Here's the Thing
A screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons shows a cutaway view of a small house on a beach. The interior of the house is decorated in bright colors and several animals are gathered inside and out.

Nintendo Has No Idea What It’s Doing

Unwinnable Monthly cover with Commander Shepard tossing gifts to elves.

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #146. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Here’s the Thing is where Rob dumps his random thoughts and strong opinions on all manner of nerdy subjects – from videogames and movies to board games and toys.


Okay look, I love my Switch. Love it. It’s got a great library of first and third-party games, and being able to jump back-and-forth between handheld mode and using a TV is possibly the best thing ever? So yeah, the Switch is great. But here’s the thing: great or no, Nintendo still doesn’t seem to have a clue when it comes to everything else people want from the Switch.

In particular, I’m talking about the Switch’s online features like Switch Online and the recent Expansions Pack subscription tier. It’s – and I’m saying this as someone who loves my Switch – a fucking mess. The core service, which nets you the ability to play online and access to streaming libraries for NES and SNES games for $20 per year is decent, if I’m being honest. No real complaints there. The Expansion Pack, though . . . hoo-boy.

I thought that the “free” access to Animal Crossing’s DLC, along with the theory that the Expansion Pack subscription would grant access to other future first-party DLCs, would be the main draw but, well, no. Not at all. In fact, Nintendo’s handling of the DLC access for Expansion Pack members is why I’m so mad about all of this.

You do get to download the Happy Home Paradise DLC for free if you’re a subscriber (though the added cost of the Expansion Pack is slightly higher than the DLC itself). And it does make a kind of sense that if your subscription lapses you lose access to the DLC you downloaded for free – though “making sense” doesn’t mean it’s not still petty. But households that have more than one user profile on their Switch are getting royally screwed here.

A screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons shows the human player character in a tropical office posing alongside three animal friends. They are all wearing the same uniform, suggesting they work together.

For some ridiculous reason, only those profiles that are connected to a Switch Online subscription (plus the Expansion Pack) can access the “free” DLC. So, in a situation like mine where we have one primary account for the eShop and playing online and all that and a secondary account so my wife, Diana, can enjoy Animal Crossing on her own, it’s a complete waste of money. Despite the non-subscribed account being able to access all of the other games I’ve bought and downloaded, it can’t access the DLC I downloaded gratis with the Expansion Pack. And that’s complete bullshit.

I get that Nintendo is clueless when it comes to online stuff – it has been for years and gets incrementally better so that it’s always “woefully behind” its peers rather than “a complete relic,” but that’s not good enough. And the way it’s handled the Expansion Pack is no exception. Actually, that’s not true. It is kind of an exception because it’s no longer frustrating but ultimately harmless. Now it’s straight up shitty and dishonest.

In order for us both to be able to enjoy Happy Home Paradise I have to either sign up for the Switch Online (plus Expansion Pack) family plan, which is $60 more per year, or buy the DLC directly. Keep in mind this is after already paying $30 for the Expansion Pack subscription and finding out no other Switch profiles can access it. So, I basically had to buy it twice. Because Nintendo has no fucking clue what it’s doing.

Or maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe Nintendo knows exactly what it’s doing. Forcing people to pay more for a family subscription plan or tricking them into paying twice to access one piece of software does result in making more money, after all.


Rob Rich is a guy who’s loved nerdy stuff since the 80s, from videogames to anime to Godzilla to Power Rangers toys to Transformers, and has had the good fortune of being able to write about them all. He’s also editor for the Games section of Exploits! You can still find him on Twitter, Instagram and Mastodon.


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