Nintendo had some good news and some bad news to announce Thursday about its upcoming suite of online services for its Switch console, which will add some much-anticipated features, such as access to classic Nintendo games, to the portable game system.
First, the bad news: Nintendo has pushed back the full launch of Switch Online services. The company had originally said it would launch these features in 2017, but it now expects to add them sometime in 2018. For those who have been on the fence about buying a Switch because they want more social features, that's a frustrating delay.
The good news is that the services sound like they'll be a pretty good value. The service will give players access to online play for all Switch titles, the ability to voice chat and to set up appointments to play together. It will also give players access to a library of Nintendo's classic games; the selection is currently limited to NES games, Kotaku reported, although the company will consider adding Super NES games in the future.
Online services are crucial to the Switch's ability to compete in the modern gaming world. Players expect to be able to voice chat or at least communicate with each other. Having a richer online multiplayer experience is particularly important to Nintendo if it wants to court outside developers of titles such as “Call of Duty,” for which having that ability is key.
The whole package will cost $20 per year, although players can also pick a one-month subscription for $4 or a three-month subscription for $8.
For consumers, that's not a bad deal, especially considering Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold or Sony's PlayStation Plus both cost $60 per year.
Nintendo is setting up Switch Online in a slightly different fashion than the competition, perhaps because of its more compact screen size. The chat features will work by way of a separate smartphone app. That means players will have all their social interaction going on a second screen, rather than on the Switch console itself. Nintendo plans to roll out a free, limited version of this app over the summer.