What Is Nintendo Switch Online? Is It Worth It?

Nintendo decided to follow Sony and Microsoft in providing their online service as a paid subscription. Not only can gamers play games online with the service, subscribers will gain access to other perks such as, cloud saves, access to a selection of free classic games, and more.
In this post, I’ll discuss what the Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) membership is, as well as provide information on these perks, pricing model, and if the service is worth it. 

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription based online service for the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite where you can play games online with friends or people around the world as well as gain access to specific benefits that are only available to paid subscribers.

What is Included in a Nintendo Switch Online Membership?

With a Nintendo Switch Online membership, subscribers will have access to several premium benefits which are available through all subscription tiers.

Access to Online Multiplayer

NSO gives players the ability to play other players from around the world online. Pretty straightforward. However, without an active subscription, access to online multiplayer for games like Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Animal Crossing New Horizons, and Pokemon Sword & Shield will be restricted.

There is a catch. There are some free to play games such as Fortnite and Warframe, that don’t require a subscription to play online.

Ultimately, a subscription isn’t required to play single-player games and local multiplayer with friends, but is required if you want to play online.

The Nintendo Switch Online App

The Nintendo Switch Online App is a companion app for the Nintendo Switch that gamers need in order to chat with other players online and is available for both iOS and Android.

Other than chat features, the app also provides special features for certain games like a barcode scanner to import user created custom designs, from the internet, into Animal Crossing New Horizons. However, it seems as though a lot of Switch games aren’t capitalizing on extra features for the app.

Overall, The app is pretty limited in functionality. At most you’ll be able to chat with players, schedule game sessions, and utilize game specific features (which in itself is limited to a handful of games).

Nintendo Switch Save Data Cloud

NSO’s cloud data saves allows players the ability to save game progress to Nintendo’s cloud servers. This way, if you ever break or upgrade your Switch console, you can log into the new console with your Nintendo Account and access all of your digital purchases and redownload your saved data.

For the most part, this feature works with most Switch games however there are certain games that don’t use this feature. According to Nintendo, to know which games are compatible with cloud saves and the Switch Online App, always check the information on the product page in the eShop (if buying digital), or on the game case (if buying physical).

If a player decides to cancel their subscription, or it by chance happens to lapse without renewing, you have a window of roughly six months before all of the player’s saved data is deleted. Once that happens, gamers can’t retrieve that data.

Special Offers

Special Offers are Nintendo’s way of giving special benefits to members who sign up for a subscription. 

Included with an NSO membership, you can expect to purchase a wireless NES and SNES controller for your Switch, a free downloadable copy of Tetris 99 and some downloadable in game content for certain games.

One thing that’s missing, which is a surprise, is no deals on actual games in the Nintendo eShop.

Do You Get Free Games with Nintendo Switch Online?

Similar to PS Plus’ games of the month and Xbox Live’s games with gold, Nintendo Switch Online has a selection of free games. However, the difference is instead of receiving a major title from the Wii or a recently released game on the Switch, Nintendo instead gives you access to a library of classic NES and SNES games. 

There’s no extra cost to play these classic games. All you need to do is download the free NES app to your Switch from the eShop, and then, within the NES app, you can select the game you want to play, download it, and play.

Below are some of the games you can find available to play.


  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Balloon Fight
  • Baseball
  • Blaster Master (+ SP version)
  • City Connection
  • Clu Clu Land
  • Crystalis
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong 3
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon
  • Mario Bros.
  • Metroid (+ SP version)
  • Mighty Bomb Jack (+ SP version)
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Ninja Gaiden (+ SP version)
  • Pro Wrestling
  • Punch-Out!!
  • Volleyball
  • Vs. Excitebike
  • Wario’s Woods
  • Wrecking Crew
  • Yoshi
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link


  • Brawl Brothers
  • Breath of Fire
  • Breath of Fire II
  • Demon’s Crest
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest (coming 23 September 2020)
  • F-Zero
  • Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Stunt Race FX
  • Super E.D.F. Earth Defense Force
  • Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  • Super Mario All-Stars
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario World

Check out this complete list of classic NES games.

How Much Does a Nintendo Switch Online Membership Cost?

As with any subscription service, you have different tiers to choose from. For Nintendo Switch Online, you have your standard individual plans which consists of a monthly plan at $3.99, and quarterly plan (3-Month) at $6.99, and an annual plan (12-months) at $19.99.

Nintendo also has an option for families that consists of only a 12-month plan that costs $35 a year. With this option, families will have the ability to add up to 8 family members to the account. There’s no extra cost per person on this account, and each family member is able to take full advantage of the NSO services as well as their own account on different Switch consoles or the family Switch console.

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Is Nintendo Switch Online Worth it? My Thoughts

So is a Nintendo Switch Online membership worth it? Overall Yes but it isn’t without its drawbacks. When the online works, it works, however, I’ve had instances where my internet is full bars, and the NSO connection disconnects me from my group sessions with friends. 

This isn’t to say that this happens to everyone, but I have seen common complaints among friends and online users about the connection being an issue. 

The special offers for members aren’t exactly special offers in a traditional sense of discounts in the online store. It consists more of special downloadable content for certain games. However the only pieces of content to download for members at this moment are an exclusive in-game outfit for Splatoon 2, and a silk rug item for Animal Crossing New Horizons. And besides the ability to purchase a wireless NES and SNES controller, that’s basically it for the offers. 

I’d personally like to see more discount perks in their online store, similar to Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, however Nintendo isn’t really known for discounts on their games (one can dream though).

And the NSO app? Not really worth the time.

That being said, the positives of this services are the access to great classic NES/SNES games, the ability to have cloud saves, which can come in handy if you need to “Switch” devices, and the overall price of the annual individual subscription plan is not only the best value, but is also cheaper than that of PS Plus and Xbox Live annual plans. 

Ultimately,  it will all depend on your budget and how you plan to use your Switch.