Virtual Console, the subsection of Nintendo’s online eShop that peddles downloadable games from across the company’s history, won’t be available for Switch owners at launch.
The news is confirmed in a Feb. 23 email that also lists the three indie games that will be available in the eShop at launch. Two of those games are Shovel Knight.
There’s no word on when Virtual Console titles will be available for Switch. Nintendo’s email plainly states that it "will share more information in the future."
Hopefully the delay can be attributed to ongoing efforts on Nintendo’s part to bring Virtual Console purchases on earlier consoles forward to the Switch. The company hasn’t ever fully embraced the cross-buy/cross-play features that have become common for PlayStation 4/PS Vita users and Xbox One/Windows 10 PC users.
There are also concerns about what the day one Switch Virtual Console will look like. In the past, each new online-connected Nintendo device — whether it’s a console or handheld — hit reset on their Virtual Console catalogs. Games you could buy for one device wouldn’t necessarily be available right away for its next-gen replacement.
While it’s not unusual for competing hardware from Microsoft and Sony to reset their own online stores at launch, Virtual Console is a little different. These aren’t "new" games; they’re emulated versions of old Nintendo games, from the NES era forward.
The questions swirling around Virtual Console and other Switch launch concerns stem from Nintendo’s drip-feed approach to detailing how core features will work. It’s still not clear, for example, how much of the Switch’s subscription-based online services — which, to be fair, will be free for the first six months — works.
The lack of clarity is especially confusing as Nintendo continues to release Virtual Console titles for the Wii U. The company’s official website notes that production of the console — which launched in 2012 — has ceased in Japan.
Meanwhile, Nintendo’s Switch/Virtual Console email on Thursday was followed shortly thereafter by another, announcing the release of Nintendo 64 game Harvest Moon 64 for the Wii U Virtual Console.
With the Switch launching on March 3, there’s not a lot of time left — though Nintendo probably isn’t too concerned. Switch pre-orders are sold out at most retailers, and the console launch is further bolstered by the day one release of a widely hyped new Zelda game.
In other words: the company can rest safe — seemingly — in the knowledge that its legion of hardcore fans will be out in force on day one.