Nintendo has revealed the paid features of “Nintendo Switch Online,” and the service is set to launch in September this year. Bringing with it a library of 20 Nintendo Entertainment System games at launch, as well as cloud saves and special deals for subscribers to the service, Nintendo is addressing many of the criticisms aimed at the Switch’s otherwise lackluster online features. Let’s take a look at each of the announced features in turn.
First, and most importantly, the pricing and account structure for Nintendo Switch Online:
- One month (solo): $3.99
- Three months (solo): $7.99
- Twelve months (solo): $19.99
- Twelve months (Family): $34.99
You’ll notice immediately that there are no one or three-month subscription plans for the Family memberships. This is because Family accounts allow for seven more accounts to be created under the same Family account label, for a total of eight accounts. Family accounts will not be tied to a singular system, either, so your “family” could well stretch across continents.
Another equally important feature is the introduction of cloud saves. When the Switch first launched last year, the internet was quickly rife with horror stories of save data getting wiped from the system after sending it in for repairs. There were sporadic reports of Switch owners getting their data back, though this appears to be very localized. Now though, by subscribing to the Switch’s online service, you can finally upload your saves into the all-powerful cloud.
Additionally, some of the long-expected Nintendo Entertainment System library will be coming to Switch via Nintendo Switch Online, with some upgrades. All NES games will come with new online features, so now “you can compete (or cooperate) online with friends, share your screen, or pass the controller, depending on the game.” This means you will be able to watch your friends struggle through classic NES games, as well as take a turn yourself. Not only that, but all of the NES games will support voice chat via the smartphone app, and all games can be played offline too. 20 games will be available at launch, with 10 revealed today, and 10 more “to be revealed.” The games announced today are:
- The Legend of Zelda
- Ice Climber
- Balloon Fight
- Donkey Kong
- Dr. Mario
- Mario Bros.
- Super Mario Bros.
- Super Mario Bros. 3
It goes without saying that Nintendo is rolling out online features in the hopes that they can capture their own multiplayer market in a subscription net. After September of this year rolls around, Switch owners will no longer be able to play games like ARMS, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 and other games online without a subscription. Non-paying members will still get updates for all games, but multiplayer will be locked behind the paywall. It is worth mentioning that Nintendo does say that “other games will vary,” without qualifying what “other games” means, exactly. Whether this means that more free-to-play games and MMOs will be arriving on the Switch is hard to say, but Nintendo is clearly planning for exceptions.
There’s also not a whole lot of information on how Nintendo will be integrating their smartphone app and friend lists with the announced features. The app is largely advertised as a companion to Splatoon 2, so it’s possible it will take on a larger roll in lobby-based games like Mario Kart 8 or Mario Tennis Aces. Adding friends on the Switch is still a mildly cumbersome process, too. Modern internet features were at the top of our list of things we would like to see added to the Switch. Hopefully, making and adding friends in online games will be easier with this rollout of features, but again, it’s too early to tell. With E3 right around the corner, we’ll likely see Nintendo talk about the online features in-depth at the conference.
Personally, I’d like to be the first to congratulate Nintendo on arriving in this decade, in terms of online features. While we still don’t know if there will be party systems, it’s clear they’re taking cues from Sony and Microsoft. Hopefully, the NES library support is expanded quickly, as it’s an innovative way to get friends checking out new games. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, finally.
What do you think of the Nintendo Switch Online announced features? Anything you’d like to see added to the Switch’s online capabilities not listed here? Let us know in the comments below!