Nintendo says Switch won't have a Virtual Console -- here's how you'll get your retro fix

Want a library full of retro Nintendo games? Sounds like you'll have to piece it together yourself.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

It's continually been one of our biggest questions since the Nintendo Switch was first revealed: When will Nintendo launch its famous Virtual Console software library, so we can we start downloading all our favorite NES, SNES, N64 (and maybe even) GameCube and Wii titles and take them on the go? 

You're not going to like the answer. Nintendo says the Virtual Console won't be coming to the Switch anytime soon, according to a report from Kotaku.

"There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems," a Nintendo rep confirmed to CNET.

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That doesn't mean the retro-portable dream is dead, though. (Do you really expect Nintendo to give up a veritable itprintsmoney.gif?) Instead, Nintendo is suggesting you get your retro fix through one of the company's other initiatives. 

They include:

  • The Nintendo Switch Online subcription service, which includes 20 classic NES games with new online play modes and voice chat
  • The Nintendo eShop, where Nintendo and third parties can offer individual games online
  • Boxed collections of classic games, like Sega, Capcom and many others have been releasing for years now.

The subscription service costs $4 per month, $8 for three months or $20 for a year.

There's another option that Nintendo didn't mention, one that's both exciting and potentially frustrating for Switch owners. The company may continue to pump out mini game consoles full of classic games such as the SNES Classic and NES Classic. The company has filed trademarks it could use for an N64 Classic and Game Boy Classic as well. 

These options could be pretty good, but none of them are the guaranteed library of classic games to-go that Switch owners had been hoping for. 

But it's always possible Nintendo will reconsider. The actual words Nintendo provided allow for a whole lot of wiggle room.

Update, 10:15a.m. PT: See Nintendo's whole statement below.

There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems. There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections.

Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.

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