Feature Article

Nintendo Switch Online Guide: Pricing, Animal Crossing Multiplayer, Free Games, And More

Nintendo Switch Online is a relatively cheap service that comes with cool perks.

With the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo finally decided to join Microsoft and Sony in charging for online play. Like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Switch Online is the only way to play many of the Switch's biggest online games, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Overwatch, Splatoon 2, and more.

Those playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons will probably want to sign up for Nintendo Switch Online to experience the game's multiplayer aspects, and you also need the subscription to use Animal Crossing: New Horizons' NookLink service, which is part of the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app. With Switch Online, you can use the app to scan QR codes of custom patterns made in past Animal Crossing games to bring them into New Horizons. You can also voice and text chat with other players.

While it's a bummer to pay for something you used to get for nothing, the service does have its perks, the biggest of which is a growing library of classic NES and SNES games, available just subscribing. Here's an overview of what you need to know before subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online, including its pricing and perks.

Pricing

First, some good news: Nintendo Switch Online costs significantly less than the competition. Nintendo only charges $20. You can pick up a three-month or one-year individual subscription at Amazon or sign up directly at Nintendo, making it significantly cheaper than Sony and Microsoft's services, which cost $60 a year. Here's the breakdown of pricing for a single account holder:

  • One month -- $4
  • Three months -- $8
  • One year -- $20

If you have multiple people in your house who want their own accounts, you'll need to spring for the family plan. It costs $35 per year and allows up to eight people to play online, which is actually a pretty good deal even if you just want to turn a bunch of your friends into a family (we won't tell).

With that out of the way, let's take a look at all the perks that come with the service.

No Caption Provided

Online Play

Without Nintendo Switch Online, you can't play games like Mario Tennis Aces, Splatoon 2, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online without a subscription. The same goes for third-party games like Diablo 3: The Eternal Collection.

If you look at the Eshop page for online first-party games like Mario Tennis Aces, you'll see a disclaimer warning that online play will require a subscription. Some free games, like Fortnite, don't have the disclaimer and can be played online for free.

Nintendo Switch Online App

Some games, like Fortnite, have voice chat built-in. Unfortunately, many games--including Nintendo's first-party titles--don't. And while voice chat is a standard built-in feature for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, that's not the case with Nintendo Switch Online.

This feature is already in place, but to talk with other players while playing online, you need to download the Nintendo Switch Online app (you can grab it here: iOS, Android). Yes, you'll need two separate devices to play and talk to people online. Otherwise, it might be better to link up with your friends via a third-party service like Discord.

Save Data Cloud Backup

If you lose your Nintendo Switch and buy a new one, all of your save data goes with it. But with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, most of your save data is backed up on Nintendo's servers.

Unfortunately, it's not all sunshine and cool breezes when it comes to Nintendo's cloud saves. Some games don't support online save data, and if you let your subscription lapse, you could lose your saves.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Access to Classic NES Games

PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscribers get free games each month they can download and play on their respective systems. Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will get a similar benefit, but with much older games.

Switch Online subscribers have access to a selection of 50 classic NES titles at this point, and new games are added every once in a while. The games also have added online play, so you won't need your second player to be in the same room with you. You can check out the full lineup thus far below.

  • Metroid
  • Mighty Bomb Jack
  • TwinBee
  • 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
  • Solomon's Key
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Wario's Woods
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • ADVENTURES OF LOLO
  • Blaster Master
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • Super Mario Bros 2
  • Kirby's Adventure
  • Kid Icarus
  • StarTropics
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • Star Soldier
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • VS. Excitebike
  • Clu Clu Land
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Volleyball
  • City Connection
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Kung-Fu Heroes
  • Vice: Project Doom
  • JOURNEY TO SILIUS
  • Crystalis
  • Shadow of the Ninja (Coming soon)
  • Eliminator Boat Duel (Coming Soon)
No Caption Provided

Switch Online also allows you to purchase the Switch-compatible NES controllers seen above so you can play the classic NES games how they were originally intended. The pack costs $60, and the limit is one per Nintendo account. They're fairly limited, however, and are only for sale occasionally.

Access to Classic Super NES Games

In September 2019, Nintendo revealed SNES titles would also be available to Switch Online subscribers. The current list includes 24 classic SNES games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Breath of Fire, and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. As with the NES titles, local and online multiplayer is enabled for these SNES titles, and they'll also include the Rewind feature that lets you dial back a few seconds in-game to undo a mistake. See the full list of SNES games available now on Switch below:

  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
  • Super Mario Kart
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Super Metroid
  • Star Fox
  • F-ZERO
  • Stunt Race FX
  • Pilotwings
  • Kirby's Dream Land 3
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • Super Ghouls'n Ghosts
  • Demon's Crest
  • Super Soccer
  • Super Puyo Puyo 2
  • Breath Of Fire
  • BRAWL BROTHERS
  • SUPER E.D.F. EARTH DEFENSE FORCE
  • Super Tennis
  • Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  • Star Fox 2
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Breath of Fire II
  • Pop'n TwinBee (Coming soon)
  • Smash Tennis (Coming soon)

No Caption Provided

Unsurprisingly, Nintendo also offers an official SNES controller that's compatible with Nintendo Switch and exclusive to Switch Online members. As the pack includes one controller rather than two, it costs $30, half the price of the NES controller bundle, and there's a limit of four purchases per Nintendo Account. And like the NES controllers, these controllers aren't always around, so you'll have to check back to see if they're up for grabs.

Special Offers

Nintendo also offers exclusive special deals and offers to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. Those offers include a download code for exclusive Splatoon 2 in-game gear (12-month memberships only), the classic NES and SNES controllers detailed above, and access to the free-to-download battle royale game Tetris 99. Nintendo previously offered a voucher deal where you could buy a pair of game vouchers for $100 and redeem them for two games, potentially saving yourself $20 if you stick to full-price ($60) titles. You can't sign up for that deal anymore, but already-purchased vouchers can still be redeemed up to a year afterward.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Back To Top
38 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

4287

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 43

User Lists: 0

They're going to troll people in Excitebike so hard by crashing on them. I hope they add SNES classics in that library eventually. Some SNES games are just so good to not still play them today.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

2454

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 139

User Lists: 0

seem a little better than sony and microsoft is offering.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for BigJerm1
BigJerm1

929

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@nintendians: Outside of the price, what exactly is better? The free games are ancient and many people have previously purchased them as part of the NES Classic or individually through the Wii, Wii U, or 3DS virtual consoles. Requiring people to use their phone to facilitate voice chat is laughable in 2018.

I'm not saying the service is bad, and the price is certainly reasonable, but you get what you pay for.

2 • 
Avatar image for cantor2537
cantor2537

402

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By cantor2537

@BigJerm1: NES games are now portable (I get that you could access these games on 3ds but not online play). 20 bucks to access all that on the go is not unreasonable. If they throw in SNES and N64 games that would be a great deal.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Sevenizz
Sevenizz

4739

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By Sevenizz

@cantor2537: Some of those games have been portable for years. GB, GBA, e-reader, DS, etc. I get that online play is cool - but let’s not act like Nintendo has reinvented the wheel here.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for BigJerm1
BigJerm1

929

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By BigJerm1

@cantor2537: IF they start to include a much larger selection of games from other Nintendo platforms, then I'd certainly agree with you and see more value in the service. At the moment, however, I don't believe there's been any announcements that suggest that's coming. As it stands, the selection of NES games that I already own in one or more of the forms isn't very appealing. I hope they add to it in the future.

2 • 
Avatar image for darkelf83
darkelf83

994

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 14

User Lists: 0

@BigJerm1: They already plan to add 3 a month. If they keep that up and work on transitioning to SNES, N64, and then GC the library offering in a year or three could be pretty good. As long as the price stays low and they (un-Nintendo like) plan for the future, they could build a solid base.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

2454

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 139

User Lists: 0

@BigJerm1: talking about paying to play online for the "switch" vs. paying to play online on the ps4 and xbox 360/one combine.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for BigJerm1
BigJerm1

929

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@nintendians: Being able to use integrated voice chat with a wireless headset and without tying up my phone is easily worth the additional cost of PSN and Xbox Live, in my opinion. Then add in the sheer number of games that I play online with Xbox and PlayStation versus the miniscule number I play on Switch (literally 1, being Mario Kart 8), and the difference is even more pronounced.

Again, I'm not saying 20 bucks is much to pay, or that Switch Online doesn't have something to offer. I just strongly disagree that it does anything better than the competition.

3 • 
Avatar image for nintendians
nintendians

2454

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 139

User Lists: 0

Edited By nintendians

@BigJerm1: i agreed what you said, until then nintendo needs to step up on all their process, if they want next gen. upgrades for everything that the others can do.

the "switch" is next gen. already but doesn't have the gpu and cpu power to play very high graphic intense game.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for martinsbbb
martinsbbb

1

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By martinsbbb

Haven't registered for Online yet, however I don't think that $20/y is something outrageous to ask. Moreover, I personally feel that lack of voice chat is an advantage rather than an issue because most of the time it's pretty annoying to listen to random mumbling of people on XBL or PSN. 99% of the time Nintendo is about casual gaming, except some pro cases (Smash Bros, Pokken, Mario Kart, anything else?).

I personally will support Nintendo in this because I like games that still look like games, not an interactive movie, and decent online service is something that they lack and they will build it eventually, having enough people being interested.

2 • 
Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

4287

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 43

User Lists: 0

@martinsbbb: no voice chat? Not having to learn or search how to mute people in each game. Great.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

15316

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Taking away features, gating things other consoles have standard....what a worthless service.

2 • 
Avatar image for Sp0ilzbury
Sp0ilzbury

37

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Cancelled ps+ for switch online. Saves me $30.

2 • 
Avatar image for angrycreep
angrycreep

1617

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@Sp0ilzbury: It saves you $40 not 30

2 • 
Avatar image for TazX14
TazX14

34

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

There are tons of people complaining and for some reason the major gaming news outlets haven't seemed to pick it up yet... quite strange really...

Honestly though, here are my reasons for not subscribing to this ridiculous service:

Only one account is able to go online on a single switch unless you purchase the family plan (making it "just" $35 for most families... $25 bucks less than what Live/Psn+ charge)

Laggy online... even the NES games: https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/9h1ayw/warning_nintendo_switch_online_games_have_really/

Screen burn ins: https://www.resetera.com/threads/nes-games-causing-burn-in-on-the-switch-and-external-screens.69390/

7 day check ins: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-09-14-nintendo-requires-weekly-online-check-in-to-play-nes-games

No discounts (or probably very few as I doubt Nintendo will do any big sales as they always keep their games at full price)

No full games

Voice chat done through a phone app (for which there are numerous better FREE services)

Access to buy other peripherals that only work with the service (i.e. once your subscription is up they become absolutely useless)

No way to back up our saves externally forcing us to...

Finally get to use cloud saves but if your subscription runs out they'll delete them: https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/277089-nintendo-deletes-switch-cloud-saves-if-your-subscription-lapses

Content still locked behind Amiibos

A "Nintendo" tax for everything including multiplatform releases being $10 more than other systems, and "pro" controllers being more expensive than other systems'...

4 • 
Avatar image for atherworld
atherworld

285

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I await the day Nintendo realizes we do NOT want to buy & play the same NES games over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Or as Nintendo likes to say, Look. Our customers only want two things in life. 1) Small discounts on game through My Nintendo, and 2) the ability to buy and play the same NES games over and over again.

5 • 
Avatar image for brettsiebenhaar
BrettSiebenhaar

144

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 5

Seriously people. It's only $20 a year. Not $60 like others. I don't see the outrage, just because they never charged before? I am 100% ok with the online subscription and price!

2 • 
Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

15316

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@brettsiebenhaar: It's not worth $2 a year. That's why people hate it.

3 • 
Avatar image for inkman66
inkman66

599

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Haven't seen this much bitching since the launch of the Switch when everyone said Nintendo would be out of the hardware business within two years because the Switch would flop HUGE. How'd that work out?

2 • 
Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

4089

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

@inkman66: it's because it doesn't offer anything except 20 ancient games. No voice chat. No dedicated servers. Obtuse social functioning. All the actual functions require an app on your phone. That's right, Nintendo is so backwards they require a telephone to voice chat.

This is a scam, and Nintendo should be ashamed. Least trustworthy name in gaming--I've been saying it for years.

6 • 
Avatar image for oKiRe
oKiRe

472

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 8

User Lists: 0

Won't be getting this.

6 • 
Avatar image for Cashmoney007
Cashmoney007

287

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By Cashmoney007

Nintendo, why do you do these dumb things? You can take your useless phone app and shove it. I will just use Discord. Lol

9 • 
Avatar image for ich
Ich

2

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By Ich

The game play for Splatoon has been great but Nintendo has done everything it can to screw it up. Many people, myself included, cannot get their phone app to log on to the players account. Seriously, you have to use your own phone to chat in game. The annual fee is per account not per machine. No cloud saves for Splatoon 2, even though it is a first party game. It isn’t as though Splatoon is cheaper than any other Switch game but there really isn’t any viable offline portion of the game. When my PS+ lapsed I was still able to play the Division sans the dark zone (PvP). At least with Mario Kart, Arms and other multiplayer I can play locally on split screen.

2 • 
Avatar image for TheLoCoRaven
TheLoCoRaven

152

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Guess it's time to go back to playing Rocket League on my PS4. Preferred playing it on my Switch but it's pretty much all I play online on the Switch.

6 • 
Avatar image for Kesmai
Kesmai

129

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Won’t subscribe until Smash Bros Ultimate releases and the online better be good for it compared to Wii and 3DS/Wii U when charging money this time around.

3 • 
Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

4089

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

Edited By Ohaidere

Now get your 90s quality online for $20 a year.

What a scam.

11 • 
Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

2685

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 306

User Lists: 7

@Ohaidere: Paying for any online multiplayer is a scam, but at least with Nintendo it's $45 cheaper than with Sony and Microsoft ($25 vs $70).

The fact that people are willing to give Sony and Microsoft $70 a year just to use their own internet connection is very sad, especially considering that most multiplayer PS4/Xbox games can be played online on PC for free.

I honestly can't blame Nintendo for wanting a piece of this stupidity pie.

2 • 
Avatar image for atherworld
atherworld

285

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Tiwill44: Don't forget. Sony & Microsoft give you new games every month. Nintendo gives you the same NES games yet again. Cheaper for Nintendo isn't better, and certainly not even equal.

And yes, you can blame Nintendo for wanting a piece of the stupidity pie. They tried it through the price pie for both Wii U and 3DS, and quickly learned consumers will not play Sony/Microsoft prices for Nintendo. Makes no sense to try for a third blunder.

5 • 
Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

2685

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 306

User Lists: 7

Edited By Tiwill44

@atherworld: Do you not buy the games you're interested in as they come out? Because if you did, then the "free" games Sony/MS give out would pretty much be worthless to you, since you'd own the ones you like already.

There is no value in receiving an old game that you were not interested in buying even on sale.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

4089

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

@Tiwill44: the whole thing is ridiculous, but Nintendo's is particularly bad despite being cheaper, as it doesn't even have basic functionality.

It's a straight up scam that they barely camouflaged with a cheap price.

5 • 
Avatar image for Tiwill44
Tiwill44

2685

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 306

User Lists: 7

Edited By Tiwill44

@Ohaidere: Like voice chat and messaging? I mean... sure, yeah. But is that really worth the extra 40-45 bucks? I guess it might be to some people, but to me the most valuable thing they're gating behind these subscriptions is, ironically, the thing that should be free... online multiplayer.

So like, regardless of the lack of functionalities, I'm going to have to pay for this if I want to keep playing Aces and soon Smash and whatever is coming... and $25 is easier to swallow than $70 (not that I could play these on other platforms but you get the point).

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Ohaidere
Ohaidere

4089

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

@Tiwill44: I'm in the same boat, as I play MHGU with my brother. If it weren't for that I'd skip out on this scam, but it is what it is--which is what they're counting on,which in turn is frustrating because they know they can force you to pay this handout without actually providing a real service for it. It's despicable, and again, they should be straight up ashamed.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Mackey18
Mackey18

359

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Outrageous that it costs the same in £ as it does in $...

6 • 
Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

1701

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 20

User Lists: 0

Do what Xbox does and add more and more NES and SNES titles for free and they might be onto something... partially there with the price point.

9 •