Nintendo has joined the subscription-based bandwagon with its recently announced Switch Online. Here's what you need to know about the service.

Price and release date

The service costs US$20 per annum, US$8 for a three-month subscription, or US$4 for one month. It will be released in 2018. Switch Online can be played free of charge until it launches next year.

Switch Online works through a mobile app where users can do voice chat and online lobby. This will be launched in the summer. Nintendo explains via its blog, "Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─ all from your smart device. A free, limited version of this app will be available for download in summer 2017."

Open access

Initially, Nintendo planned to give Switch Online subscribers access to a different game every month. But, this has changed. Subscribers will have an open access to a tonne of Nintendo games, including the classic ones like Super Mario Bros. 3, Dr. Mario, and Balloon Fight, among many others, and they will have added online features.

Nintendo told Kotaku: "Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will have ongoing access to a library of classic games with added online play. Users can play as many of the games as they want, as often as they like, as long as they have an active subscription."

Virtual Console's fate

The Kyoto firm added that more games will soon be revealed in line with the online service. Will NES titles be included? "Super NES games continue to be under consideration, but we have nothing further to announce at this time", says Nintendo. It remains uncertain whether or not Nintendo is planning to ditch the Virtual Console which allows players to purchase old titles on 3Ds, Wii, and Wii U.