Originally planned to launch in the second half of 2017, Nintendo Switch’s online services have been delayed and will now launch in 2018. The delay includes the full version of Nintendo’s smartphone app, which supports features like voice chat, friend invites, and online lobbies. A free, yet limited version of this app is still on track to release during summer 2017.
For the duration of the delay, online multiplayer will remain entirely free on the Nintendo Switch. Cooperative and competitive games, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the upcoming Splatoon 2, can be played online for free just as all multiplayer Switch games have since the console’s launch. Come 2018, when the Switch’s paid online services are implemented, all multiplayer will require players have a subscription to play.
Speaking of pricing, Nintendo also revealed the price of the upcoming Switch’s online service subscription. A single month of the service will cost $3.99 USD, three months will cost $7.99 USD, and a full year will retail for only $19.99 USD.
Compared to Sony and Microsoft’s subscriptions, which each retail for $59.99 for a 12-month card, Nintendo’s service is incomparably cheaper. Though to be fair, Nintendo’s service is also incomparable in terms of features too. Nintendo has made clear they have no plans to compete on the same level as their console competitors.
Nintendo also revealed another change in plans regarding the Switch’s online services. Unlike previously announced, Nintendo will not provide a free classic game each month. Instead of a system akin to what Microsoft provides with Games With Gold and Sony does with PlayStation Plus, Nintendo is going the Netflix route. Subscribing to the online service will provide access to a library of classic games that may or may not change month to month. These games will have added multiplayer functionality, like Nintendo had previously promised.
The exact reasons for Nintendo’s changes aren’t made clear. Either Nintendo has readjusted its plans and need more time to implement them, or perhaps the comapny believes an extended live test with the limited version of the app will prove fruitful. Whatever the cause, the delay is unlikely to result in too much controversy. Switch players seem content with current functionality for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2 won’t likely require additional features to enjoy.
The Nintendo Switch is currently available at retailers across the world, though in extremely limited quantity. Expect the Switch’s paid online service subscription to launch in 2018.