Everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online services.

The Switch online service is changing. Here's what you need to know.
Luigi Horror Face

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription-based service that allows Nintendo Switch users to play games online, backup compatible game save files to the cloud, and access other Switch related benefits. The service is similar to Sony’s “PS Plus” and Microsoft’s “Xbox Live Gold” offerings.

Prior to September 18th 2018 (19th in Europe) Nintendo provided some elements of Nintendo Switch Online for free, such as online play, this was considered a “free trial” and will be a paid-for service going forwards.

The following are included in Nintendo Switch Online:

  • Online Play.
  • NES Games with added online play (20 at launch).
  • Save data cloud back-ups.
  • Voice Chat & Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app.
  • Member exclusive offers and bonuses.

When does Nintendo Switch Online start?

Nintendo Switch Online paid-for services are scheduled to begin on the 18th September 2018 in North America and on the 19th September 2018 in Europe.

In addition to the online service, Nintendo will be rolling out a firmware update for the Nintendo Switch (Ver. 6.0.0). This firmware update includes Nintendo Switch Online features and will be required to use the service.

Both the firmware update and Nintendo Switch Online service are expected to begin rolling at the following times:

  • 5pm PT – 18th Sept 2018
  • 8pm ET – 18th Sept 2018
  • 2am CEST – 19th Sept 2018
  • 1am BST – 19th Sept 2018

According to maintenance information, this is expected to last approximately 3 hours.

Nintendo Switch Online Individual and Family Membership

There are two types of Nintendo Switch Online membership

There are two ways to become a member of Nintendo Switch Online, as an individual or as part of a family group. An “Individual Membership” covers one person’s Nintendo Account using the service, whereas a “Family Membership” covers up to 8 different accounts.

Individual Membership

An individual membership grants access to Nintendo Switch Online services for a single Nintendo Account. This membership option is geared towards individuals who only require online access through a single account.

Individual memberships can be purchased as 1-month, 3-month, or 12-month subscriptions.

Family Membership

The family membership option allows up to 8 different Nintendo Accounts access to Nintendo Switch Online. All accounts must be part of a “family group” – it does not matter if they are used on a single Nintendo Switch or on multiple Nintendo Switch devices.

As the family membership utilises family groups, each account can be assigned a different role, with set permissions:

Role Age Permissions
Admin 13+ – Add accounts, remove accounts, and assign roles.

– Transfer the Admin role to another user.

– Alter Nintendo Account settings for users under 13.

There can only be 1 Admin account per group.

Parent / Guardian 18+ – Set the Supervised role on an account.

– Manage Supervised accounts via Parental Controls.

– Restrict eShop purchases on Supervised accounts.

– Leave the Family Group.

Supervised 0+ – No special permissions.
General (No role) 13+ – Leave the Family Group.

If the owner of an Admin account is 18+ years old then they will automatically be assigned the additional role of Parent / Guardian.

How to create a Family Group

A family group can be created by logging in to Nintendo’s online account management service and selecting the “Family group” option from the left menu. A option to add a member to the family group will be provided. Once someone is invited to a family group, they will receive an email with instructions on how to join.

A Nintendo Account can only be part of one Family Group, so you must leave your previous Family Group if you want to join another.

Nintendo eShop balances will still remain separate in a Family Group, so you cannot share money or My Nintendo Gold Points. However, if your account is assigned the Supervised role, then a Parent / Guardian can restrict your access to the Nintendo eShop.

Subscription Price Tom Nook

Payment and renewal of Nintendo Switch Online membership

Nintendo Switch Online is available in 1-month, 3-months, and 12-months subscriptions for Individual Membership, each of these are priced differently. The Family Membership is only available as a 12 month subscription and the price covers up to 8 accounts.

For individual users, the 12-month “Individual Membership” subscription offers the best price per month. If your child, partner, or other family member(s) also have an account or their own Switch, then the “Family Membership” will work out as the cheapest option.

Some regional/country specific prices are listed below:

Country / Region Membership Type 1 Month 3 Months 12 Months
North America Individual $3.99 $7.99 $19.99
Family $34.99
Europe Individual €3.99 €7.99 €19.99
Family €34.99
United Kingdom Individual £3.49 £6.99 £17.99
Family £31.49
Australia Individual $5.95 $11.95 $29.95
Family $54.95

How to purchase a Nintendo Switch Online Membership

Subscriptions can be purchased directly from the Nintendo eShop on your Nintendo Switch console (credit card, eShop balance, PayPal), through the official web-browser based Nintendo eShop, as a digital code from Amazon, or as physical cards (that contain a code) from select retailers.

My Nintendo Gold Points can also be used towards the cost of Nintendo Switch Online. This includes Gold Points received automatically from digital eShop purchases and by registering physical Game Cards.

Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions automatically renew!

It’s worth noting that subscriptions to Nintendo Switch Online are set to automatically renew once the paid-for period expires. This is also true of the 7-day free trial. So if you do not wish to continue your membership afterwards, then remember to select “Terminate Automatic Renewal” in Account Information > Pass Settings on the Nintendo eShop.

Time doesn’t carry over if you change membership types!

If you sign up for an Individual Membership and later decide to switch to a Family Membership, the time remaining on your Individual subscription will not carry over. So make sure you purchase the right membership type, otherwise you may lose out!

Nintendo characters playing Nintendo Switch Online

Some games don’t require a Nintendo Switch Online Membership to play online

Although Nintendo Switch Online is required to play most titles online, there are exceptions to this rule. Most free-to-play games (such as Fortnite) do not require a subscription according to their store pages and can still be played online.

Below are examples of games that include online and do not require a Nintendo Switch Online membership:

  • Fortnite
  • Arena of Valor
  • Paladins

Nintendo developed titles will require a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play online – this includes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, ARMS, and Mario Tennis Aces. Likewise, nearly all paid-for third-party games will also require a membership for online multiplayer.

NES Games included in Nintendo Switch Online

NES games are included with Nintendo Switch Online

One of the perks included in Nintendo Switch Online is a selection of “free” NES games with added online functionality. Nintendo Switch Online members will have access to 20 NES games at launch, with Nintendo promising to regularly add more in future.

The included NES games can be accessed through a downloadable Switch software app called “Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online”. The software (at the time of writing) has a file size of 58.72 MB, so shouldn’t take up much storage space at all.

An active membership is required to be able to play the included games and the NES software requires a “periodic online check-in”. Members will be required to check-in (achieved by simply connecting online) every 7 days to continue playing NES games.

At launch, Nintendo Switch Online will offer the following NES games:

NES Games included at launch:
Balloon Fight Baseball Donkey Kong
Double Dragon Dr. Mario Excitebike
Ghosts’n Goblins Gradius Ice Climber
Ice Hockey The Legend of Zelda Mario Bros.
Pro Wrestling River City Ransom Soccer
Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros. 3 Tecmo Bowl
Tennis Yoshi

A recent video released by Nintendo revealed that the following NES titles are currently planned for future release:

Selection of known future NES games:
NES Open Tournament Golf Solomon’s Key Super Dodge Ball
Mighty Bomb Jack Metroid

Cloud Saves Backup Nintendo Switch

Save Data Cloud: Cloud-based backups for save data

Nintendo Switch Online provides cloud-based backups for Nintendo Switch game save data. Members will be able to store copies of their game save files on Nintendo’s server, so if their Switch console ever breaks, they won’t lose their progress.

Save data is backed up automatically for members as soon as the Nintendo Switch is connected to the internet – including when the console is in sleep mode. Although automatic backups are the default setting, this can be adjusted.

Backups are tied to the user’s Nintendo Account and can be downloaded onto a different Nintendo Switch by signing in. Only one save file per game (per member) can be uploaded to the backup cloud server.

Unfortunately, not all Nintendo Switch games are compatible with the new backup service. The most notable titles that don’t support “Save Data Cloud” are:

  • Splatoon 2
  • Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu / Eevee!
  • Dark Souls: Remastered

Cloud backups will only be retained for the length of your Nintendo Switch Online subscription, so if it expires then your online backups may be erased.

Nintendo Switch Voice Chat and App

Voice Chat & Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app

Nintendo Switch Online members will have access to the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. This is currently the only official way to take part in Voice Chat for online Nintendo Switch games.

Using the smartphone app members will be able to voice chat with their friends in the following games:

  • ARMS
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • Splatoon 2
  • NES games (Nintendo Switch Online)

Certain games, such as Splatoon 2, will also have “enhanced features” in the app. Splatoon 2’s “SplatNet2” features online player stats, upcoming stage schedules, social features and the ability to order in-game gear.

Nintendo Switch Online exclusive offers NES Controller

Member exclusive offers and bonuses

Another perk that Nintendo are providing with their online subscription is member-exclusive offers and bonuses. Nintendo Switch Online subscribers have access to special promotions that other users do not. These can range from physical products to digital download codes – their availability can depend on the subscription length and membership type.

Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers
The first physical product that will be available as a member-exclusive offer is a set of Switch compatible NES controllers. Available for $59.99, the two controllers connect wirelessly to the Nintendo Switch, charge via the console’s Joy-Con rails, and are compatible with Nintendo Switch Online NES games.

NES controllers are available to members on any length of subscription, but cannot be purchased during the 7-day free trial period. If you are part of a Family Membership, then you should also be aware that only one set of NES controllers can be purchased per family group.

Exclusive Splatoon 2 in-game items
Nintendo Switch Online members will also be sent a free download code for exclusive Splatoon 2 in-game gear. In order to qualify, the subscription length taken out needs to be for 12 months. Nintendo has stated that the download codes will be distributed in early October 2018 and applies to both Individual and Family Memberships.

Subscribers of the Family Membership will receive one download code per account in the family group. That means that each family member (up to 8 accounts) will be able to redeem their own code. In situations where the Admin role is associated with a child, the download codes will be sent to a parent / guardian.