The Nintendo Switch Online service, launching next week, comes with a fairly standard roster of perks such as playing online with friends and cloud saving. But it will also apparently be a limiter on purchases of physical merchandise - namely, a NES-style Joy-Con.
In today's Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced a more complete version of the roster of classic NES games coming as a perk to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Those games are playable with standard Joy-Con controllers, but Nintendo is also selling a pair of NES-style Joy-Cons intended to be close replicas of original NES controllers.
Though the button mapping appears to effectively match what's on the Joy-Cons now (A and B, L and R buttons added) and attach to the Switch itself in the same way, the controllers do not have a comparable physical layout to standard Joy-Cons, and may only function with the NES games they are intended to play. This would explain Nintendo's decision to make their purchase exclusive to paid Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, though in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Nintendo of America wouldn't specify if they would work with any other games or not:
"The NES controller is designed for use with NES - Nintendo Switch Online games," the statement reads. "Compatibility with other games is not guaranteed."
In addition, controller purchases are limited to one per Nintendo Account. They cost $59.99.