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The Nintendo Switch Online MEGA FAQ

by Oliver BrandtSeptember 18, 2018

Nintendo Switch Online is just around the corner. In just a short time, we’ll be paying for online, chatting on our phones, and playing Ice Climbers with our pals across the world. But there’s so much information out there, and it’s all in different places — it can be hard to track down exactly what you need to know. So, we scoured dozens of support pages, Nintendo’s own FAQ, and heaps of official web pages and collated it all into one place. If we’ve missed anything, let us know in the comments!

Presenting our Nintendo Switch Online Mega FAQ — absolutely everything you need to know about Nintendo’s new online service.

20/09/2018 — Update: We’ve updated our FAQ with a few more details now that the service has gone live. 

What is it?

Nintendo Switch Online, sometimes called NSO, is Nintendo’s new paid online service. You’ll need it if you want to play most games online, but there are a few exceptions. You also get a few extras thrown in for good measure, like online NES games, cloud saves, and some special offers.

How much does it cost?

There’s a bunch of different plans, but the short answer is $29.95AU a year. You can also choose to pay monthly or every 3 months, which will set you back $5.95AU and $11.95AU respectively. Basically, the longer the plan, the more money you’re saving. There’s also a family plan option, which gives NSO access to 8 accounts for $54.95 a year.

How can I buy it?

You’ll be able to buy it on the eShop itself, using either your credit card or PayPal, or your eShop wallet balance. You’ll also be able to buy NSO cards from retailers like EB Games, or purchase it on the Nintendo Australia website.

Can I pay using My Nintendo Gold Points? 

Yep! Nintendo of America’s support website says you can use them when buying a subscription, but they cannot be used for automatic renewal.

What do I get?

When you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, you’ll be able to play multiplayer games online, much like you’ve been able to for free since the Switch launched. You’ll also get access to cloud backups for your saves for most games, access to the Nintendo Switch Online app including voice chat, a large selection of NES games that can be played online with friends, and a few special offers only available to subscribers.

When does it launch?

Update: it’s out now!

Very soon! It’s currently scheduled to launch on Wednesday the 19th of September. The exact time isn’t known, but there’s the 6.0.0 firmware update which goes live at 10:00 am AEST, and three hours of server maintenance after that, so expect to see it go live at about 1:00 pm AEST.

Does every game require it to play online?

Most games do, but there is one pretty big exception: free-to-play games like Fortnite, Paladins, and the upcoming Arena of Valor won’t need it.

Is there a free trial?

Yep! Once the service launches on Wednesday, you’ll be able to apply for a 7-day free trial, though you won’t get access to the special offers unless you’ve actually paid.

Can pay for multiple years at a time?

You can. Nintendo’s website says you can buy a NSO subscription even if you’ve already got one active, and you can accumulate up to 3 years worth of the service.

Does everyone on my console get access when I buy it?

Sadly not. If you have multiple users, each person will have to have their own subscription. Or you can get a family plan and add each user to it.

What if we’re playing a game together on the same console?

As far as we know, as long as the first player has a subscription you should be totally fine, even if nobody else playing does. We don’t 100% know if this works for all games, Nintendo only gave Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as an example, but it’s a pretty safe assumption that it’ll work for most games.

What games do I get?

There will be 20 NES games available at launch, with 3 added to the library each month. Here are the launch titles:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Baseball
  • Donkey Kong
  • Double Dragon
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts’n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Ice Hockey
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mario Bros.
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Soccer
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Tennis
  • Yoshi

And here are the titles that are coming later this year:

OctoberNovemberDecember
  • Solomon’s Key
  • NES Open Tournament Golf
  • Super Dodge Ball
  • Metroid
  • Mighty Bomb Jack
  • Twinbee
  • Wario’s Woods
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Adventures of Lolo

Do I get to keep them once my NSO runs out?

Nope, you can only access the NES games if you have an active NSO subscription.

Do I need to be online to play them?

You don’t, but you do have to connect to the internet once every 7 days just to check in with Nintendo’s servers.

Do any of the games go away?

They don’t! The NES library is ever-growing, so it’ll only get bigger from here.

What new features do they have?

Well, online multiplayer is the big one. You’ll get to play multiplayer games with anyone across the world. You can also play single player games online, with the screen streamed to your friend’s Switch, where you’ll be able to pass off controls to your friend at any time.

Is it only ever going to be NES games?

We don’t really know. Originally, Nintendo said we’d be getting SNES games, but that was over a year ago, and we haven’t heard much about them since. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Can I play Japan’s Famicom collection too?

You can. If you have a Japanese Nintendo account, you can download the Famicom app for free from the Japanese eShop, regardless of if that account has NSO. Then, you can just launch the app on the account that does have NSO, and you’re good to go!

How does it work?

When you’re connected to the internet, your saves will automatically be backed up to the server. It’s as simple as that! You can also upload save data manually, and retrieve it at any time using the options menu on the home screen.

Can I opt out?

Yep! You’ll be able to turn off automatic save uploads from the settings menu at any time.

Will all games support it?

Unfortunately not, but most games will. Out of the hundreds of games on the Switch, only 4 have been confirmed not to support Save Data Cloud backup: 1-2-Switch, Splatoon 2, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, and Dark Souls Remastered. More will likely be confirmed as they’re announced or released.

Can I access my save data on multiple consoles?

You can access your save data on any console you’re logged into.

How many saves can I store?

You can upload one save file per game.

Is there a limit on my cloud storage space?

We don’t really know at this point. It might be unlimited, but we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll be sure to update this article when we have more information.

What can I do with the app?

You can use the Nintendo Switch Online app to voice chat with other players in certain games, as long as they’re in the same session as you. Some games, like Splatoon 2, also have special features only accessible in the app.

Can I talk to strangers?

You can in some games, but it’s totally optional. Some games, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Tennis Aces, support this already, and more will likely add the feature in the future.

Do I have to use it?

Only if you want to voice chat, or use special features in games like Splatoon 2. If you’re not interested in either of those things, you don’t really need the app.

What phones does it work on?

Nintendo says the NSO app should work on any iOS device on iOS 9.0 or above, and any Android device on Android 4.4 or above. Some devices aren’t compatible for one reason or another, but the vast majority that meets those specifications should be just fine.

What games are compatible with voice chat?

Right now, we know that voice chat works with NES games, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS, Mario Tennis Aces, and Splatoon 2. More are likely to be added in future game updates.

Can I voice chat on the console itself?

Unfortunately not, if you want to voice chat, you have to use the app.

So what do I get?

It’s a little unclear what offers will be available in the future, but there are two currently known offers. The first is the option to buy the very cool NES controllers for use with the Nintendo Switch Online NES games. The second is a set of NSO-themed Splatoon 2 gear.

How much do the controllers cost?

$79.95 for the two pack, plus shipping.

How many controllers can I order?

Orders are limited to one per customer, but each order comes with two controllers.

Where can I order them from?

You can order them from a special page on Nintendo Australia’s website, which you can get to by clicking here.

If I have a family plan, does everybody get access to the offers?

Yep! The main info page for the exclusive offers says every account within a family plan will get a code for the Splatoon 2 gear, and the Nintendo of America FAQ for the NES controllers says that each member of a family plan can order one of those, too.

Can I use the controllers for games other than NES games? 

Possibly not, it’s a little unclear — some sources say you can only use it with the NES games, but others say it was simply designed for use with the NES games, and may not work with other games. We’ll let you know when they launch this December.

When can I order them, and when do they ship?

You can order them on the 19th, when Nintendo Switch Online goes live. According to Nintendo Australia’s website, they’ll ship in mid-December.

How can I create or manage a family group?

You can create or manage a family group by visiting accounts.nintendo.com and clicking on the Family Group link on the left-hand side.

Can I use a family group to split the cost of NSO with 7 friends?

Yep! Because there are no limitations on how many consoles are used, you can split the cost and have 8 different accounts on 8 different consoles all benefiting from the same family plan.

What information can other members of the family group see?

Other members of the family group can see the nickname, Mii, gender, and region associated with your Nintendo account. They cannot see your email address, purchases made, or any other private information.

Can other members of the family group play my games?

Nope. Purchases are made per account with each individual member’s payment methods, and are not shared amongst the group. However, the Switch 6.0.0 firmware update did enable a kind of game sharing, but it has restrictions. Read more about the 6.0.0 update here. 

Can I merge two family groups?

You cannot. If you want to join another family group, you’ll either have to leave the one you’re currently in, or, in the case of the group’s admin, disband the group by removing all other members.

Are family groups region restricted?

No, the members of a family group can be from any region.

Are there any risks in joining a family group?

For the most part, no, as long as you trust the people you’re in a family group with. Admins in the family group can restrict purchases or prevent a person from leaving the group, so it’s probably not a great idea to join a family group with a bunch of strangers you’ve never met.

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About The Author
Oliver Brandt
Digital game collector, impulse spender, and news editor. I write reviews and report on cool Nintendo stuff. Also the number one Minecraft guy on the team. Mine Cart Madness is the worst thing to happen to video games.

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