Nintendo Switch’s online service will cost under $30 per year

Nintendo worried many a gamer two weeks ago with its announcement that online play on its new console, the Switch, would be a paid service. But at least the damage is reasonable: Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told the Nikkei that it would have an annual fee of ¥2,000-3,000 — around $17-26 at today’s exchange rates.

That’s considerably less than Playstation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, which you can generally get for around $40-60 per year. But online access has always been free and unique for Nintendo consoles, so the move is disturbing to longtime fans.

Add to that the fact that voice chat and game matching take place over a smartphone app, and that the monthly free NES game given to subscribers is deleted at the end of the month — players are understandably piqued. You’ll be able to play local multiplayer without the account, of course, but it’s unknown right now what other capabilities might be wrapped into the paid service.

Kimishima also indicated that the company was “studying” VR capability for the console. It was suggested in patents that the Switch might function as a VR screen, but there was no mention of it at the media event where other details were spilled.

The Switch is coming on March 3 for $300; the online service will be free until later this year.