- With a Nintendo Switch Online membership you can play online multiplayer games on your Nintendo Switch.
- A basic Nintendo Switch Online membership is $US19.99 ($AU28) for a year, while the “Expansion Pack” plan is $US49.99 ($AU69).
- Nintendo Switch Online also gives you access to dozens of free games, including classics from the Nintendo 64.
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If you want to make the most of your Nintendo Switch experience, then you need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
Nintendo Switch Online gives you unlimited access to online multiplayer, which is great for games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and necessary to play online-only games like Among Us.
You can sign up for Nintendo Switch Online using your Switch, or straight from your computer or phone. Here’s how much Nintendo Switch Online costs, and some of the exclusive features you’ll unlock with your membership.
How much is Nintendo Switch Online?
There are two Nintendo Switch Online membership tiers: The basic subscription and the “Expansion Pack” subscription. The Expansion Pack has all the same features of the basic plan, along with some extras that we’ll explain below.
- A basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription costs $US3.99 ($AU5) a month, $US7.99 ($AU11) for three months, or $US19.99 ($AU28) for a year.
- A Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription costs $US49.99 ($AU69) for a year — there’s no monthly option.
If you’re planning on sharing your account, you can also sign up for a Family Membership, which gives up to eight Nintendo Account holders online access for a year. This raises the prices to $US34.99 ($AU48) for a basic subscription, and $US79.99 ($AU110) for an Expansion Pack subscription. Again, there’s no monthly version.
No matter which version you pick, you can try Nintendo Switch Online for free for seven days.
What a Nintendo Switch Online membership offers
Live multiplayer action
A Nintendo Switch Online account lets you play multiplayer games online with gamers from all around the world. This is the service’s most important feature, and probably the one that you’ll use the most.
Having online multiplayer can massively enhance some games. For example, it unlocks competitive tournaments in Pokémon Sword and Shield, and new game modes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Some online-only games require Nintendo Switch Online just to play them — this includes megahits like Among Us and Overwatch.
New battle royale games
When Nintendo Switch Online first launched, it came with an exclusive game: Tetris 99. This is a battle royale version of Tetris that pits you in a survival contest against 99 other players at once.
Since then, they’ve also released PAC-MAN 99 and Super Mario Bros. 35, two more modernized versions of classic games.
These games are free, but you can only download and play them with a Switch Online membership.
Classic Nintendo games
One of Nintendo Switch Online’s most acclaimed features is its library of classic games. A subscription gives you free access to dozens of these games, which were originally released in the late 1980s and 90s but have been remastered specifically for play on the Switch.
The basic Switch Online plan gives you games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, like Double Dragon and Mario Kart. The Expansion Pack adds Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Ecco the Dolphin.
You can also play most of these games online with people on your Switch friends list, giving you a brand new way to experience the classics.
Backup save data
Switch Online automatically uploads all of your save data to Nintendo’s servers. This means that even if your console is lost or damaged, you won’t lose your progress. It also lets you move between Switch consoles easily, without worrying about which device you’ve played on more.
Just remember that if you unsubscribe from the Nintendo Switch Online service, you’ll need to resubscribe within 180 days or your cloud saves will be erased.
Expansion Pack members get free DLC for popular games
Users who’ve signed up for the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack plan also have access to downloadable content for certain games.
As of this writing, Expansion Pack users who play Animal Crossing: New Horizons will receive the Happy Home Paradise DLC for free. This DLC costs $US24.99 ($AU34) by itself.
There’s a good chance that more games will distribute DLC this way in the future.
Use the Nintendo Switch Online app
Nintendo Switch Online also includes the Nintendo Switch Online app for iPhone and Android, which lets you check your in-game stats and voice chat with other app users.
Certain games, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, gain new features when connected to the Nintendo Switch Online app too.
Steven John contributed to a previous version of this article.