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Nintendo reveals surprisingly low annual cost for Switch online service in Japan

Why it matters to you

Besides giving Nintendo's Switch a competitive edge over Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, a reasonable annual subscription fee should please prospective owners of the upcoming console.

Nintendo discussed its pricing strategy for the upcoming Nintendo Switch’s pay-to-play online service on Wednesday, revealing an annual fee that’s a fraction of what players pay for similar services on competing console platforms like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

While pricing for North America has not yet been revealed, Nintendo notes that Japanese players could pay between 2,000 yen ($17.50) and 3,000 yen ($26.50) for an annual subscription, suggesting that a similar price range is in store for other regions.

More: Nintendo has revealed a price and release date for the Switch

During a showcase event in January, Nintendo revealed that the Switch will require an annual fee for online multiplayer and other network services. While rival console manufacturers Sony and Microsoft previously instituted annual fees for online multiplayer features for their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One titles, respectively, Nintendo has never required a subscription fee for its own games, marking a significant shift in strategy.

Nintendo’s suggested pricing is a major point in its favor, however, as PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold annual subscriptions cost $60 each in the United States. That’s potentially more than twice or even three times as much as a Switch subscription will be, based on fees in Japan. Players who pay Nintendo’s annual fee will get access to online multiplayer features in upcoming games like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, along with other member-exclusive perks that will be revealed at a later date.

More: ‘Splatoon 2’: Our First Take

The Nintendo Switch console will hit store shelves worldwide in March alongside a selection of launch titles including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1, 2, Switch. Unlike previous Nintendo consoles, the Switch can be removed from its TV-connected dock and used as a portable gaming device, allowing players to seamlessly resume in-progress games while traveling.

While details regarding Nintendo’s paid online service remain scarce, company officials previously confirmed that subscribers will get access to one free NES or SNES Virtual Console game every month. Unlike similar offerings for Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, Nintendo’s free games will be revoked at the end of each month, requiring players to buy full versions for continued access.

The Nintendo Switch launches on March 3.