Nintendo Switch Online Family Group buttonSource: iMore/ Rene Ritchie

Nintendo has a special online service that Switch owners can subscribe to for a small fee. It gives us access to game-specific content within the Nintendo Switch Online app, online gameplay for compatible games, access to play classic NES game titles, and special discounts in the eShop. Here's everything you need to know about Nintendo's online subscription service.

Just a taste

Nintendo Switch Online 3-month individual subscription

This is the quarterly subscription for a single person. Only choose this if you are still not sure after the free trial.

All you can play

Nintendo Switch Online 12-month individual subscription

This is the yearly subscription for a single person. Perfect for a person on their own.

For the family

Nintendo Switch Online 12-month Family subscription

The family subscription gives you, and seven other people access to Switch Online. It is the cheapest way for people to play. Of course, you don't actually need to be family to use it, invite your friends and anyone else who wants to play Switch Online for less expense.

What's in this article?

What's new with Nintendo Switch Online?

February 19, 2020: Two new SNES and two new NES Online titles arrive

There are a total of four new games arriving in the NES and SNES app for Nintendo Switch Online members. You'll get Shadow of the Ninja (NES), Eliminator Boat Duel (NES), Pop'n TwinBee (SNES), and Smash Tennis (SNES). Pop'n TwinBee and Smash Tennis have never had a North American release until now.

Pop'n TwinBee is a vertical scrolling top-down shooter from Konami. It was originally released in 1993 in Japan and PAL regions, but never once made its way to the U.S. Smash Tennis, also known as Super Family Tennis in Japan, is made by Namco and also came out in 1993. The name changed to Smash Tennis when it went to Europe in 1994.

April 2, 2019: Tetris 99 released as Switch online exclusive

With the launch of Switch Online, Nintendo has made Tetris 99 a free download. For those who don't know Tetris 99 is a battle royale version of Tetris. Yup, you heard that right, 99 of you all play a different game of Tetris each but as you complete lines you send those lines to other people making it harder for them to win.

Each player gets eliminated if their Tetris tower reaches the top until one player becomes victorious! It's an entertaining take on Tetris, and as a free exclusive, it's well worth the download.

September 12, 2018: Launch day revealed!

Well, we can finally stop wondering. We have a launch day for the Nintendo Switch Online service. Nintendo announced through their Twitter account that Nintendo Switch Online will launch on September 18. If you aren't quite sure whether or not the service is for you, you will be able to try it out with a free 7-day trial. If you want to get in on the free trial run, all you have to do is create an account on launch day, and you will be able to get a taste on the online service.

If you want to know more details, it seems that there will be more coming from the Nintendo Direct presentation on September 13.

Aug. 30, 2018: Nintendo Switch Online release window gets smaller, and Super Mario 3 gets teased!

In the last month, Nintendo has dropped a few tweets that gave us a little more information about the forthcoming online service.

On Aug. 9, The Nintendo of America Twitter account let us know that we could expect the service to launch sometime in the second half of September. With no word of a specific date as of yet, this is the best we have to go on right now.

A few days later, from the same account, we got a lovely little tease of Super Mario Brothers 3 on the Switch. While we were already aware that access to this game was imminent, it serves as a nice little reminder of the classic Nintendo gaming bonuses that will be coming with the online service.

July 25, 2018: Nintendo Switch Online is available for preorder right now!

If you're itching to drop some dollar bills Nintendo's way, you can preorder your Nintendo Switch Online service right now on Amazon. Though the service won't sell out ahead of time, it's one way for Nintendo to see how much interest there is. You can grab a digital download code for a 12-month subscription for $20 or 3-month subscription for $8. Though the Amazon page shows that the code will be available on December 31, 2018, that's just a temporary holding date. Nintendo has already stated that it'll be available in September.

May 14, 2018: Nintendo announces the addition of cloud saves to the Nintendo Switch online service.

Saints of Nintendo be praised! No longer will we have to live life on the razor's edge. No longer will we have to live in fear of losing fifty plus hours of gameplay. Cloud save functionality will be coming to the Nintendo Switch. The feature will only be available to those who subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions service, but it's better than what we have right now, which is nothing.

Also, Nintendo announced that the classic NES titles which will be available for free with the service will include online play. I have to admit that that is pretty darned cool. If you want to play some two-player Super Mario Brothers 3, you don't have to huddle around your dusty old NES. You can actually play with someone on the other side of the globe with this forthcoming subscription service.

What does a subscription get me?

With a subscription to Nintendo Online, you'll get five major exclusive features:

  • Online gameplay - You'll have to pay to play with others online in most games. For example, if you're a high-ranking racer in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you're going to want to protect your rank and the only way to do that is to pay for online play. This includes co-operative and competitive games.
  • Access to the Nintendo Switch Online app - Nintendo has a special app that is exclusive to Switch and offers special content for specific games. It includes such features as voice chat, leaderboards, a special gear shop, game invites for friends, and more. Without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you won't be able to get any of this exclusive content.
  • Game save data backups - With a subscription, you can back up your game save data to the cloud so it is significantly less likely that you'll lose those hours and hours of gameplay if something should happen to your Switch. Unfortunately, some games won't support cloud saves, such as Pokémon Sword and Shield and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
  • Classic Game Selection - Nintendo has included a library of classic NES and SNES games you can play alone or with friends on your Switch — games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Star Fox, and more. We don't have to pay anything extra for these games, but if you cancel your Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you'll lose access to them. Here's a list of the games you can play.
  • Discounts on eShop games - In addition to dropping some classic titles in our laps at no additional charge, Nintendo gives us deals on eShop purchases that non-subscribers don't get.

How much does it cost?

You can subscribe to an individual Nintendo Switch Online membership for one month, three months, or one year for $3.99, $7.99, or $19.99 respectively. A Family membership allows a total of eight people to share one subscription, but it is only available in yearly increments and costs $34.99.

3-month subscription ($8 at Amazon)

This is the quarterly subscription for a single person. Only choose this if you are still not sure after the free trial.

12-month subscription ($20 at Amazon)

This is the yearly subscription for a single person. Perfect for a person on their own.

12-month family subscription ($35 at Amazon)

The family subscription gives you, and seven other people access to Switch Online. It is the cheapest way for people to play.

Can't I just use my Wii U or 3DS account?

Nope. Sorry. This subscription is exclusive to Nintendo Switch. No sharesies.

Which countries are supported?

Right now, Nintendo Switch Online is only available in the following countries:

  • U.S.
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Peru

How do I subscribe?

You'll need a Nintendo Account to subscribe. Chances are, you've already got one, but just in case you don't here's how to sign up for one:

How to sign up for a Nintendo Account

Once you sign up for a Nintendo Account and log in, just mosey on over to the Nintendo eShop, go to the Nintendo Switch Online section, choose your membership option, and start your 7-day trial or just sign up fully for the service.

How to sign up for Nintendo Switch Online

What does not having a subscription get me?

Just in case you're faced with the decision to pay for Nintendo Switch Online or go without, here's what you still get to do on your Switch, even without the subscription:

  • Access to the Nintendo Switch eShop - You know, so you can buy the games.
  • Register and manage friends - You don't get to talk to them or anything, but you'll know when they're on and what they're playing (if they've got that info turned on).
  • Share screenshots to social media - No one gets left out of the soch meeds.
  • Access to Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app - Because Nintendo would be stupid to restrict this behind a paywall.
  • The ability to take screenshots - It doesn't matter if you're online or not, you can still take screenshots to show your friends.
  • You're still able to access YouTube - Despite YouTube being an online app, you don't need Switch Online to use it.
  • You can still connect your Nintendo Switch account to a friend's Switch - It doesn't matter whether you've got online or not, you can still change your primary account on the Nintendo eShop.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about Nintendo's online subscription service? Put them in the comments, and I'll help you out.

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