Like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, Switch Online locks multiplayer gameplay behind a yearly subscription fee. It also comes with its own dedicated smartphone app that provides voice chat and other social functions. It was originally scheduled to launch in late 2017 before Nintendo decided to delay it.
The Nintendo Switch had a great first year. It’s reportedly sold over 17 million units since its launch in March 2017. Nintendo predicts it can do even better in the coming year and sell 20 million more of the hybrid console, along with 100 million games.
Once the online service launches in September 2018, it will additionally offer discounts on the Nintendo eShop, along with a compilation of retro titles with added online play. A 12-month membership will cost $20, which to Nintendo’s credit is a lot cheaper than its competitors. PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold each cost $60.
“We view the online service as one component of our efforts to diversify how our games are played and to get people to play more of our games,” Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima, who announced his retirement Thursday, said during a recent Q&A. “That is why we want to apply substantial resources to the online service, with the thinking that we will devote our energies to making this a for-pay service.”
He added Nintendo has ideas on how to make the service appealing when it goes live in September. “I think our next announcement will be worth the wait,” he said.