Guide to Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch’s long-awaited (or dreaded) online service has finally been rolled out. The service can be yours for $3.99 per month, $7.99 for 3 months, or $19.99 per year. So what exactly are you getting for your money?

Online Matchmaking

As of September 18, being able to play games online with friends and strangers is no longer free. You will need to purchase a Nintendo Switch Online subscription in order to continue playing games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Tennis Aces, and Rocket League online. Many more games with a focus on online multiplayer are coming to the Switch later this year, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Party. However, there are some games that don’t require a paid subscription to play online, most notably Fortnite: Battle Royale.

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Cloud Save Backups

Online cloud save game backups finally come to the Nintendo Switch with their online service. If you don’t know what cloud save backups are, basically, you can upload your saved game to an online server. That way if your Switch gets lost or broken you can access your saved files on a new device. With cloud save backups, every moon you find in Super Mario Odyssey or Korok seed in Breath of the Wild will be preserved, no matter what happens to your Switch.

Not all games support this feature, including Splatoon 2 and Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu!/Eevee! Additionally, Nintendo will delete your cloud saves if your subscription expires, so it’s to always have an offline copy of the save, too.

NES Game Library

Subscribers have access to a library of classic NES games. These games can be played locally or online with friends. These are the current 20 titles available:

  • 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

More games will be added every month to the library of games, including Metroid and Ninja Gaiden.

How are Nintendo fans reacting so far?

So far, fans have been hostile-to-lukewarm regarding the Switch’s online service. The screenshot above shows the like-dislike bar on the Switch online trailer on Nintendo’s official YouTube channel, with 35,000 dislikes compared to about 8,000 likes.

Nintendo has always had a shoddy history with their online services, always being years behind Microsoft and Sony. Compared to Xbox Live and PS Plus, Nintendo Switch online offers little incentive to pay up for Switch owners who don’t enjoy online multiplayer.

Main gripes include the lack of party chat, cloud saves being locked behind a paywall, the lack of a messaging system, and no web browser or popular media player options (YouTube, Netflix, etc). Thankfully, at least the price is much lower than the $60 per year you’d need to spend on Xbox One or PS4.

Time will tell whether this service either succeeds or further proves Nintendo’s incompetence when it comes to online service.

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