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Everything You Need to Know About Nintendo Switch Online Before It Drops September 18th

Next week, Nintendo’s long-awaited online service goes live. If you play games online, want to play retro Nintendo games, or just want to sync your gama data, here’s everything you’ll need to know.

We’ve been getting a steady drip of information about Nintendo’s upcoming online service for a while, but Nintendo has finally announced and confirmed all the details. The new service will go live on Tuesday, September 18th. Here’s everything else you need to know.

What Do You Get With Nintendo Switch Online?

Glad you asked. First and foremost, Nintendo Switch Online is the service that you’ll have to pay for to play games online. Like Xbox Live or PS Plus, if you want to play online multiplayer, you’ll have to sign up for it. This includes games that currently offer online multiplayer for free, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2.

However, Nintendo isn’t just ransoming back the free multiplayer you’re used to with its new service. You’ll also get access to the coveted cloud data backup feature. This will let you back up your game saves to the cloud. If you ever need to replace your Switch, you can import all of your data to the new console easily.

You’ll also get access to a collection of classic NES games for free, including the following:

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

Nintendo will also keep adding more games as time goes on. The next couple months of releases are already lined up, with Solomon’s Key, NES Open Tournament Golf, and Super Dodge Ball coming in October, Metroid, Mighty Bomb Jack, and TwinBee in November, and Wario’s Woods, Ninja Gaiden, and Adventures of Lolo in December.

For multiplayer games, you can split a Joy-Con in half to play with a friend. If you really want to get nostalgic, Nintendo is also selling NES-style Joy-Con controllers for $60. These look and feel like the classic controller, but can attach to the side of your Switch, just like a Joy-Con. The button layout doesn’t exactly work for regular Switch games, but you can play any NES game with that sweet nostalgic feel just fine. These controllers will only be available for Switch Online subscribers, so if you want them, you’ll need to sign up.

Finally, the subscription will give you access to the Switch Online app. The Switch doesn’t exactly have the most powerful processor, so to give online gamers basic services like voice chat, Nintendo is offloading the job to your phone. You can invite other players to play together, start voice chats, and send messages. It also can add extra, second-screen features to games but so far only Splatoon 2 has made use of this, offering some basic in-game stats on your phone.

How Much Will It Cost?

The good, better, best news about Nintendo Switch Online is its price. While other online services like Xbox Live Gold and PS Plus cost as high as $180 a year if you pay by the month—or as low as $40 a year if you meticulously hunt for deals—Nintendo is reaching a new low in a good way. You can get a year of the new service for $20. Here’s how the price plan breaks down:

  • $3.99 if you pay by the month, or about $48 a year.
  • $7.99 if you pay quarterly, or about $32 a year.
  • $19.99 if you pay yearly.
  • $34.99 if you pay yearly for a Family Plan. Family groups can include up to eight accounts.

You don’t get as much with Nintendo’s service as you might get on other platforms, but you also pay a lot less for it. $20 a year for a steady stream of classic NES games might be enough on its own to convince some people to sign up. And if you only want to sign up so you can keep playing games online, it’s not too heavy of a cost.

How Does My Nintendo Account Factor Into This?

By the way, these exist. Enjoy the nostalgia trigger.

Smart of you to ask. So, here’s the deal. Every time Nintendo coughs, they tend to accidentally create a new online account system. While you won’t get a new account this time, you’ll need to link your existing Nintendo Account to your profile on your Switch. You probably already did this when you set up your Switch, but after September 18th, that link will become permanent.

If you’ve only used your own account on your own Switch, this probably won’t affect you. If you’ve ever shared accounts or profiles, you’ll need to dive into the Settings on your Switch and make sure that your Nintendo Account is linked to your Switch profile and your family’s accounts are linked with their own profiles. You can check out our guide here on how to link accounts properly.

After the link, your account will be used to store your eShop purchases, cloud data saves, and any sync data between devices. Nintendo was already pushing the Nintendo Account as the centerpiece of your console life, but now it will be tied directly to your console.

Once September 18th rolls around, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial if you’re on the fence. Or if you just want to get a week’s worth of the service for free, because why not. You can pre-order the service right now but we’re really not sure why you would.

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read Full Bio »