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Nintendo has become the latest gaming company to implement a paid online subscription service, launching the new ‘Nintendo Switch Online’ for US$20/year.

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The company was the last major console manufacturer to offer free online multiplayer gaming, with commentators claiming today’s news marks the end of an era.

Since Nintendo’s Switch launch early 2017, consumers have been able to play games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online for free.

The new service will cost players US$20/year, and will offer access to online game-play, excluding the wildly popular Fortnite.

A slew of other features will also be included – e.g. access to a ‘classic’ game library [starting] with 20 NES games, cloud save support for selected games, a smartphone app for multiplayer gaming voice chats, and “exclusive” hardware offers.

The service joins the likes of Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold.

Whilst offering many of the same features as Microsoft and Sony’s offerings, Nintendo’s Switch Online is considered significantly more price competitive – US$20/year versus around US$60/year.

That being said, Microsoft and Sony’s online library of free games is currently much wider than Nintendo – time will tell if this improves.

Currently, some commentators claim Microsoft and Sony’s subscription services ‘pay for themselves’ within the first few months, according to the value of free games.

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