It’s official: playing Nintendo Switch games online is no longer free. The company officially launched its Nintendo Switch Online service — complete with retro games and updates to the Nintendo Switch smartphone app.
The paid online service costs $3.99 a month, $7.99 for a three-month period or $19.99 a year — and is now required for Switch owners who want to play multiplayer games over the internet. In other words, the service is effectively putting parts of major titles like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 behind a paywall.
If you were wondering about one of the most popular games in the world, Fortnite, don’t fret. You’re still able to hop into the battle royale even if you don’t have a Nintendo Online account — it’s one of the few games that will continue to allow online multiplayer without a subscription.
The online service also includes library of Nintendo Entertainment System titles, including Mario Bros., Excitebike, Dr. Mario, Balloon Fight and other NES classics. As mentioned earlier in the year, these games all have a tacked-on online functionality, letting ‘player 2’ join in remotely. There are 20 games in the NES library for now, but Nintendo says it’ll be growing the library over the next several months.
The Nintendo Switch smartphone app will remain the primary means of communicating with other players during online play. Nintendo also teased special offers for subscribers, including a pair of wireless Switch controllers that will look and feel like the classic NES gamepad, and can dock with the Switch to charge.
Other special offers are coming, but Nintendo would only say it’ll have ‘more to announce in the future.’
An individual annual subscription costs $19.99 — but if you have multiple accounts you can save a bit more with a 12-month family membership, available for $34.99.
The online service has been long subject to speculation from fans wondering how it’ll stack up to Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Both of those are required to play most games online and offer free monthly games, but cost $59.99 for yearly subscriptions.
The Switch will be the first Nintendo console to require a paid subscription to access online multiplayer, and its first console to offer cloud saves, which Nintendo says will backup your games to the cloud automatically (though there are several exceptions to that). Switch owners will be able to sign up for a seven-day free trial for the service before its limits go into full effect.
Nintendo’s announcement had previously been planned for last week, before being delayed due to an earthquake in Hokkaido, Japan.
You can watch the Nintendo Switch Online segment of the presentation below.