Nintendo Switch Online service to launch with free classic games
Nintendo has unveiled the details for the Switch console's upcoming online service. Not only will Nintendo Switch Online let players jump into multiplayer games, it will also open up a cloud saving feature and include a range of classic games from the company's impressive back catalog to download.
Nintendo has been hinting at a proper online service ever since the Switch launched in March last year. Players of games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 have so far enjoyed free online play, but that's set to change when the new service launches this September.
From then, prices for Nintendo Switch Online will start at US$3.99 for a one-month subscription, $7.99 for three months or $19.99 for 12 months. If a few people are planning to share, there's also a Family Membership option, which lets up to eight separate accounts use the same service, even on different Switches, for $34.99 per year.
While it might sound a bit rough to start charging for a previously free service, that's just the way the wind is blowing these days. Servers don't maintain themselves, and Microsoft and Sony already charge subscription fees to play their consoles online.
To sweeten the deal somewhat, Nintendo is throwing in a few other goodies. Given that the Switch is a portable console, if you accidentally leave it on the train you'll currently have to wave goodbye to your 120-hour Breath of the Wild save file. To prevent that from happening, subscribers will be able to back up save data for most games to the cloud, which can then be downloaded to a new Switch system if needed.
Like the Playstation Plus and Xbox Games with Gold services, Nintendo's Switch Online will also include free games. At launch, that means subscribers will get access to a collection of 20 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games, including the likes of Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Dr Mario, Tennis and Soccer.
The other 10 launch games will be revealed later, and more will apparently follow further down the track. We can only hope that also includes titles from other consoles throughout Nintendo's storied history.
These classic games will be playable offline, and they've also been modified for online play for the first time. Subscribers can play either competitively or cooperatively with each other, take turns, or pass the virtual controller at any time during single-player games.
While there's still a few questions around the service, Nintendo has said it will give more details soon. We'd expect a few more tidbits to be thrown our way during E3 next month.