Nintendo Switch Online finally launches: Here what you need to know about its features, prices, and more

We’ve been anticipating it for more than a year, but Nintendo has finally launched Nintendo Switch Online.

The paid subscription service provides members with a variety of services, from online play on many games to access to a library of classic NES games. It replaces the console’s previous system which allowed online play for free, but many of its new features will change your gaming experience for the better.

Membership costs £17.99 per year or £3.49 per month, with a family bundle available at £31.49 per year. In addition, all Nintendo Account holders will be able to try a seven-day free trial of the service. Nintendo Switch Online therefore is similar to Playstation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, with online play exclusive to users of the premium service

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Nintendo Switch Online: What you need to know

Nintendo Switch Online features: What does your subscription get you?

The main feature of Nintendo Switch Online is that it is now necessary to play games online. Games with popular online player bases include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Rocket League and Minecraft, and playing these online will now require the service. It’s worth remembering, however, that local multiplayer is still available to those who don’t use the service.

If this change prompts you to pick up a new game to play online, you’re in luck as another aspect of the service is special offers on games and products. Currently the only game content available is a special gear for Splatoon 2, but it’s likely Nintendo will give users special discounts on big games as Sony and Microsoft do on their services.

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Your subscription to Nintendo Switch Online also provides you access to a large library of classic NES games. Twenty titles are available currently, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Ghosts’n Goblins. Nintendo have promised that new games will be added regularly, with NES Open Tournament Golf and Metroid to be released in October and November respectively.

To cater even more to the nostalgia of retro gamers, Nintendo have released special NES controllers that are compatible with the Switch, however for the time being these are unavailable in the UK.

The most useful addition to Nintendo Switch Online is its Save Data Cloud Backup system. Included with the subscription fee, this means Switch owners can finally back up and transfer their saved data between Switch devices – something that’s been a bugbear of many Switch owners since launch. It’s almost worth the subscription fee alone to protect my 160-hour Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild save.

The final feature of Nintendo Switch Online is the Nintendo Switch smartphone app, which lets you to send messages to friends and partake in voice chat with other players in games. It also gives you in-game data, reminding you while you play that you’ve lost your last five matches.

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