We love the Nintendo Switch. In fact, we recently argued that the Nintendo Switch stole 2017 from Sony. It’s a remarkable system that captures the pure joy of gaming, and it’s arguably Nintendo’s best overall console since the Super Nintendo.
Having said that, the hidden costs of the Nintendo Switch really start to add up the longer you own the console.
If you are able to get a Nintendo Switch at retail price – which isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be – you should be able to get one for about $299. For that, you get the console itself, the console dock, two joy-cons, one joy-con dock (used to form a larger controller, a couple of motion control straps, and various cables. At the time of its launch, the Nintendo Switch’s price point raised some eyebrows. Of course, that was before the console’s stellar software library began to take shape.
However, you don’t get a game with your Nintendo Switch. That’s not necessarily unusual so far as gaming consoles go, but Nintendo is pretty famous for usually including one free game with their console. Most people felt that 1-2 Switch was the perfect title to include with the console. It was simple, pretty fun, and showed off the console’s versatility.
Despite those qualities, Nintendo ended up charging $49.99 for 1-2 Switch. Given that the game more or less mimics the design of previous free Nintendo games, that was seen as something of a cheap move on Nintendo’s part.
It’s easy enough to move past 1-2 Switch‘s full price given that the game isn’t that good, but 1-2 Switch represents a much bigger problem: the relatively high price of most major Nintendo Switch game.
Nintendo is infamous for never dropping the price of their games. They’ve even released ports of Wii U titles at full price on the Nintendo Switch. The “problem” there is that you pretty much buy a Nintendo console for the chance to play Nintendo games. When Nintendo develops several great games in a year – such as they did this year – you’re going to have to spend about $300 to play them all. Some indie third-party developers are a little more generous – the bountiful Stardew Valley only costs $15 – but developers have confirmed that manufacturing a physical game for Nintendo Switch costs much more than it does for other consoles.
The problem there is the Switch’s storage space. The Nintendo Switch only features about 25 GB of storage space out of the box. Physical games take up almost no space, but they’re more expensive. Meanwhile, larger digital games like L.A. Noire take up so much space that a fresh Nintendo Switch can’t even hold them. Realistically, you’re going to want to buy about a 128 GB SD (about $39.99) card for your Nintendo Switch just to have the additional storage. Of course, some dedicated Switch owners are reporting that even a card of that size is starting to fill up.
The most disappointing hidden cost of the Switch is extra controllers. Ideally, you can use the included joy-cons as two controllers. Realistically, though, anyone with above average hands isn’t going to be able to use a single joy-con for one game. That means an extra $80 for an official Switch controller or less for a third-party device. Given that the versatility of the controllers was one of the Switch’s selling points, that extra cost really stings.
Add to all of that the upcoming $20 a year you’ll have to pay for Switch’s premium online service – if you wish to play online – and you’re left with the realization that owning a Switch with the optimal set-up and number of games costs much more than you might initially think it does.
Of course, that’s not to say that it might not all be worth it.