For the first time in its history, Nintendo is selling its online features at a premium. Nintendo Switch Online has been in the works since the console’s first year on the market, but Nintendo has only recently begun to shed light on what to expect from the upcoming subscription service.
We’ve compiled everything we know about the service so far, and will continue to update as more info becomes available.
What is Nintendo Switch Online?
Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo’s subscription-based online service for Switch games. It works with an accompanying mobile app, where players will be able to access and interact with a number of exclusive features.
What features does it offer?
The main feature of Nintendo Switch Online is online multiplayer for games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms. At launch, Nintendo offered multiplayer connectivity for free, but as of September 2018, Switch owners have to pay to play those games online.
There are two other big selling points for Nintendo Switch Online: the ability to play a library of Nintendo Entertainment System games, which will be updated on a continuing basis and have online capabilities, and cloud storage for save data.
Wait, will I still be able to play any of my games online for free?
Nintendo says that you will have to check out either its website, the Switch eShop or the game’s packaging to see if a Nintendo Switch Online subscription is required. But Nintendo’s own games will require the service to get into online multiplayer.
What about the Switch’s other, current internet-connected capabilities?
Nintendo says that the Switch eShop, registering and managing friends, screenshot sharing to social media, Nintendo Switch Parental Controls, system and software updates, and the regularly updated Nintendo Switch News feed won’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
What does the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app do?
The Switch Online app, which is available for Android and iOS devices, is required for in-game voice chat. It also encourages players to connect and invite each other into multiplayer game sessions. The app also offers “special features” for certain games; currently the only game to use it in that way is Splatoon 2, which offers battle stats and in-game purchases through the app.
OK, what about cloud saves — is using Nintendo Switch Online the only way to back up save data?
Yep. We’ve all wanted cloud storage for our Switch consoles since launch, so it’s a good thing that the service will provide it. But there remains no other free, offline option to back up save data from the system’s internal storage.
So what about the NES games? Which ones are available to play?
The NES games available to Switch Online subscribers come with unique enhancements over the original releases. Each one will support some sort online multiplayer, including the ability to play cooperatively or competitively with friends. Some NES games will simply let Switch owners share their screen with someone else, or let them “pass the controller” back and forth. It depends on the game.
Nintendo will offer 20 NES games for subscribers once the service is live. We only know 10 of them thus far. Here’s that list of classics:
Do I have to pay extra to play these games?
Nope. They’re included as part of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
Do I get to keep the NES games forever?
Doesn’t sound like it. Nintendo will only let you play these upgraded games so long as you’re a Switch Online subscriber. But you can download them and play them offline.
How much does Nintendo Switch Online cost?
There are several tiers. A 12-month subscription costs $19.99. You can also subscribe for one month for $3.99, or for three months for $7.99.
There’s also a family membership program, which allows a Nintendo Account member to join up with as many as seven other folks to access the Switch Online service. Ostensibly, all eight people can split the $34.99 cost of the 12-month membership, getting a year’s worth of service for less than $5 per person. Nintendo hasn’t established the terms of who qualifies to take part in a person’s family group, however. Here are the details it has provided thus far:
Starting May 15, 2018, it will be possible to create a Nintendo Account Family Group via your Nintendo Account settings. Up to eight Nintendo Accounts (including child accounts) can be linked as a family group.
When’s it available?
Nintendo Switch Online will go live sometime in September. Nintendo has yet to be more specific than that.
- Xbox Scarlett vs. Nintendo Switch
- Two New Nintendo Switch Games Stealth Released Today
- New NES controllers headline announcement-filled Nintendo Switch presentation
- Dauntless Surprise Launches on Nintendo Switch Today
- These cheap Nintendo Switch Lite bundles are packed with extras you actually want for Christmas
- Nintendo Direct Indies World Showcase: 'Axiom Verge 2' and Every Announcement From Latest Stream
- New Nintendo Switch games revealed just in time for Christmas in surprise announcement
- Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris Release Date Revealed
- PlayStation State of Play: Start Time and How to Watch Online
- The Game Awards 2019: Start Time & How to Watch Online