For the first time, Nintendo will charge you to play games online

Nintendo switch event 2017Screenshot/Matt WeinbergerIf you want to play the forthcoming ‘Splatoon 2’ for Nintendo Switch online after Fall 2017, you’ll need to pay up.

The Nintendo Switch, the new $299 console launching on March 3, will be the first Nintendo console to require a premium, paid subscription service if you want to play games online.

The details are on Nintendo’s site, but the upshot is that the gaming company will offer a free trial of this online service starting in March, but at some point in Fall 2017, it will transition to being paid — though Nintendo says it will announce pricing specifics later.

The good news is that subscribers to this service will get one free download of a classic NES or Super NES game, with online play enabled (whoa), per month. Plus, Nintendo says, subscribers will be eligible for discounts on the Switch’s online store.

Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll get if you subscribe, versus keeping a free account:

Nintendo consoles have offered online play since the Nintendo DS got the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection service in 2005, supported by games including “Mario Kart DS.” But this is the first time Nintendo has charged for the privilege of playing games online.

Microsoft and Sony both offer premium online gaming services: Notably, Microsoft requires Xbox gamers to subscribe to the $60/year Xbox Live service if they want to play online, while rival Sony’s $60/year PlayStation Plus service merely confers extra benefits, while playing online is free for all on its consoles.

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