Nintendo Online paid service to launch for Switch in 2018, pricing and details revealed

In an update on their website, Nintendo revealed details on the upcoming paid service for online play with the Nintendo Switch. Previously dated for late 2017, the service has been delayed until 2018 which will allow users to play Switch games online for free until that time.

Nintendo has historically struggled with integrating a universal online system, but their partnership with DeNa shows an effort to turn a new leaf. While the Nintendo Switch Online service is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch platform (3DS and Wii U games will continue to have free online functionality), details on what users can expect have been updated.

Most notable is the pricing structure, which on face value appears much more affordable than PS+ or Xbox Live Gold memberships. Users can pay $20 annually, or $8 for 3 months, and $4 for 30 days:

It’s also worth noting that Nintendo includes text that “most games” will require the paid service to play Switch games online, indicating that some may offer online play in some capacity without requiring membership.

While this is a fraction of the price that competing online services cost, it remains to be seen what the quality and value of Nintendo Switch Online’s service actually provides. Both PSN and Xbox Live have been well integrated onto their platforms, along with bundling their paid services with a variety of online promotions, functionality, and integration with mobile apps.

Nintendo intends to continue incentivizing users with similar offers, such as a mobile app to coordinate Nintendo Switch social interaction, offering eShop deals, and free games. This last point is a revised proposal of their previous plan to offer temporary access to a single Virtual Console style game each month, whereas the new offering is a more on-demand style collection of classic games which are accessible for as long as users continue the paid membership.

Nintendo refers to this “Classic Game Collection” as a compilation, which raises questions about whether titles will be rotated or added cumulatively, along with finer details about how these complimentary titles will be treated alongside the yet-to-be detailed Virtual Console on Nintendo Switch. Reports suggest that the library will be persistent and that users will have continuous access to a presumably growing library of games in what has been referred to as a “Netflix style” model.

Nintendo has, until recently, jealously guarded their properties and continued to re-release titles on the Virtual Console in controversial pricing and platform-restricted decisions. It’s easy to see how they may struggle to reconcile with offering complimentary games without giving an impression of depreciation. The Classic Game Collection appears to be a reaction to a widely negative reaction to their initial plans, so it seems they are responding to reactions of the market and fans.

More details may appear in the coming weeks or months, but for now it seems Nintendo is content to announce their pricing structure and test the waters with a revised approach to offering free games in a similar manner as PSN and Xbox Live.

The online mobile app is also set for a trial run this summer.

Players have until 2018 to enjoy playing Nintendo Switch games for free online, at which point the service will become paid with the addition of the Classic Game Collection, the full release of a mobile app, and aforementioned eShop promotions.