Nintendo Switch Online Service: Is it worth it?

Nintendo Switch Online Family Group button
Nintendo Switch Online Family Group button (Image credit: iMore/ Rene Ritchie)

Nintendo Switch Online Service: Is it worth it?

Best Answer: It's definitely worth it, but only if subscribers make use of the majority of its services. Nintendo Switch Online is only $20 a year for individuals. There's also a Family Plan for $35 a year, and it supports up to eight users on a single Family Plan.

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you play a lot of games online?

Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer Local

Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer Local (Image credit: Nintendo)

Before Nintendo Switch Online debuted, everyone could play their Switch games online for free. Now that ability is locked behind Nintendo Switch Online's paywall, so you'll either need to pony up for the individual service at $4 per month or $20 per year or join a Family Membership at $35 per year for up to eight people for more savings. Nintendo also released the Expansion Pack on October 25, 2021 with a higher pricing tier, at $50 per year for individuals or $80 per year for a Family Membership.

The service itself gives you back the ability to play your favorite Nintendo Switch games online, such as Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Monster Hunter Rise, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and pretty much everything else that has online connectivity. The only exceptions to this rule are free-to-play Switch games like Fortnite, which don't require an online subscription to play. If you were playing a lot of games online before the service debuted and would rather not be without it, then this alone makes the cost of the membership worth it.

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you want to voice chat with your friends while playing?

Nintendo Switch Online Voice Chat

Nintendo Switch Online Voice Chat (Image credit: Nintendo (screenshot))

Nintendo Switch Online also grants you the ability to use voice chat with certain games in the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app. However, we found that Nintendo has an overall poor implementation of voice chat, and you're better off using Discord or Skype when gaming with your Switch friends.

Either way, there are currently only a few games that support voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online app:

  • ARMS
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered
  • Saints Row: The Third — The Full Package
  • Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition
  • Splatoon 2
  • Stardew Valley
  • Super Mario Party
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • TT Isle of Man

If you insist on using it though, you can do things like schedule gaming sessions, voice chat, and sometimes get exclusive gear in games (like in Splatoon 2). The entire retro Nintendo Switch Online library also supports voice chat through the app.

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? - Do you want to have a backup of your game save data in the cloud?

Switch playing Splatoon 2

Switch playing Splatoon 2 (Image credit: iMore)

Chances are high that you've invested dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours into all of your Nintendo Switch games by now. With Nintendo Switch Online, you'll get automatic cloud backups for all of your games that currently support the feature. This means one less thing to worry about if something happens to your Switch because you can just pick up where you last left off.

However, some games do not support cloud saves. For the most part, unless it's specifically stated, you can assume that all games should be supporting it. At the moment, here are the exceptions:

  • 1-2-Switch
  • 8-Bit ADV Steins;Gate
  • A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher
  • A Fold Apart
  • A Sound Plan
  • Air Hockey
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Arcade Archives IKARI III -THE RESCUE-
  • Asphalt 9: Legends
  • Bass Pro Shops: The Strike - Championship Edition
  • Battle Supremacy - Evolution
  • Battleground
  • BINGO for Nintendo Switch
  • Blade II - The Return Of Evil
  • Bookbound Brigade
  • Bowling
  • Bubble
  • Cabela's: The Hunt - Championship Edition
  • Catan
  • Chapeau
  • Clue: The Classic Mystery Game
  • Color Zen Kids
  • Creepy Brawlers
  • Curious Cases
  • DAEMON X MACHINA: Prototype Missions
  • Darts
  • Dawn of the Breakers
  • Dead By Daylight
  • Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise
  • Deployment
  • Doggie Ninja The Golden Mission
  • Dungeon Stars
  • EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Nintendo Switch Legacy Edition
  • Escape First
  • Eternal Card Game
  • Fear of Traffic
  • FIFA 18
  • FIFA 19
  • Fledgling Heroes
  • Fortnite
  • Fractured Minds
  • Funimation
  • Gates Of Hell
  • Gato Roboto
  • Gems of War
  • Gigantosaurus The Game
  • Go Vacation
  • Golf
  • Guess the Word
  • Gurgamoth
  • HAUNTED: Halloween '86
  • Hidden
  • Hidden in Plain Sight
  • Hulu
  • Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
  • InkyPen
  • It's Spring Again
  • izneo
  • JUMANJI: The Video Game
  • Just Black Jack
  • Lanternium
  • Lightseekers
  • Little Shopping
  • MetaChampions
  • Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition
  • Miner Warfare
  • Miniature - The Story Puzzle
  • Modern Combat Blackout
  • NBA 2K Playgrounds 2
  • Neverlast
  • New Super Lucky's Tale
  • Nidhogg 2
  • Ninjala
  • No Time to Relax
  • North
  • Onigiri
  • Orbitblazers
  • Othello
  • Overwatch - Legendary Edition
  • Party Trivia
  • Pet Care
  • Pixel Devil and the Broken Cartridge
  • Pizza Parking
  • Pokémon Brilliant Diamond
  • Pokémon HOME
  • Pokémon Shield
  • Pokémon Shining Pearl
  • Pokémon Sword
  • Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
  • Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!
  • POOL
  • Ragtag Adventurers
  • Red Hot Ricochet
  • Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries
  • Robox
  • Royal Adviser
  • Santa Tracker
  • Sheep in Hell
  • Slam Land
  • Slot
  • Smash Rush
  • Speaking Simulator
  • Splatoon 2
  • Spot the Difference
  • Squidlit
  • Super Holobunnies: Pause Café
  • Taimumari: Complete Edition
  • Teddy Gangs
  • The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game
  • The Otterman Empire
  • The Raven Remastered
  • The Town of Light: Deluxe Edition
  • Theatre Tales
  • Theme Park Simulator
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
  • Trailer Trashers
  • Trials Rising Standard Edition
  • V.O.I.D.
  • Wanba Warriors
  • Warface
  • Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions
  • while True: learn()
  • World Soccer
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution
  • ZOMB

It should be noted that in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players can backup their island to a cloud server if their Switch gets lost. To transfer save data to another console, a separate Island Transfer Tool is available specifically for Animal Crossing. Players can use this to transfer their save data to a new console, like the Nintendo Switch OLED model.

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you enjoy playing old-school classic Nintendo games?

Switch Online NES Library

Switch Online NES Library (Image credit: Nintendo)

For those of you who don't have an original NES laying around and weren't able to get your hands on an NES Classic Edition (here are some great accessories to go with that if you did), then you can enjoy your old favorites through Nintendo Switch Online's Nintendo Entertainment System! It includes the following games:

  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Balloon Fight
  • Baseball
  • Blaster Master
  • City Connection
  • Clu Clu Land
  • Crystalis
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Double Dragon
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Eliminator Boat Duel
  • Excitebike
  • Fire 'n Ice
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Ice Hockey
  • The Immortal
  • Journey to Silius
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby's Adventure
  • Kung-Fu Heroes
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mario Bros.
  • Metroid
  • Mighty BombJack
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Nightshade
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Ninja JaJaMaru-kun
  • Pro Wrestling Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • River City Ransom
  • Rygar
  • S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team
  • Shadow of the Ninja
  • Soccer
  • Solomon's Key
  • Star Soldier
  • StarTropics
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Tennis
  • TwinBee
  • Vice: Project Doom
  • Volleyball
  • VS. Excitebike
  • Wario's Woods
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Yoshi
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Not only does Nintendo Switch Online allow you to play these classic NES games, but it even adds online multiplayer functionality to them so you can enjoy them with others. If that entices you, then a Nintendo Switch Online membership is definitely worth the money.

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you want to play SNES games?

Snes Classic Controller Yoshi

Snes Classic Controller Yoshi (Image credit: Nadine Dornieden / iMore)

Nintendo upped Nintendo Switch Online's nostalgia value last year when it began offering a collection of SNES games through the subscription service. These are all the SNES games members currently have access to:

  • Bombuzal
  • Brawl Brothers
  • Breath Of Fire
  • Breath of Fire II
  • Claymates
  • Demon's Crest
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
  • Doomsday Warrior
  • F-ZERO
  • The Ignition Factor
  • Jelly Boy
  • Joe and Mac
  • Joe and Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • Kirby's Dream Land 3
  • Kirby Super Star
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Magical Drop II
  • Mario's Super Picross
  • Natsume Championship Wrestling
  • Operation Logic Bomb
  • Panel de Pon
  • The Peace Keepers
  • Prehistorik Man
  • Pilotwings
  • Pop'n TwinBee
  • Psycho Dream
  • Smash Tennis
  • Spanky's Quest
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Stunt Race FX
  • Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
  • Super E.D.F Earth Defense Force
  • Super Ghouls'n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Super Puyo Puyo 2
  • Super Soccer
  • Super Tennis
  • Wild Guns

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you want to play N64 and Sega Genesis games?

Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack Nintendo 64 Sega Genesis Controllers

Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack Nintendo 64 Sega Genesis Controllers (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

In the September 2021 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced that an Expansion Pack would be coming to Nintendo Switch Online. This pack comes alongside a higher pricing tier and includes all the goodness of the base subscription, plus games from the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis. Here are the N64 games coming soon:

  • Super Mario 64
  • Mario Kart 64
  • StarFox 64
  • Yoshi's Story
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • WinBack Covert Operation
  • Mario Tennis
  • Dr. Mario 64
  • Paper Mario

N64 fans can also count on these games coming in the future:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  • F-Zero X
  • Mario Golf
  • Pokémon Snap
  • Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards
  • Banjo Kazooie

These Sega Genesis games are also included in the Expansion Pack:

  • Castlevania Bloodlines
  • Contra Hard Corps
  • Dr. Robtnik's Mean Bean Machine
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Golden Axe
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Musha
  • Phantasy Star IV
  • Ristar
  • Shining Force
  • Shinobi III
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Strider

Is Nintendo Switch Online worth it? — Do you want exclusive offers or games?

Nintendo Switch NES NSO with NES controllers

Nintendo Switch NES NSO with NES controllers (Image credit: iMore)

Nintendo does offer some limited-time promotions for in-game gear, exclusive product sales, and even free games as a special bonus for Nintendo Switch Online members. So far, they've given some download codes for in-game gear in Splatoon 2, had the exclusive Nintendo Entertainment System controller offer (works with the NES online games), and the free Tetris 99 and PAC-MAN 99 games.

There hasn't been a regular schedule for these offers, but it's a nice bonus for anyone who subscribes to the service. Think of it as the icing on the cake.

So is Nintendo Switch Online worth it?

For us, getting all of these features is definitely worth the monthly or annual fee. However, not everyone has the same budget, so it really depends on whether you're going to use everything Nintendo Switch Online has to offer.

If you can spare some money for Nintendo Switch Online, then it's definitely worth it. I mean, how else are you going to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.