Nintendo Switch Online

When the Nintendo Switch was officially unveiled in January 2017, Nintendo announced they were working on a paid online service for their new machine. Fast forward 18 months and the new service, Nintendo Switch Online has arrived. This is the first time in Nintendo’s history that it has charged for online service.

Let’s take a look at what Nintendo Switch Online is, how much it costs, benefits and features, and if the new online service is worth the cost.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Since the Nintendo Switch launched in March 2017, you could play games that featured online multiplayer gameplay for free. However, on September 18th, 2018 Nintendo launched it’s first paid online subscription service—Nintendo Switch Online. Now, with a subscription, you enjoy all the online fun in your favourite games such as Mario Tennis Aces, Splatoon 2, Rocket League, DOOM, Minecraft, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and ARMS—just to name a few.

It’s worth while to mention that Free to Play games such as Fornite, don’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play.

Nintendo Switch Online

How much does it cost and what features does it offer?

A 12-month subscription to Nintendo Switch Online costs $24.99. While a 3-month subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is only $9.99. When you look at the price, it is about half the cost of both Microsoft’s and Sony’s paid online subscription services.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the features that come with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

Cloud saves

One of the biggest features that Nintendo’s new online service offers are Save Data Cloud backups. What this means is that a copy of your save game is backed up into the cloud in case your saved game happens to get deleted locally on your Switch console or you start playing on a new machine. It’s important to know that not all games are compatible with this feature.

For example, Splatoon 2 does not support cloud saves. The reason behind this is strictly related to online multiplayer play and multiplayer rankings. Additionally, your saved games in the cloud will be available for 6 months after your subscription ends or if there is a lapse in service.

Nintendo Switch Online

A collection of classic NES games with added online play

When the service last month, subscribers had instant access to 20 NES games with online play such as Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, Double Dragon, and Ice Hockey.

In order to access these games, you simply download the Nintendo Entertainment System app from the Nintendo eShop. Once downloaded, start the app and within seconds you are presented with your choice of NES games to play. One of the first games I wanted to play and test out the online play was Ice Hockey.

Nintendo Switch Online

You can either start a game and wait for your friend to join, or see what games your friends are playing and join in. There are no lobbies that you can join looking for others to play with. It’s a direct network connection with people already on your Nintendo Switch friends list. The first game didn’t go so well, it was filled with lots of lag and delay.

I later discovered that the person I was playing against bandwidth wasn’t so great and they were streaming video on their computer at the same time. Once we remedied that issue, all the problems went away. Needless to say, I still got my butt handed to me with Team Canada loosing to Russia 7-5.

Nintendo Switch Online

New NES games added each month

New NES games are added each month to the service. Currently Nintendo has announced Solomon’s Key, NES Open Tournament Gold, and Super Dodge Ball for October. Metroid, Might Bomb Jack and TwinBee for October.

Finally, Wario’s Woods, Ninja Gaiden, and Adventures of Lolo in December. As you can see, Nintendo is committed to offers a great line up of games to keep gamers happy.

Chat with your friends using the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app

The Nintendo Switch Online service allows you to chat with your friends using a smartphone app. You must download it on your iOS or Android phone and sign in with your Nintendo Switch Online account. Currently Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, ARMS, and the classic NES collection of games support it.

While it works well, it’s a bit cumbersome to use with friends. Interestingly enough, Fornite on the Switch supports online chat without the use of the app. So it appears that Nintendo is implementing the usage of the app to help protect younger players from foul language online.

Nintendo Switch Online

Special offers to Nintendo Switch Online members

Finally, with a subscription to the Nintendo Switch Online service you get exclusive offers. Currently, Nintendo is offering pre-orders on a pair of NES controllers. These exact replicas allow you to play the classic NES games the way they were meant to. Better yet, they feature a rechargeable battery!

These NES controllers will ship in mid-December and to my knowledge have not been announced for retail release. Moreover, if you have a 12-month Nintendo Switch Online subscription, Nintendo are sending out download codes for exclusive Splatoon 2 gear for your character.

Nintendo Switch Online

Is Nintendo Switch Online service worth the cost?

While Nintendo’s new Nintendo Switch Online service isn’t perfect, it’s well worth the yearly subscription fee. When you break it down, it costs approximately $2.08 a month when you buy a 12-month subscription. Just being able to play the classic collection of NES games online, cloud saves and multiplayer fun with friends is worth what I usually spend on a cup of coffee a day.

I feel that this is the beginning of what is going to turn out to be a fantastic online service with additional features added over time in the future. Let me know in the comments section below if you have subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online and what your favourite classic NES game on the service is.

Get Nintendo Switch Online 12-Month Membership – Digital Download
Get Nintendo Switch Online 3-Month Membership – Digital Download

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Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.


  1. Aside from the latency issues I’ve enjoyed my time so far with the NES games. Also, if you create a Japanese account on your Switch you can download the Famicom version of the online games for free and play them using your primary online account.

    • Hi Ian. You certainly were a formidable opponent in Ice Hockey! Thanks for the tip on playing Japanese games. Did you see the new batch of NES games that came out today?

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