Nintendo's online premium service kept getting delayed but the company has finally settled on a solid release window for the elevated and upgraded version of the Nintendo Network for the Nintendo Switch. Right now the service is free, so it's best to get in play time while you can, but, starting later this year, you'll have to pay a fee to play online.
As noted in the tweet from the official Nintendo of America Twitter account, the premium version of the Nintendo Network will go live starting September of 2018. While Nintendo had, last year, announced that the paid version of the service would go live in the fall, it's still true, but it's going to be a year later than what the company had originally planned.
This fits with rumors from late last year when Nintendo had announced that the Nintendo Network would be delayed into early 2018. The rumors, however, told a different story, pointing out that the service would be delayed to a fall 2018 window.
It looks like Nintendo's early 2018 slate was the incorrect one, and the online service will instead move into fall as the rumors had suggested.
A lot of gamers aren't entirely thrilled at the idea of having to pay to play online with the Nintendo Switch. Right now, the online service is most certainly acceptable. You can boot up a game like Mario Kart 8: Deluxe or Splatoon 2 and hop right into a game without any extra steps. Once your basic Nintendo Network account is setup, it's as easy to play games online as setting up the Switch's Wi-Fi and then hopping into your favorite game.
Finding games and relying on the matchmaking works well enough, and playing online modes like Mario Kart 8's competitive and battle modes is as seamless as playing the single-player races and offline battle modes with other players via the local offerings.
The new online service will carry a $20 annual fee with it, which has not gone down well with everyone. Some are defending the move, stating that Sony and Microsoft charge over $50 for those online services, so it's cheaper than the competition. Others are bringing up how Steam has the best online service of the three and it's free, which includes voice-chat, group parties, friends list, broadcasting, party invites, clan systems, and more.
Nintendo hasn't revealed if the premium version of the Nintendo Network will come with things like a proper party feature, or voice chat beyond what the Switch currently has, but many fans are hoping that when Nintendo details the new version of the Nintendo Network for the Nintendo Switch that it'll have everything that PSN and Xbox Live currently features, and then some. We'll likely find out exactly what the premium network will offer closer to its launch.