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Nintendo courts families with Switch Online service

Eight-person membership available, alongside cloud saves and free NES games

Nintendo has finally detailed the benefits of joining its online service for Switch, which is due to launch in September, and appears to be reaching beyond the core gamer audience with its pricing plans.

In an official post on Nintendo's website, the platform holder reiterated US pricing and the fees are likely to be similar in all other markets. Individuals will be able to subscribe for one month at $3.99, three months at $7.99 or a full year at $19.99 - noticeably cheaper than rival services on PlayStation and Xbox.

What's more interesting is the 12-month family membership, just $15 at $34.99. This enables up to eight Nintendo Account holders - notably more than typical family plans - to all share the same subscription "even on different systems."

It's a move that signifies that Nintendo is once again targeting families, younger players and less traditional gamers by trying to make their service as inexpensive as possible. The early success of the Nintendo Switch was undeniably driven by core gamers, the platform holder is quickly trying to reach beyond this demographic with titles like last month's Nintendo Labo - no doubt attempting to win back the broader audience that made the original Wii such a hit.

The ability to share a subscription "even on different systems" also points to Nintendo's previously-stated goal to have multiple Switch systems per household, ideally reaching the point where every member of the family (or thereabouts) has a unit of their own. If accomplished, this would enable Switch to not only surpass Wii but perhaps contend with the original DS' lifetime sales.

The Nintendo Switch Online subscription entitles users to the ability to play multiplayer games online - a new restricting that will come into effect when the service launches in September. Currently there is no barrier or fee to playing online.

Additional benefits include the backup cloud saves, and extra feaures for the Nintendo Switch Online app, which enables voice chat.

Finally, Nintendo has clarified its earlier promise of a classic games collection. When the Switch Online service launches, subscribers will be able to play 20 classic NES games - many of which will feature online functionality for the first time. This not only includes co-operative and competitive multiplayer, but also seems to suggest online users will be able to work through single-player games together by swapping which user is controlling the action.

The initial line-up will include Balloon Fight, Dr Mario and Super Mario Bros 3, Donkey Kong, Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Soccer, Super Mario Bros and Tenns. A further 10 titles will be added to the launch lineup collection at some point in future - and it's highly likely Nintendo will expand to games from other systems such as SNES and N64 in the years to come.

The Nintendo Switch Online service was originally supposed to launch last year, but was pushed back to September 2018.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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