While Nintendo has clearly nailed down what its audience wants in a system with the Nintendo Switch, the online service has been anemic thus far, in step with Nintendo’s previous behind-the-times offerings. The announced Switch-specific online service was meant to go online last year, but went through some delays. Now, Nintendo is looking to launch the service in September and is offering up some key details – including pricing and retro gaming.
Nintendo is keeping the pricing of the service accessibly cheap. While it’s $3.99 for a month or $7.99 for 3 months, a full year is just $19.99, a far cry from the $59.99 Sony and Microsoft ask for. If you’re in a house with multiple Switch consoles or maybe just have a close-knit group of friends, the “Family” membership is $34.99 for a year and will get up to 8 Switch consoles online.
Once you’re online, Nintendo is offering up some key features players have been waiting to hear about. Of course, there’s the fact that the Nintendo Switch Online app will be required to play games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and ARMS online once it launches, but you won’t just be playing Switch games online.
As part of the monthly fee, you’ll have Netflix-style access to a batch of curated Nintendo Entertainment System games. The service will launch with 20 titles in total, including “Donkey Kong, Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., Soccer, Super Mario Bros. and Tennis.” Nintendo says that “players will be able to enjoy these classic NES games online,” and that the service will allow players to “engage in online competitive or co-op multiplayer or take turns playing. Players can stream gameplay to each other, too. Instead of Billy telling you about the secret his uncle who really works at Nintendo told him, you can now make Billy show you the secret. Time to put up or shut up, Billy.
Nintendo only mentioned NES in the official announcement, and said that the batch of 20 games is just the “initial” batch, meaning that more will come later. Both Switch and NES games will support voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app.
Nintendo is also massaging a big sore point with the service. By paying that $20 yearly fee, you’ll have access to Save Data Cloud Backup, which is just what it sounds like. “A backup of Switch save data for most Switch games,” for “people who want to retrieve their data if they lose, break, or purchase an additional Switch system. Nintendo should be allowing players to backup their own data, but the company has always been protective about how users access game data to prevent things like piracy and tampering, so this seems like probably the best answer we’re going to get from the company about save backup.
Nintendo Switch Online launches sometime in September, likely in time for the Switch version of Super Smash Bros. We’re betting Nintendo will have more specifics come E3 next month, but for now, this is a lot to chew on. Hopping online to play Super Mario Bros. 3 with a friend across the city or country sounds like a blast.