Playing online on Nintendo Switch will become paid in September
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Playing online on Nintendo Switch will become paid in September

Subscription packages will start from 4 euros per month. Nintendo follows in the footsteps of Sony and Microsoft, who also have their own subscriptions to enjoy connected games.

Mario Kart 8 online racing fans will soon have to go to the cash register. Starting in September, Nintendo Switch system owners will need to take out a subscription to continue enjoying the online game modes of their favorite titles, and those to come. Nintendo Switch Online offers degressive rates, with “one month for 3.99 euros”, “three months for 7.99 euros” or “one year for 19.99 euros” offers.

These rates are much lower than those charged by competitors. A year’s subscription to Sony’s PlayStation Plus or Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold costs 60 euros.

Charging for access to online modes on consoles is not new. Microsoft had inaugurated this formula in 2007 with its Xbox 360 console. Sony did the same in late 2013 with the PlayStation 4. Manufacturers claim that they can thus offer stable and efficient network infrastructures, in order to offer a comfortable experience to players. These subscriptions have become important sources of revenue for these companies, with over 30 million Sony PlayStation Plus subscribers worldwide.

Sony and Microsoft in turn offer services to their subscribers. They can download up to three games per month to their consoles. The list is established in advance and most often consists of blockbusters from the last five years. In May, PlayStation Plus subscribers can download Beyond Two Souls and Rayman Legends, both released in 2013. As soon as the subscription is canceled, access to these games becomes impossible.

A low-cost subscription for families

Nintendo will also offer additional services. Subscribers will be able to access many games from the NES era (the late 1980s), whose catalog will be regularly updated, and play them online with their friends. It would not be surprising if Nintendo extended its offer to more recent titles over the years. Another service is game backups in the cloud. This avoids bad manipulations (who has never erased a backup by mistake?) and allows you to find your progress on any Switch console by logging into your account. Nintendo also promises special offers for subscribers only.

The Japanese company also targets families with a low-cost offer called a “family subscription”. For €34.99 a year, it allows up to eight people to enjoy Nintendo Switch Online without having to use the same system. This amounts to a little more than 4 euros per year for each account, a very competitive rate. 

The Nintendo Switch Online should boost Nintendo’s digital revenues. The latter almost doubled in 2017 thanks to sales of dematerialized games. But Japanese society is starting from afar. It generated only €460 million in digital revenues last year, compared to €12 billion for Sony’s PlayStation 4! The competing console relies on PlayStation Plus subscriptions, but also on its share of game purchases, additional content, and subscriptions to Netflix or Spotify.

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