You’ll need to PAY to play Nintendo Switch online from next week

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Nintendo fans will soon have to start paying for the privilege of playing video games online with their friends.

The video game company has finally revealed when online functionality, which has been free to access for all players since the launch of the Nintendo Switch last year, will become a paid-for extra for owners of the console.

Switch Online will launch on September 18 2018 and cost £18 ($20) for an annual subscription, or £3.49 ($3.99) for a month.

This marks the first time Nintendo has charged players to access online multiplayer features, which were available for free on the Wii and the Wii U. 

A free seven-day trial will be available to all Switch owners at launch. 

Nintendo announced plans for an online subscription plan back in March 2017, when the Switch first hit the shelves.

Unlike Nintendo, rival consoles Xbox and PlayStation rolled-out their paid online subscriptions – Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus – at the same time as their latest generation consoles.

This will be the the first time that Nintendo has ever charged for people to play online on one of its gadgets.

It will give video game players access to online features in popular titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2.

There will also be exclusives for Pokémon Let’s Go! and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In addition, players will be able to access a back catalogue of classic titles from the firm’s first console – the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

The 80s video gaming machine was responsible for the launch of some of the brand’s best loved characters, including Mario and Zelda.

In a written statement of its website, a spokesman for the company said: ‘You need to join the service to play online in Nintendo Switch games such as Splatoon 2, ARMS and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

‘Access to features such as online leaderboards and rankings does not require a paid Nintendo Switch Online membership.

‘You can join by purchasing a Nintendo Switch Online membership from locations such as Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, or the official Nintendo website, after the service launches.’

Not everyone is happy with the news, with  number of gamers taking to social media to vent their frustration.

Writing on Twitter, user Meido said: ‘Hold on a second. I thought the whole Switch ordeal was that it was some VIP membership thing.

‘But you’re telling me.. that they’re literally switching free online to forced paid subscription, months after the release of the console?

‘That’s uh. Pretty scummy, Nintendo.’

However, others called into question the outcry, particularly given criticism for Nintendo’s slow speeds for online gaming on its previous console, the Wii U.

Softness Liker said: ‘Gamers: “The Wii U should have a paid online service, these servers are terrible!”

‘Nintendo: “The Switch has subscription-based online.”

‘Gamers: “how could you do this to us?!”.’

The move comes after Nintendo announced in July that its quarterly profits had jumped 44 per cent in the fiscal first quarter, thanks to increased sales of Nintendo Switch game titles.

The firm revealed it had now sold 19.67 million units of the Nintendo Switch as of June 30, 2018.

The hybrid console, which works as both a TV connected console and as a portable system, has been a huge hit for the firm. 

The Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games said its net profit totaled 30.6 billion yen (£211 million / $274.9 million) during the April-June period, compared with 21.3 billion yen a year earlier. 

Quarterly sales rose 9 percent to 168.2 billion yen (£1.1 billion / $1.5 billion) over a year earlier while operating profit surged 88 percent to 30.5 billion yen (£210 million / $274 million).

Kyoto-based Nintendo credited new game titles for Nintendo Switch for profit growth. 

One of the new titles, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, sold 1.4 million units between May and June.

The Switch is a hybrid game machine that works both as a console and a tablet.

Hardware sales of Nintendo Switch also trended upward since the video game expo E3 was held in the U.S. and software sales are in good shape with upcoming launches of key titles, the company said.

Switch’s popularity helped offset declines in hardware and software sales of Nintendo 3DS.

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