September 18 marks the launch of Nintendo's paid online service, which adds features like cloud saves and an assortment of playable NES games for Switch owners. The $20 annual subscription will also be required to play online multiplayer games (though free-to-play titles seem to be excluded, much like they are on PlayStation 4). This includes games that have already been released, like Splatoon 2, the multiplayer mayhem of which fans have been enjoying rent-free since July 2017.
We always knew this was coming. Nintendo laid out some vague plans for the service a couple of months before the Switch came out. Now that it's here, however, not everyone is prepared. Of those games affected, Splatoon 2 has one of the most active online communities on the console. Fans have been using the Miiverse-like in-game messaging system to register their thoughts on what will be a huge shakeup for the playerbase.
Many of these messages are lamenting the loss, saying their goodbyes from either side of the fence.
This has gotta be tough for some folks. Splatoon 2 has kept fans engaged with a constant stream of updates and events, so a shift this large is bound to leave some left in the lurch.
Other longtime residents of Inkopolis are not so sympathetic. Some see the price of the subscription as trivial, especially compared to the minimum investment of a Switch and the game. The tone of these arguments ranges from cynical to... cruel.
Who can't afford $20 in this day and age? Well, lots of people. A substantial gaming budget just isn't in the cards for many Switch owners, and 1/3 the price of a full game might be too much to justify. Then there are kids, who make up a large part of Splatoon 2's family-friendly target audience. Though some parents might be weaned on microtransactions thanks to V-Bucks, explaining the ins and outs of an online service to mom and dad could be a big ask. Adult players take online fees as a given, but the introduction of a payment plan has a different impact when it comes to a younger community.
There's also the matter of value. You could argue that the lack of dedicated servers and smattering of old games no one wants to play (anyone really itching to revisit Soccer on NES?) just isn't worth the money. Nintendo has a history of terrible online policies, and forking over 20 bucks for them to continue that streak of lackluster support may be too much to swallow.
No matter the reasoning, Splatoon 2's active playerbase will no doubt take a dip after everyone uses up their seven day trials. Where will kids go if they want to play a hugely popular online game for free?