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The Switch comes with a docking station, two Joy-Con controllers, and a Joy-Con Grip to make a more traditional controller. (Nintendo Photo)

Nintendo will launch a paid, online gaming service for the  popular Switch hybrid console next year.

Right now, Switch players have access to online gaming at no cost, but that ends in 2018 when the subscription service launches. The service won’t cost much though, at only $20 for the year, it is much less expensive than annual online subscriptions for Xbox or Sony PlayStation, which each charge $60 per year. Nintendo has previously offered online play for free with past consoles such as the Wii.

The online service, which Nintendo originally planned to launch this fall, will offer multiplayer gaming as well as a Netflix-like library of classic Nintendo games. We don’t know exactly which games will be included, but the company mentions Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario on the Switch online page.

Chat functions and the ability to organize games with friends is possible via a separate app rather than an integration directly into the online service. A free, limited version of the app will be available this summer.

The Switch console has been a hit since it was released in March, and it is sold out virtually everywhere. In its earnings call earlier this week, officials from videogame retailer GameStop said the company sold more Switch units in the first two months than it did Wiis back in 2006. The Wii is Nintendo’s best-selling, non-handheld console in company history.

 

The popularity of its flagship game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has played a role in the Switch’s popularity. It is one of the most highly rated games in history, and Nintendo has actually managed to sell more copies of the game than it has Nintendo Switches.

Given the positive momentum, it appears Nintendo may be gearing up to increase production. The Financial Times reports that Nintendo has ordered an additional 18 million Switch units to be produced by next March.

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