The wait is almost over. Nintendo of America announced last week that it will finally launch its much-awaited online subscription service in the second half of September. After the launch, a subscription will be needed to play multiplayer games like Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online, reports Newsweek. Single player and local multiplayer games will continue to operate as they do now. Nintendo has also revealed pricing for the new subscription service:
- 12 months: $19.99 (individual membership)
- 12 months: $34.99 (family membership*)
- 3 months: $7.99 (individual)
- 1 month: $3.99 (individual)
*A family membership can include up to seven other players. The purchaser of the family membership must be at least 18 years old and save their credit card information to link their PayPal account to a Nintendo Account through the Nintendo eShop.
Memberships can be purchased through Nintendo, Nintendo eShop, Amazon, BestBuy and GameStop, and they are available for pre-order now at the three-month and 12-month intervals.
Initially, the online subscription service will include 10 classic games including Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, Balloon Fight, Soccer, Tennis, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros 3 and Dr. Mario. Free-to-play games do not require a subscription. Nintendo said it will add another 10 games, not yet announced, and will regularly add new games.
As an added perk, gamers with active subscriptions can save their game progress to the cloud for easy access. This access, however, varies by game. Players cannot back up memory to a USB or other external drive, a feature offered by PS4 and Xbox One, says Newsweek.
“For the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy these classic NES games online. Depending on the game, players can engage in online competitive or co-op multiplayer, or take turns controlling the action,” says Nintendo. “Friends can even watch each other play single-player games online, and ‘pass the controller’ at any time. Every classic NES game will support voice chat vis the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. It will also be possible to play these games offline.”
Nintendo Switch owners will not automatically become members when the subscription service launches. Nintendo recommends those players purchase an individual or family membership so there is no disruption in online play.
The Nintendo Switch subscription service is less expensive than other services like Xbox Gold ($9.99 a month), Xbox One ($59.99 per year) and PlayStation Plus ($59.99 per year or $9.99 a month), but to be fair, the other services offer more games and other features including online storage.
As Nintendo’s first foray into subscription gaming, the Switch online gaming subscription is a good first step. Starting out with a low price is reasonable while its offerings are minimal. However, as Nintendo adds exclusive games and more features, it can – and should – command a higher price to remain competitive. It will be interesting to watch how these gaming subscriptions mature and evolve as they attract more subscribers. Much like the OTT market, they will have to offer exclusive games, features and perks to both attract and retain subscribers.