perks like they did with those early 3DS adopters as an apology.

Oh, and Nintendo, if you’re listening, if you later decide to make GBC and GBA games available on your Nintendo Switch Online offerings, please do not create another tier of expansion pass and hike the prices to even more unreasonable heights.

Clearly, Nintendo doesn’t care at all that a lot of people are suffering financially during this pandemic, and that they care more about lining their own corporate pockets rather than rewarding the loyalty of their consumer fanbase. Of course, I also can’t say I’m surprised.

TLDR? Bottom line—Nintendo, you’re out of your ****** mind.

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