For some people, the Virtual Console was one of the best parts of owning a Nintendo console. It offered a way to legally play classic Nintendo games on a bigger screen or on the go in the case of the 3DS. Unfortunately, Nintendo Switch owners will not be getting a Virtual Console.
In an email to Kotaku, Nintendo stated that, “There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems.”
Now, obviously this doesn't mean that Nintendo is completely leaving retro gamers out to dry. Nintendo has already unveiled its Switch Online subscription service that promises access to 20 NES games initially. However, that also leaves Nintendo's vast library of SNES and N64 games untapped for the Switch.
"“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,” the Nintendo spokesperson said. “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.”
Now to be fair, that doesn't mean that classic SNES and N64 games will not ever be ported to the Switch (you can already buy the original Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo eShop) but it does mean that there will be no dedicated brand to house all of the classic games. Fortunately, some developers such as Sega, have already promised to bring classic Genesis games to the Switch. Neo-Geo games like Fatal Fury are already in the eShop as well.
There is some speculation that Nintendo is trying to drive gamers to buy the NES Classic and SNES Classic mini consoles to scratch that retro itch. Nintendo's recent strategy with the Labo cardboard playsets also seem to point to the company positioning the Switch as more than just a gaming console.