Just before Nintendo released its Switch console earlier this year, the company revealed that the system's online service will cost somewhere between $17 and $26 following a trial period. Its services, albeit bare bones, had previously been free.
Nintendo Everything translated a long interview from the Japanese Famitsu magazine, in which Nintendo general manager Shinya Takahashi and deputy general manager Yoshiaki Koizumi explained why the Big N will be charging for online play later this year.
"We’ll be maintaining the online service and providing new services that we haven’t had up until now, and there are costs associated with those," Takahashi said, according to the translation. "We’d also like to maintain a stable playing experience and provide proper support. We are working to prepare all of the features until the service begins in the fall of 2017, and details on the service will be available at a later time."
That message could be convincing — PlayStation had similar reasoning when it started charging for the PlayStation Network with the PS4 — except that we have no idea what those features are. And right now, what we do know sounds less than promising.
At the moment, you still need Friend Codes to make friends on the Switch (though Nintendo has promised to add more methods), and we know that online chat will occur through a phone app as opposed to directly through the system.
It's not a surprising change, though Nintendo fans are used to the free model that started with the Nintendo DS and extended through the Wii U. So whatever those features are, we sure hope they're worth it.