Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo's upcoming subscription-based service launching on Sept. 18 that offers four major features that non-subscribers won't have access to. Depending on what you do with your Switch, it's either going to be the best $20 per year (or $40 per year for a family plan) you'll spend or not worth a dime.

Do you play online multiplayer games?

Probably the most important feature of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service is online access. Right now, you're able to take advantage of this feature for free to play against other people around the globe in games like Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2. However, once Nintendo Switch Online officially launches, you won't be able to play games online without a subscription.

So if you're a multiplayer online gamer, the answer is clear. You'll want to put your money where your mouth is if you want to stay on top of the global leaderboards.

Do you play games that allow you to chat with others?

If you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, you'll get complete access to the companion app, also called Nintendo Switch Online. Currently, Splatoon 2 is the only game supported in the app, but it's designed to be a special app dedicated to helping you connect with other players so you can schedule game sessions, get exclusive gear, and chat in real-time while you play.

Of course, if you already use a different chat service like Discord, there are fewer reasons to use the Nintendo Switch Online app.

That said, if you're using a chat service to play games with friends, you're probably playing online, which means you do want to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online.

Do you have games with hours (even days) of save data?

Without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, there is no legitimate way to back up your game save data off of the Switch. That means all those hours and hours spent wandering the hills of Hyrule with Link or the many kingdoms that Mario explores in search of Princess Peach could be lost for all eternity if something should happen to the hardware or software of your Nintendo Switch.

I'm sure you've heard about firmware v 5.0 triggering third-party docks to send Switches into a boot loop, essentially bricking the device. It's a shame Nintendo didn't offer game save data backups before.

With a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you'll be able to back up your game save data in the cloud, which means it's protected if something should happen to your Switch.

Keep in mind that the following games will not support cloud saves:

  • Splatoon 2
  • Pokemon Let's Go! Pikachu
  • Pokemon Let's Go! Eevee
  • FIFA 19
  • Dead Cells
  • Dark Souls: Remastered

Do you like classic Nintendo games?

Another major feature of Nintendo Switch Online is access to Nintendo's classic games selection. So far we know that the service will launch with 20 classic Nintendo titles including Super Mario Bros 1 and 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong. So far they have only announced 10 titles but for $20 per year (or about $1.67 per month) it seems as if we will be getting access to some top-tier classic Nintendo titles.

Note: If you cancel your Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you won't get to keep the games. They're tied to your active subscription.

If you are excited about being able to play classic Nintendo games that'll probably be exclusive to subscribers, then you're going to want to join Nintendo Switch Online.

Do you sometimes buy games just because they're on sale?

Right now in the Nintendo Switch eShop, there's a section dedicated to games on sale. It's updated regularly (about once per week) with new games, some of which have deep discounts of 50, 60, even 75 percent off. There isn't any specific information that says this section will eventually be exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, but the way Nintendo words it, it probably will be.

I've gotten some great games at a really low price ($10 games as low as $2.50) by checking the Games on Sale section. Nintendo doesn't only offer second or third-tier titles, either. Doom was recently on sale for 30 percent off, for example.

If you're a fan of sales and like buying games just because they're on sale, a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online will pay for itself over the year.

Do you have a bunch of friends or family that also play Switch?

One great option for the Nintendo Online Service is the family plan. With the family plan, you and seven of your friends and family can save a few bucks. The family plan only costs $40 a year. With eight members on a family plan, that means that each member would only have to pay $5 a year. Those are some pretty amazing savings.

If already have your family lined up, you can head over to the website and get all the members entered into the group so you are all ready to go when the online service starts.

Is it worth it?

Of course, everyone has different financial situations and gaming needs, so I can't make a blanket recommendation across the board.

I can, however, say that $20 per year for an individual plan or $40 per year for a family plan is a very small price to pay for unlimited online gaming, access to classic Nintendo titles at no extra cost, and deeply discounted games that change almost weekly.

If you have an extra $20- $40 (or can save up that much by September), please think about subscribing. I personally think it's totally worth it.

If you're not sure you want to invest in an entire year's subscription, you can always subscribe to an individual plan for one month for $3.99 or three months for $7.99 (the family plan is only available with a 12-month subscription). As you can tell, though. The $20, 12-month subscription is the best deal.

Finally, if you're still on the fence after all that, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial of the service at launch to see if it's right for you.

If you are interested in the Nintendo Switch Online service, you'll need to sign up for it to play games online when it launches on Sept. 18.

Updated September 2018: Updated to include games that do not support cloud saves, service release date

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