Up till now you’ve been happily joining Nintendo Switch multiplayer games whenever you like, dropping into blue-shell-spitting games on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or painting the heck out of opponents in Splatoon 2. That time, friends, is coming to an end (and we can’t say that we weren’t warned about it, either). Nintendo’s paid-for Switch Online service will launch on 18 September.
#NintendoSwitchOnline memberships will start on 9/18. You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial from Nintendo #eShop at launch! We will introduce more information during the Nintendo Direct on 9/13.https://t.co/74Hzxk9spt pic.twitter.com/EJVFJH6F4I
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 12, 2018
What this means is that you’re going to have to get your hands on a subscription from Nintendo if you are planning on any more raucous online shenanigans after that date. This is the first time that Nintendo is imposing this sort of requirement on its online players but it kinda had to happen. Maintaining online infrastructure costs money and providing that to players for free isn’t viable for game platforms any more. Except on PC, because the internet takes care of that.
We saw a similar transition when Sony released the PlayStation 4 — online gaming on the PS3 used to be free (and still is, as far as we know) but if you want to get your multiplayer on on the PS4, you have to shell out for PlayStation Plus. There was initial pushback against the move in that case, but folks seem to be okay with it now. Hopefully Nintendo’s offering will see a similar acceptance from its player base. And at least it’s substantially cheaper at $20/year, compared to Sony’s $50.
Nintendo is planning to sweeten the pot a little. Save files for most games can be synced to Nintendo’s servers so that you can get your progress back in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure or loss. Some titles, however, like Splatoon 2, Dark Souls Remastered, Dead Cells, FIFA 10, NBA 2K19, and Pokemon: Let’s Go, won’t be supported. Subscribers will also get access to a library of some 20 NES games.
We’ve had South African pricing for a while (see below if you need reminding), and we’ve also known that September would be the month in which that pricing would be implemented… but for some reason it still feels a little like short notice. Anyway, now we know, from 18 September, we’re going to have to pay… but not right away. Nintendo is offering a free 7-day trial of the new paid-for service, via the eShop, so you can be certain what you’re getting before (green, red, or blue) shelling out your hard-earned cash.