If you own a Nintendo Switch right now, you can connect to the internet and play multiplayer in all supported games without having to pay an extra fee. That changes next month with the launch of Nintendo Switch Online, the console’s subscription service that also includes a few bonus features.
On the evening of Thursday, August 9, Nintendo revealed on Twitter that the Nintendo Switch Online service would launch in the “second half of September,” though the company still has not put a final date on when you’ll have to start paying. The service will be available in several different bundles, including one-month plans for $4, three-month plans for $8, and yearly plans for $20. Families can also purchase the yearly family membership for $35, which gives up to eight different users access to Nintendo Switch Online. This works differently than on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, when anyone playing on a user’s “home” console has access to the subscription’s benefits.
In addition to online play, a Nintendo Switch Online membership includes access to a vault of classic NES Games, effectively replacing the Virtual Console that Nintendo has used in the past. Launch titles include Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, The Legend of Zelda, and Dr. Mario, and online functionality has been added to all of them. They also support voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, though it’s honestly easier to just use Facetime or Skype while you play, instead.
Only NES games will be offered through the service, at least right now, giving Switch owners no way to play classic SNES games on the system. It certainly makes the SNES Classic a more attractive console.
Lastly, having a Nintendo Switch Online subscription will give you access to cloud save backups. The is currently no way to backup save files on the Switch using an external drive or the internet, though you can transfer data between two Switch consoles directly. Finally giving players the peace of mind that their Switch getting broken won’t mean the death of their 300-hour Breath of the Wild game is certainly welcome, though we wonder why it’s only included with the subscription.