Sadly, the Virtual Console still isn't coming to the Nintendo Switch. This has been known. Nintendo Switch Online, however, is being seen by Nintendo as its big alternative. The Online subscription will come with 20 NES games at launch, with more added over time. The NES games will have online play for the first time ever too.
This is squarely because Nintendo sees this sort of program of releasing retro video games through a subscription service as a direct successor to the former virtual platform, which sold retro titles individually. "The Virtual Console successor is Nintendo Switch Online, right? With the mentality that says we're going to be offering a slate of games, and it's a slate that's going to increase over time," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé told IGN at E3 last week. "For many of these games, there's going to be additional online capability provided in those games. That's the vision we have for how to best bring our legacy content to Nintendo Switch."
Nintendo Switch Online isn't just going to offer online services for games like Splatoon 2, nor just NES games. Even though online play is free right now, Fils-Aimé doesn't think players will be discouraged by the online subscription. "We do [believe people will subscribe], and I say that because what we've laid out is a proposition where, yes you get the competitive play accessibility, you also get the cloud save, and you get access to the legacy content," Fils-Aimé said. "That's a fantastic proposition for $20 a year. We believe that it's not going to be any type of issue for us. In fact, it's going to enable us to continue offering a varied slate of opportunities from an online experience standpoint."
Compared to Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus' steep $59.99 yearly subscription fee, Nintendo Switch Online's is the cheapest of the three. Though it also offers the least, in terms of games. Nintendo Switch Online will launch in September 2018 with 20 NES games with it.