Nintendo finally shares details on its paid online service

Nintendo revealed some information about its upcoming paid online service for the Switch console last night, including pricing and some of the features. Switch users have been able to play multiplayer games online for free since the system launched over a year ago, but the grace period will come to an end in September. Neither the 3DS nor Wii U’s online services will be affected by the launch of Nintendo Switch Online.

The paid online service will be called “Nintendo Switch Online” and will go live in September 2018. The service will cost $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year, and Nintendo has added some features to the service to make it more enticing. There’s also an option to set up a “Family membership” which costs $34.99 per year, but can be shared with up to seven other players.

Family groups can be created starting May 15 through the Nintendo Account settings built into the Switch. Once the service launches memberships will be available through Nintendo.com, via the Switch eShop, or at retail.

Most of the features are things we’ve come to expect from paid online services, such as save data cloud storage and online play. The service will not be required to access the Switch’s eShop or to post screenshots and clips to social media. Likewise, the Switch News service, parental controls, and functions like friend management will not be affected and can still be used even if the account isn’t paying for Nintendo Switch Online.

One of the most unique features of the Online service allows access to a library of classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) titles, updated to include online play. The service will launch with 20 games, and Nintendo promises more will be added regularly.

The launch titles will include Balloon Fight, Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Soccer, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Tennis, and The Legend of Zelda. All of these titles are first-party Nintendo games, and it’s safe to assume the rest will be as well. This may be the Switch’s replacement for the Virtual Console service that allows players to buy retro games and play them on Nintendo consoles.

Online play for games released over the last year will cease to function for non-paying Switch users after the Online service launches. Games affected by this change include Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and the yet-unreleased Mario Tennis Aces.

Presumably, the service will be debuting very near the launch of Super Smash Bros. for Switch, and there will certainly be a push to get players signed up so they can play Smash online. Nintendo mentions that “other games will vary” so it may be up to the developers or publishers whether they want their games to require Switch Online to make use of multiplayer.