Nintendo Reveals Switch Online Price, Possibility Of VR Support

Nintendo’s showcase of the Switch hybrid console in January came with the revelation that the company would begin charging for using the online service, similar to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima discussed the potential price range for the all-new service along with the potential of supporting virtual reality (VR) gaming in a new interview.

The Nintendo Switch online service is expected to be between $17.60 and $26.40 (2,000 to 3,000 yen) per year, Kimishima told The Nikkei on Wednesday. The final price in North America and Europe will likely depend on currency conversion, but this is still a far cry from the $60 a year charged for PlayStation Plus and Xbox LIVE Gold.

“With paid [services], we will be able to fully commit to customers,” said Kimishima.

As previously covered, the Nintendo Switch online service will start out at no cost. This appears to be a cross between drawing people into using the new service as well as giving Nintendo a chance to give it a shakedown run before it begins to charge users later in 2017.

[Image by Nintendo]

The cost of Nintendo’s new online service will pay for online multiplayer and related services, plus grant subscribers what is essentially a one-month rental of a classic NES or SNES title via digital download.

An interesting aspect of the online service is Nintendo’s plans to use a smartphone app for features such as friends list, matchmaking, and online chat. This is a risky departure from typical online console usage, but it also is likely a way for the company to cut back on costs. Most everyone that has a console has a smartphone already. Offloading some data traffic to a cellular carrier cuts back on needed resources for the Switch.

A for games, the Nintendo Switch launches March 3 in the United States, Europe, and Japan with a small lineup of games anchored by the highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo originally announced there were 80 games in development from 50 different publishers at the January reveal event. That has now expanded to over 100 titles from 70 publishers.

Kimishima shared the growth in the Switch’s software line-up in during a recent financial earnings briefing. The Nintendo President stated the company received requests from more publishers following the January 13 presentation.

Splatoon 2 for the Nintendo Switch.
[Image by Nintendo]

Will that line-up of titles include virtual reality games, though? That does not appear to be the case anytime soon. Kimishima explained Nintendo is “studying” adding VR functionality to the Nintendo Switch but provided no inkling on if or when it will ever arrive.

“If we are able to resolve the issues with playing [VR] comfortably for long hours, we will support it in one form or another,” he said.

That ignores the question of whether the Nintendo Switch is capable of delivering a virtual reality experience. A consistent 60 frames per second (fps) is needed to deliver a satisfying VR experience. Mario Kart 8 shows Nintendo Switch is capable of delivering 1080p and 60 fps on a TV. Whether it can do the same in a way that is noticeably better than mobile VR experiences from Samsung or Google is the question.

On the plus side, the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are already VR friendly. The two controllers slip neatly in the palm of a user’s hand to provide motion controllers and all the necessary buttons. Nintendo has managed to squeeze quite a bit of technology into the controllers HD Rumble, an IR camera, plus the gyros and sensors necessary for motion control as well as full face and shoulder buttons.

What do you think of the proposed Nintendo Switch online price range shared by Nintendo President Kimishima? Sound off in the comments below.

[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nintendo of America]