It looks like Nintendo might still be struggling to get its for-pay online services off the ground. Based on a recent report, it looks like it will be late 2018 when gamers are expected to fork over some additional cash to keep gaming online with the Switch.
According to Nintendo's Italian website (via Gameinformer), the Switch's premium online service is not expected to go live until Fall 2018. That's a bit later than the most recent projection of Spring 2018, which followed the initial Fall 2017 window.
Similar to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, the currently unnamed Nintendo premium program would require an extra annual charge for services such as online gaming. That feature is currently free on the Switch and will remain so until Nintendo is ready to launch this new program. Yet another delay has us thinking a number of scenarios could be at play here.
First, it's entirely possible that Nintendo simply hasn't worked out how, exactly, they want their program to work. It's been stated that their plan will run about $20-$25; about a third of what is paid for Microsoft and Sony's similar services. Plus and Gold, though, offer a lot more than access to online play. Nintendo's program was supposed to include some sort of retro gaming feature to sweeten the deal, which would apparently take the form of one free Virtual Console game a month that has had online multiplayer added in. Another rumored version of the program was that, instead of giving folks a free game, the price of admission would instead grant access to a sort of Virtual Console vault with access to a bunch of games at once.
That leads to scenario number two, which is that the Virtual Console or Virtual Console Arcade, we'll call it, aren't ready to roll yet. We can't imagine why Nintendo is having trouble bringing out the 18th iteration of their classic games, but it's always a possibility they're simply having trouble nailing things down. Sadly, the speculation is that if the premium online plan is delayed, that means the highly anticipated Virtual Console itself will also be delayed until late 2018.
Another possibility is that Nintendo doesn't feel there are enough games on the market to warrant an added charge yet. Only a handful of games on the Switch offer online multiplayer, and only a couple of those (Mario Kart, Splatoon 2) are massive draws. People might be turned off by the idea of forking over more money to enjoy online features for such a small library of games.
All-in-all, we consider this further evidence that the Switch wasn't quite ready for prime time when Nintendo launched it in early 2017. Still, not having all of the components ready to roll from day one hasn't slowed the console down, so we doubt Nintendo is sweating the fact that their online premium service is still a no show.