As you may or may not know, Nintendo is ending their free online multiplayer for the Switch, and is rolling out their paid subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online, to take its place some time in September this year.
Since my site is focusing on the Nintendo Switch, I thought it would be negligent not to at least share my thoughts on NSO, and break down what I gathered from the Switch’s News article about it. So I read Nintendo’s 548 word article, internalized the information therein, and in turn churned out my own ~2,000 word post about it here.
You can check out Nintendo’s official article on the News button of the Nintendo Switch, or, read up about it on Nintendo’s official website, here, but I think I’ve done a more than thorough job of explaining it all, so read this post first!
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of everything revealed from last Monday’s announcement.
This one’s a bit obvious, but I’ll talk about it anyways.
Nintendo Switch Online will now be required for online multiplayer, so Nintendo is officially jumping on the “pay to play online” bandwagon.
This doesn’t mean that you will have to scrounge together some coins of your own this second. The service is scheduled to launch in September 2018, so at the time of this writing, you’ll have approximately 3.5 months from now to get as much play out online as you can for free. When exactly in September is never said, but preparing for winter on the first of September would be the best course of action.
The curveball to this is that the bottom of the page says, “Not available in all countries. For the latest list of countries, please visit Customer Support.” It can be assumed that Nintendo Switch Online won’t be coming to all countries, at least by launch, so if you happen to be in this list of
yet unnamed countries, you may be able to continue to play online for free, but will miss out on the other features below.
Edit: According to Nintendo’s FAQ, here, Nintendo Switch Online is planned mostly in the Americas, so if you don’t live in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia or Peru, this service change does not apply to you, at least yet.
NES for Nintendo Switch Online
Perhaps the most unexpected feature of Nintendo Switch Online, subscribers will be able to either relive their childhood with some classic NES games, or just experience them for the first time ever, at no extra cost. But there’s a twist:
These games are reportedly being tweaked for “added online play,” to which Nintendo even notes will be the first time NES games will have online multiplayer capability. I can’t exactly envision playing, say, The (original) Legend of Zelda online with a friend, but Nintendo will make the happen in a matter of months!
As far as the initial lineup, Nintendo lists these ten games:
Soccer, Tennis, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Dr. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros. 3.
Nintendo also mentioned there would 10 additional games ready to play at launch, making a total of 20 NES games, but seems to be keeping these other 10 a secret until the service launches.
How this will be implemented on the Switch is also a mystery. Will these games each have a separate entry on the home screen? Will they all be housed under one game/app? Are they fully remade for the Nintendo Switch, or are they just enhanced Virtual Console ports? Who knows, maybe the NES games will be on the home screen as its own menu button, similar to the eShop, News, and Album buttons. All we can do at this point is just guess until September.
Cloud Game Saves
Not to be confused with Star Fox, or Final Fantasy 7’s player character, Nintendo will also be offering players the ability to backup their save data online. This is a much needed feature, as a Nintendo Switch “User’s” save data is stored only on the device itself, with no other way to backup the save data.
So, say for example… someone deletes your User Profile off of the Switch, or the Switch itself is stolen or lost. If you were not a subscriber to this feature, all of those hours sunk into exploring Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, or those Power Moons you painstakingly collected in Super Mario Odyssey, would be lost for good.
Even if those doomsday scenarios don’t happen to you, something similar could occur if you made a User Profile on a friend or family member’s Switch system. In order to keep your save data and move it to a new console normally, you’d need to have both Switches nearby and transfer the data from one to the other. Should you be put in a situation where said friend or relative just can’t meet up with you, your profile and save data are stuck in limbo until you can.
In the first example(s), your data would be backed up to Nintendo’s cloud storage, and getting it back would be as simple as just re-adding your user to the new Switch. If you have purchases on the eShop tied to a stolen or lost console, however, you’d need to contact Nintendo’s Customer Support and have them “deactivate” the other console.
In the second example, you could give the Switch owner a call and have them upload your data to the cloud, then just put your user on your own Switch. Like the above scenario, if you have purchases on the eShop as well, reach out to customer support.
Theoreticals aside, all Nintendo disclosed about this feature was, “Save your data online for easy access. Details about this feature will be available before the paid service launches in September.” So the specifics as to how to upload the data, how much save data can be uploaded, how to retrieve the data, and what happens when your membership expires, are all up in the air until September at the latest.
Mobile App for Nintendo Switch Online
Yes, there is a mobile app for Nintendo Switch Online. In fact, it’s out right now for your Smart Device.
The mobile app for Nintendo Switch Online is likely to be the key to organizing an online match with your friends. Within the app’s “Online Lounge,” play invitations can be sent via social media, directly to registered friends on the Switch, and to players whom you recently played with.
From the same Online Lounge, connected players can use voice chat through their smart device’s microphone, and talk with friends in both the game’s lobby and regular online play. At least, depending on the game, Nintendo adds.
The other feature of the app is the ability to “enhance your online experience for compatible games.” The specific example Nintendo uses (and currently the only one available,) is with Splatoon 2.
With the app, players can access “SplatNet 2,” which allows them to view and share their statistics, as well as “order” gear for the game, amongst other features.
Special Offers… and Discounts?
Special offers are also listed in the article, but all that is said about it is this: “Stay tuned for news on special deals and offers for members.”
More than likely, this will entail things like eShop discounts, in a similar vein to Xbox’s Deals with Gold or Playstation Plus’ discounts.
What’s the Price?
Nintendo also lays out their pricing plans, and to their defense, their prices are quite modest!
At least for now, Nintendo has priced their service as follows:
1 month USD $3.99
3 months USD $7.99
12 months USD $19.99
Note: Non-U.S. residents, Nintendo did not list any other currency/pricing plans in the article, but mentions that the pricing for other countries would be announced closer to NSO’s launch date.
Honestly, the prices aren’t that bad at all! Considering how both Sony and Microsoft have their prices set at $9.99 for 1 month, $24.99 for 3 months, and $59.99 for 12 in USD, Nintendo easily cuts their membership costs to nearly a third of what Xbox and Playstation ask for their membership services.
However, those prices are just for an individual membership on Nintendo Switch Online. Just buying a membership doesn’t allow you to share your multiplayer access as you would a “Home” Xbox or “Primary” PS4. In order to do that, you would need a “Family” membership for Nintendo Switch Online, which comes to $34.99, and is still about $25 cheaper than its competitors.
With a family membership, A single Nintendo Account holder can invite up to seven other people to join a “family group,” where all members of said group have access to Nintendo Switch Online. Because of Nintendo’s wording here, it seems like not only will each member have access to every other feature mentioned, but they will also have access across different switch systems. Of course, this was never explicitly said, so my interpretation here could be wrong.
Should you pursue the Family Membership route, you would also need to be 18 years old or older, and add either your credit/debit card to your eShop account, or your PayPal account, if you have one.
What About the Other Systems?
Glad you asked! (Or read, whichever applies!)
If you’re still a proud owner of a Nintendo 3DS system or Wii U Console, you need not worry. The membership is only applicable to the Nintendo Switch, and in Nintendo’s own words, “It does not affect online play for Wii U or Nintendo 3DS systems.”
So unless a particular game’s multiplayer server is pulled offline, you’ll still be able to blast your friends off the screen in Super Smash Bros., Play others’ courses or upload your own in Super Mario Maker, aim to be the best trainer in the Pokémon games, and so on, to your heart’s content.
While I don’t like that Nintendo is ending their free multiplayer, and marking the end of the concept for current-gen consoles, some of the added features could be just what the Switch needs.
This is especially true with the cloud save data backup, as there is no way to otherwise backup all of the hours, if not months, I’ve personally poured into the Switch.
All in all though, I don’t know if there are games I truly cannot stand being without online multiplayer on. Splatoon may be a game that dares to challenge that feeling, but I’ve almost always preferred to play games locally with friends.
As for the backup feature, the cloud storage is nice, but my Switch is entirely personal to me. Barring hardware failure, I can’t see myself using the cloud storage for anything other than peace of mind. If I have a profile on another Switch console, then that may just change. (i.e., a Switch for the household.)
Lastly, I want to talk about the pricing. What Nintendo is using for pricing plans currently is a great value for Switch gamers, but opposed to free, it still is a slightly bitter pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, having prices a nearly a third of Sony’s and Xbox’s membership costs is a brilliant move, and Nintendo Switch Online offers more than what I originally thought it would, but I think the Switch needs more new games with an excellent multiplayer experience before I can be fully tempted into joining it.
In the meantime, I just wish they would add in some other features that the Switch needs. In a free system update, preferably.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s new online service?
For more about Nintendo Switch Online, visit:
– The Candid Gamer
P.S.: If you enjoyed this article, you’re in luck! I plan on giving every article I post here the same level of detail and thought, and aim to provide a honest, unbiased review of every game I write about. If that sounds great to you, stick around! You’ll love it here!