Nintendo switches launch date for paid online service to 2018

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Update: In a statement to Kotaku, Nintendo has thrown more light on how exactly it's changed its plans for the online service. 

Now we know that subscribers to the service will have "ongoing access to a library of classic games with added online play." Users will be able to download and play as many games in this library as they want for as often as they like, just as long as their subscription is still active. 

Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario will be some of the games available at launch but "more games will be announced at a later date." Nintendo has said though the library will include NES games at launch, Super NES games may appear in the future.  

How this could impact the future of Nintendo's Virtual Console remains unclear and Nintendo said it has nothing more to announce with regards to it at the moment. 

After months of speculation, Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has finally shed some more light on its upcoming subscription-based online service for the Nintendo Switch via a post on the company's official website.

Initially expected to arrive shortly after the Switch's retail release, the launch of Nintendo's new paid online gaming service has been pushed back to sometime in 2018. In the meantime, Switch owners will continue to be able to compete against friends and play co-op online for free, so long as they hold a Nintendo Account. 

Thankfully, players won't have to wait until next year to chat online and set play appointments, with Nintendo announcing that a limited free version of its online service smart device app will arrive sometime in Summer 2017 (that's Winter 2017 for those of us residing below the equator). 

Along with this news, Nintendo has also announced the subscription service's pricing. Customers can choose to pay $3.99 (around £3.10/AU$5.40) for a 1-month membership, $7.99 (around £6.20/AU$10.80) for a 3-month membership and $19.99 (around £15.50/AU$27) for a 12-month membership.

Though it had been speculated that Nintendo would launch a Virtual Console alongside its paid online service, the information divulged today puts that in doubt. 

We've known for a while that a subscription to the service would include access to a classic Nintendo game each month, though it's now been confirmed that these will be part of a compilation in which the selected games will receive added online play. 

So far, the NES titles Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario have been announced as part of the compilation. No mention was made regarding the rumored launch of a traditional Virtual Console for Switch, which is expected to include titles from previous Nintendo consoles, including SNES, Nintendo 64, Wii and, for the first time, GameCube

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.