After a more than controversial start, Nintendo has just rescued the Toggle Online Expansion Pack at once. As of March 18, subscribers will be able to access all Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s Next DLC at no additional cost, which will add 48 new tracks to the evergreen title by the end of 2023.
If you ever needed an incentive to apply, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC it’s most definitely that. Not only does the Booster Course Pass guarantee that Nintendo’s most popular Switch title will keep people running for many more years to come, but when you consider that the upcoming DLC costs $24.99 / £22.49 on its own, then 49.99 / £34.99 / AU$59.95 for a 12-month subscription to Nintendo’s premium service suddenly seems pretty reasonable.
It helps that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is also one of the best online multiplayer experiences on the platform. Many Key owners (myself included) probably only subscribe to Nintendo’s online service in the first place, so they can continue to compete against other players around the world. And if that’s the case, you can also buy the Expansion Pack and get the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC as part of the deal – you’ll pay $44.98 / £40.48 if you choose to buy the DLC separately and subscribe Nintendo Switch Online anyway. In fact, this means UK Switch subscribers could end up paying £5 more than necessary if they don’t buy the Expansion Pack.
show me your moves
Of course, the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass isn’t the only perk of subscribing to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. To my surprise, Nintendo has been constantly adding more N64 and Sega Genesis titles for the service instead of drip feed games at their usual glacial pace. Mario paper and Banjo-Kazooie already arrived and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is coming to the N64 library this month. On the Sega Genesis, we saw the additions of Altered Beast, ToeJam & Earl, Dynamite Headdy, Sword of Vermillion, and Thunder Force II. It was not a bad start, and the efforts of the data miners show that many more titles are on the way.
But that’s not all: the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack also includes free access to Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise DLC That means the DLC for the two best-selling Switch games now resides on Nintendo’s premium subscription service, and again, Happy Home Paradise is $24.99 / £22.49, 50% off the price of a 12 months of the Expansion Pack.
That’s a huge audience Nintendo can reach, many of whom will no doubt find the prospect of racing around new tracks and playing a new Animal Crossing expansion incredibly appealing. The N64 and Genesis game library should always have been the icing on the Expansion Pack service, not the whole cake, and it seems Nintendo has happily realized that.
Nintendo’s plan for the Switch Online Expansion Pack was suddenly crystal clear. It can no longer be seen as just a paywall that isolates classic titles. Instead, it has the potential to be a service that houses DLC for all best Nintendo Switch gamestitles that many of us still play today.
It’s time to play online
However, if Nintendo’s recent direct showcase taught us something, is that the company is also taking online gaming very seriously (finally). Yes, the Switch will fundamentally never be able to deliver the kind of social experience that PS5 and Xbox Series X can with group chats, instant messages and content sharing. But we’re seeing a positive trend of Switch titles implementing online play in a notable way rather than as an afterthought.
Only in 2022 will we see Splatoon 3, Mario Strikers Battle League, Nintendo Switch Sports, Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp, No Man’s Sky, Disney Speedstorm, SD Gundam Battle Alliance, MLB: The Show 22, Portal 2 and many others include online multiplayer, which is unheard of for a Nintendo console. Especially since not three years ago we were bemoaning the omission of online multiplayer in super mario partywhich at the time should have been a given.
It’s clear that Nintendo isn’t just focusing on making its Switch Online Expansion Pack service a tempting proposition, it also wants to ensure more people play online in general.
Expand your possibilities
The Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack was initially criticized for being too expensive and not offering enough content, a complaint that was absolutely fair at the time. The jump from $19.99 / £17.99 / AU$29.95 for a 12 month subscription to $49.99 / £34.99 / AU$59.95 just to access the N64 and Sega Genesis game was ridiculous, honestly, but now it seems like a good deal that only promises to get better.
If Nintendo continues to cram delicious DLC into the Expansion Pack, the value proposition will only become more apparent. Maybe I could eventually put the Super Smash Bros. ultimate DLC there, or any downloadable content coming to Splatoon 3? In any case, Nintendo is using the power of its excellent IPs to attract subscribers to its online services, rather than betting on rose-tinted glasses and people’s nostalgia. And that’s exactly how it should be.