When Nintendo launched the Switch in March of last year, the system was missing some of the basic online functionality that is a cornerstone of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Various online-enabled games have come out since then that let you play against other people over the internet, but Nintendo has maintained that at some point in the future you will have to pay for that ability just like Xbox owners do. Today, Nintendo has announced the exact date when that will happen: September 18.
Starting next week, you’ll have to pay $20 per year (or $4 per month, or $8 per three months) to be able to play Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. against children who are much better than you online, but it’s not a completely raw deal. Subscribers to the online service will also get access to 20 “online-enabled” NES games, including good ones like The Legend Of Zelda and slightly less-good ones like Balloon Fight, with Nintendo planning to add more games at some point in the future. (We’ll ignore the fact that Nintendo already got a ton of people to buy these same games with its NES Classic, but those weren’t “online-enabled.”)
The service will also introduce cloud saves for certain games, meaning you’ll no longer lose the 200 hours you spent in Breath Of The Wild if you break your Switch while carrying it around at a cool party like in the commercials. A seven-day free trial will be available at launch next week, and Nintendo will be giving out more information during its Nintendo Direct presentation tomorrow evening.