During the Nintendo Switch reveal event today, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima announced that the Switch will include a paid online service, breaking with Nintendo’s history of including online play for free. Kimishima also said that this paid service will be an improvement from the company’s previous offerings.
“With Nintendo Switch, you will of course be able to enjoy online multiplayer gaming,” Kimishima said. “And when you use a smart device application that will connect to Nintendo Switch, you will be able to invite friends to play online, set play appointments and chat with friends while enjoying online matches in compatible games, all from your smart device.
“Users will be able to try out Nintendo Switch online services for free during a trial period after launch. Then it will become a paid service beginning in the fall of 2017. We will provide additional details on this paid service and its features on our home page at a later date.”
That later date ended up being today, as the website populated shortly after the presentation with some details on the online services.
The paid features include an online lobby, voice chat, a monthly game download and exclusive deals. This, of course, is similar to Microsoft’s long-standing paid Xbox Live strategy. Sony launched PlayStation Plus on the PlayStation 3, but it was not required for online play until the PlayStation 4. Both services cost $60 a year, and both offer voice chat, free games and exclusive deals.
Users who don’t opt into the paid tier will still have access to the eShop, the friends service, screenshot sharing and the parental controls app.
Online from the start
It’s been 667 days since Nintendo revealed plans to succeed the flagging Wii U with a new console, the Nintendo Switch (then-codenamed NX). That initial reveal statement promised a new “membership service” thanks to a partnership with Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA.
Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service.
It’s notable that the very first acknowledgement of the Switch was also an acknowledgement of the importance of a consistent online identity for Nintendo’s products and an acknowledgement that Nintendo itself could not do this by itself.
That service — the successor to the Nintendo Network ID — ended up being called, simply, Nintendo Account, and it was launched in North America in February of last year, in advance of the release of Miitomo and the new My Nintendo rewards program. While both the 3DS and Wii U have been updated to support the new Nintendo Account system, the Switch is the first new piece of hardware built with Nintendo Account in mind.
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