Alongisde the reveal of the Nintendo Switch games, price, and release date, Nintendo also revealed that they would be launching a new pay to play online service. It sounds a lot like what Microsoft does with Xbox Live and Sony does with the PlayStation Network.
Nintendo is also taking a queue from its competitors in offering a “free game” with the service which they’ll pull from their catalog of NES and SNES classics.
Microsoft and Sony use different rules for their promotions but generally if you keep your subscription active you continue to have access to these monthly freebies. Nintendo, however, is taking a different route. The monthly free classic title given to patrons will only be available for that month, and if you want to keep it, you have to buy it. A couple of tweets coming out of the Nintendo Switch reveal event outlined what appears to be a pretty confusing and not very consumer friendly policy.
Given the fact that these titles are incredibly old, Nintendo is really not offering an incredible value proposition for those who do sign-up for the online service. Microsoft and Sony both boast huge numbers when it comes to what they give away to their subscribers on a monthly basis. The yearly tallies in free extras that you get with both Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus are in the hundreds of dollars worth of free games per year.
It’s unfair to really judge the new service at this point. We know very little about it, how much it costs and how it will work. This initial tidbit of information about Nintendo’s new premium online service doesn’t sound that great if it’s priced similarly to Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus. Taking that a step further, Nintendo hasn’t generally been a console where multiplayer online has been a huge feature in their games and they don’t have the robust communication tools and network infrastructure of neither Microsoft or Sony.
We’ll find out more about the program as we head into launch, but Nintendo says that their online service will begin as a free trial in March. A paid service will begin in fall 2017.