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Nintendo’s online service for Switch will be free until 2018 (update)

Subscribers get access to retro NES games with the “Classic Game Selection”

A blue Nintendo Switch Joy-Con being held sideways in someone’s hand James Bareham/Vox Media
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Nintendo’s online gaming service for the Switch will launch in 2018, the company announced today. In the meantime, online competitive and cooperative multiplayer features will remain free.

When the Nintendo Switch online service launches next year, it will cost $19.99 annually.

Nintendo detailed pricing and the launch window for its online service, which was originally slated to go live this year, on the company’s website. Nintendo says online lobbies and its smartphone app voice chat service will be available in a “free, limited version” this summer.

Online play during the free period will require a Nintendo Account.

Switch owners who subscribe to the online service will be able to download retro games as part of what Nintendo calls the Classic Game Selection. Nintendo says “classic titles with added online play,” including NES games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario, will be available as part of its online subscription service.

Nintendo’s online service for the Switch will be available for $19.99 a year. Switch owners will also be able to subscribe to the service with shorter time commitments: $3.99 per month or $7.99 for three months.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify details about the Classic Game Selection, which is not confirmed to be a replacement for the company’s Virtual Console service.

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