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Paid Nintendo Switch Online service is now planned for September launch

The Nintendo Switch launched without a paid subscription service for its online games, allowing anyone with an internet connection to play multiplayer in titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2. This wasn’t designed to last, with plans for a paid requirement to roll out last autumn. That didn’t end up happening, but Nintendo hasn’t abandoned its plans just yet — Nintendo Switch Online will now arrive in September 2018.

Following its original delay, Nintendo Switch Online was then planned for an “early 2018” release, but it isn’t clear why Nintendo has decided to delay introducing the paid requirement, with the Switch already breaking sales records and surpassing the Wii U in less than a year. The ease of entry has certainly made the system an easy sell, and requiring players to pay an extra fee could risk breaking up online communities. It’s possible that a new Switch-exclusive Pokémon game will be released in September, though the system’s portability could make any online functionality limited. The game has already been announced but no timetable has been given for its launch.

In addition to allowing online play, Nintendo Switch Online enables voice chat on the Switch through a separate smartphone app. It’s a complicated and archaic system that is currently compatible with Splatoon 2, and you must be connected to the game in order to chat with friends, making Skype or a regular phone call an attractive alternative.

Perhaps Nintendo Switch Online’s biggest selling point — and what has likely delayed the introduction of a Virtual Console on the system — is its “classic game selection.” All subscribers will get access to classic games including Super Mario Bros. 3 and Dr. Mario with online functionality. Instead of the few games a month offered by Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online will give you access to all games included in the vault,  and you “may” get discounts on digital games.

Pricing for Nintendo Switch Online remains unchanged from Nintendo’s previous announcements. A one-year membership will cost $20, while a three-month membership will cost $8. If you’re just interested in playing a particular online game at launch, you can also purchase a monthlong subscription for $4.

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