The Nintendo Switch Online service was expected to arrive in 2017, but its launch was delayed for some reason. Nintendo has now officially confirmed that the premium online subscription offering would launch in September 2018. The Nintendo Switch Online service will allow users to play games online with their friends and also get access to a selection of classic Nintendo games. Nintendo did not reveal much else about the paid service.
How much will the Nintendo Switch Online service cost?
Nintendo has been offering the online multiplayer service for free since the Switch launch in March 2017, and it will remain free until the Nintendo Switch Online service launches in September. However, the free service is currently limited to only a handful of games making use of Nintendo’s mobile apps for game invites and voice chat. It will be the first time Nintendo will be offering a paid online service for its consoles.
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— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 1, 2018
Sony and Microsoft offer their own premium online services PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, respectively. But they are far more expensive than what Nintendo is going to charge for its premium service. The Nintendo Switch Online service would cost $3.99 per month. If you want a quarterly subscription, it will cost you $7.99. The annual subscription has been priced at $19.99, according to Nintendo’s website.
Besides online multiplayer gameplay, Nintendo’s online service will give you access to classic games from the back catalog such as Balloon Fight, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario. However, the classic games will be free only for a given month. Every month, Nintendo will roll out new games and remove the previous offerings. The company is also said to be adding online features such as multiplayer and leaderboards to these classic games.
Nintendo Switch surpasses the lifetime sales of Wii U
Earlier this week, Nintendo revealed that the Switch has surpassed the lifetime sales of the Wii U, which had sold 13.6 million units between 2012 and 2017. The Switch sold 14.86 million units in just ten months of launch. The company says its sales momentum is even better than that of the Wii, which sold about 102 million units in its lifetime. Nintendo shipped 7.23 million Switch consoles in the holiday quarter alone.
On the back of strong Nintendo Switch sales, the company reported highest quarterly profits since 2009. For the December quarter, Nintendo posted operating profits of 116.5 billion yen ($1.06 billion), up from just 32 billion yen in the same quarter a year ago. It has also raised its profit forecast for the fiscal year ending March from 120 billion to 160 billion yen.
Nintendo told investors that it expects to sell 20 million Switch consoles this year. Super Mario Odyssey was the best-selling title for the Switch. Nintendo sold 9.07 million copies of the game since its release in October last year. Launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold 6.7 million copies while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold 7.33 million copies. Splatoon 2 sold close to 5 million copies.
Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told investors during the earnings call that Nintendo Switch sales were stronger than expected in the US, Europe, and Japan during the holiday shopping season. The Kyoto-based company has said earlier that it was planning to target non-gamers to get them to buy Switch.
Labo to help boost Nintendo Switch sales further
Earlier this month, the company announced a family-friendly interactive gaming experience called Nintendo Labo. It’s a set of DIY cardboard accessories that combines “DIY creations with the magic of Nintendo Switch.” The Labo will allow you to build cardboard versions of robots, motorbikes, fishing rods, and pianos. These DIY creations will be called Toy-Con. You will be able to insert the Joy-Con controllers into the Toy-Con to enjoy the cardboard creation-themed games.
The objective of Labo is to give kids a hands-on experience while playing games on the Switch. Nintendo Labo is now available for pre-order and will go on sale on April 20th. It will launch in two versions – a Variety Kit that would cost you $70 and a Robot Kit priced at $80. The Variety Kit will have Toy-Cons for five different games – fishing rod, house, piano, motorbike, and two RC cars. The Robot Kit will allow you to build an interactive robot suit that you can wear to take control of the virtual in-game robot.
Nintendo says Labo will help it maintain the sale momentum in the second year of Switch launch. Consumers who purchased the console in the first year were already Nintendo fans. Labo is part of the company’s attempt to expand its audience.