Nintendo Switch Online: What It Is and How to Play

The popular handheld gaming device is fully online. It's time to play!

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Nintendo has some of the best video games out there, but its online service to connect players has always been lacking. The good news is that’s changing with the release of the Nintendo Switch Online service. The bad news is your free ride is coming to an end.

Here’s the low-down on everything you need to know to keep those competitive races going and have everything saved in the cloud.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo’s aptly named service for its Switch gaming console, which enables internet features. It’s comparable to Microsoft’s Xbox Live service or Sony’s PlayStation Network.

Nintendo's online service isn't required by default to use the Switch; only if you want to play games online and against other people, or if you want access to its other advertised benefits.

What Features are Included with Nintendo Switch Online?

There are a decent amount of benefits that come with paying for Nintendo Switch Online:

  • Online play: This includes internet multiplayer for games like Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario Kart, Mario Tennis Aces, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Classic Nintendo games: The Nintendo Entertainment System on Switch allows access to classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros, Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and more. It launched with 20 games available to play and new games will be added regularly.
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  • Online saved data: Save your game data to the cloud. It’s backed up in case you lose or break your Switch and can be restored to a new one in the future.
  • Enhanced phone app: Nintendo’s enhanced mobile app will allow you to voice chat while playing games online – something that wasn’t possible previously. 
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In addition to these tentpole features, the company is offering special, ongoing promotions which will be only available to paying subscribers. The first example of this was access to buy classic wireless NES game controllers.

How Much Does Nintendo's Online Service Cost?

Up until September 2018, basic online play for the few games that supported it was free. After the debut of Switch Online, that functionality requires a paid subscription. The good news is it's competitively priced when compared to both Microsoft and Sony's online services.

Individual plan rates:

  • 1 Month: $3.99
  • 3 Months: $7.99
  • 12 Months: $19.99

Family plan rate:

  • 12 Months: $34.99

Nintendo offers a 7-day free trial if you'd like to ensure this is right for you.

How to Sign Up for Nintendo Switch Online

If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can sign up for any of the mentioned plans directly on the Switch’s eShop, where digital games are purchased.

You'll buy credits through the eShop, which will be in the amount needed for whichever plan you select. You can use a credit card, PayPal, or eShop gift card.

Besides purchasing credits directly through Nintendo's eShop, you can also buy gift cards on Amazon, Best Buy, and Target.