Nintendo Switch Online

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Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo Switch Online logo.svg
TypeOnline service
Launch dateSeptember 18, 2018; 2 years ago (2018-09-18)
Platform(s)Nintendo Switch
MembersOver 26 million (as of September 2020)

Nintendo Switch Online (colloquially known as NSO) is a suite of features on the Nintendo Switch video game console requiring purchase of a subscription. Nintendo Switch Online features include online multiplayer, cloud saving, voice chat, access to a library of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games, as well as other promotions and offers. Following a period where some of its features were available to all users at no charge, the subscription service officially launched on September 18, 2018.

The service is Nintendo's third generation online service after Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Nintendo Network.


The Nintendo Switch was formally announced in January 2017, with its release on March 3, 2017. Nintendo stated in its pre-release announcements that the system would eventually require purchase of a paid "online service", but that they would be available to all users at no charge until the service launched. Features announced included a companion smartphone app, as well as access to a free Nintendo Entertainment System game per-month. The service was initially planned for late 2017.[1] By June 2017, Nintendo pushed back the service's release until 2018, but did establish the pricing plans for the service, with an average annual price of US$20, depending on region.[2] Then-Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé explained that the delays were to ensure that the service was "world-class", and had enough of its announced functionality available on-launch to justify its cost.[3] Nintendo aimed for a lower price point in comparison to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, as the service does not include the same range of features as these subscription services provide.[4][5] Then-Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that the price point was a subject of importance in designing the Switch's online services, and that regardless of what competitors were doing, "it's a matter of getting our content to the consumer at a price point that would make them happy, and then we're willing to look at what else we can do going forward."[6]

The Nintendo Switch Online service was launched on September 18, 2018.[7][8][9] A Nintendo Direct two days before the release detailed the full set of features that would be part of the Online service, including a larger and persistent library of NES games for subscribers (with 20 available on launch, and more to be added on an ongoing basis), as well as cloud save support.[10] The initial launch covered 43 markets, with more markets expected to follow later.[11][12][13][14]

In September 2018, Nintendo Switch consoles imported to China started experiencing connectivity issues there, due to the Nintendo Switch Online service using Google's servers, which are blocked in China.[15]

On March 28, 2019, Twitch announced that Twitch Prime members can claim up to a year of free Nintendo Switch Online membership between March 28, 2019 and January 20, 2020.[16]

The service officially launched in South Korea and Hong Kong,[17] on April 23, 2019.[18]

On September 4, 2019, Nintendo announced in a Nintendo Direct presentation that Super NES games would be added to the service the following day under a separate app.[19]


By December 31, 2018, approximately three months after its launch, the service had gained more than eight million subscribers.[20] Nintendo reported in late-April 2019 that the service had 9.8 million subscribers.[21] The service reached over 10 million subscribers by July 2019,[22] and over 15 million by January 2020.[23] The service had reached over 26 million members by September 2020.[24]



Nintendo Switch Online is required to access online multiplayer on the majority of titles. Some free-to-play multiplayer games, such as Fortnite Battle Royale and Warframe, are exempt from this requirement, and can be played online freely without a subscription.[25][26]

Cloud saves[edit]

Cloud storage allows save data for many games to be synchronized online, so it can be recovered if the user must move their Nintendo Account to a different Switch console or if they use multiple consoles.[27] The feature is not supported for some games including those with certain forms of online functionality such as item trading and competitive rankings, citing concerns surrounding the possibility of abuse that could "unfairly affect" gameplay.[28]

Users will lose access to their cloud saves should they allow their subscription to lapse, though there is a grace period of six months to renew the subscription and recover them before they are purged.[29][30]

According to the list below, there are currently 52 games which do not support cloud save functionality.[31]

Companion app[edit]

The Nintendo Switch Online Smartphone App is a console companion application developed and published by Nintendo for use alongside the Nintendo Switch Online service. Released on July 21, 2017[32] for use on iOS and Android devices. The app features voice chat and "game-specific services" for games such as Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Mario Tennis Aces, Nintendo Entertainment System for Nintendo Switch Online, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.[33]


Users can voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app on smartphones. Voice chat functionality is not available natively through the Switch console; Fils-Aimé justified the decision by explaining that "Nintendo's approach is to do things differently. We have a much different suite of experiences than our competitors offer, and we do that in a different way. This creates a sort of yin and yang for our consumers. They're excited about cloud saves and legacy content but wish we might deliver voice chat a different way, for example."[34]

Classic games service[edit]

Past Nintendo consoles (including the Wii, Wii U, and the Nintendo 3DS family) with online functionality had offered games from Nintendo's older console libraries through the Virtual Console. But they would not use this for the Nintendo Switch. Instead on both the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, Switch Online subscribers can access Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) apps, both which feature a persistent and expanding library of classic titles from the systems. Access to the games are available as long as the user has an active subscription, and a user must connect to the internet at least once a week to continue to access the titles while offline. Games with multiplayer modes support both local and online play; online play functionality is a first for NES and SNES games.[35][36][37][38]

Certain NES games released on the service beginning in October 2018 also have an alternative version labeled "SP" ("Extra" in some regions) which either starts the player near the end of the game or starts the game with the maximum amount of items and lives. Most of the games released in both the Americas and PAL territories are the original NTSC-U versions, including their North American naming and 60 Hz support. The Western NES variant of the software is available in South Korea, while the Japanese Family Computer variant is available in Hong Kong.[18]

During its first year, the Online service provided a new batch of NES games on a monthly basis. However, with the addition of SNES titles in September 2019, Nintendo stated that new NES and SNES games would no longer be made available on a regular schedule though would continue to expand both libraries over time.[39]

The service is home to several titles that were not available on the Virtual Console including Crystalis, Journey to Silius, Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics and Star Fox 2. Some games saw their first re-release in any form since their original debut such as Pro Wrestling,[40] Vice: Project Doom,[41] and Stunt Race FX. The service also marks the first ever North American release of the SNES games Pop'n TwinBee, Smash Tennis, and Mario's Super Picross.[42]

NES games[edit]

With the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online service on September 19, 2018, NES games were made available with 20 titles available at launch. Subscribers can access them through a dedicated app. As of September 23, 2020, games available include:

List of NES games on Nintendo Switch Online
Release date Game Publisher NA/PAL/KR JP/HK
September 19, 2018[43] Balloon Fight Nintendo Yes Yes
Baseball Nintendo Yes Yes
Donkey Kong Nintendo Yes Yes
Double Dragon Arc System Works Yes Yes
Dr. Mario Nintendo Yes Yes
Excitebike Nintendo Yes Yes
Ghosts'n Goblins Capcom Yes Yes
Gradius Konami Yes Yes
Ice Climber Nintendo Yes Yes
Ice Hockey[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
The Legend of Zelda[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
Mario Bros. Nintendo Yes Yes
Pro Wrestling[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
River City Ransom Arc System Works Yes Yes
Soccer Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo Yes Yes
Tecmo Bowl Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
Tennis Nintendo Yes Yes
Yoshi Nintendo Yes Yes
October 10, 2018[44][45] The Legend of Zelda SP Nintendo Yes Yes
NES Open Tournament Golf Nintendo Yes Yes
Solomon's Key Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
Super Dodge Ball Arc System Works Yes Yes
November 14, 2018[46][47] Gradius SP (Stage 5) Konami Yes Yes
Metroid[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
Mighty Bomb Jack Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
NES Open Tournament Golf SP Nintendo No Yes
TwinBee Konami Yes Yes
December 12, 2018[48][49] Adventures of Lolo HAL Laboratory Yes No
Adventures of Lolo 2 HAL Laboratory No Yes
Dr. Mario SP Nintendo Yes Yes
Metroid SP (Ridley battle) Nintendo Yes Yes
Ninja Gaiden Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
Wario's Woods Nintendo Yes Yes
January 16, 2019[50][51] Blaster Master Sunsoft Yes Yes
Ghosts'n Goblins SP Capcom Yes Yes
Joy Mech Fight Nintendo No Yes
Ninja Gaiden SP Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
February 13, 2019[52][53] Blaster Master SP Sunsoft Yes Yes
Kirby's Adventure Nintendo Yes Yes
Metroid SP (Mother Brain battle) Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Mario Bros. 2[B] Nintendo Yes Yes
Tsuppari Oozumou Koei Tecmo No Yes
March 13, 2019[54][55] Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light Nintendo No Yes
Kid Icarus[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
Kirby's Adventure SP Nintendo Yes Yes
StarTropics Nintendo Yes No
Yie Ar Kung-Fu Konami No Yes
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link SP Nintendo Yes Yes
April 10, 2019[56][57] Kid Icarus SP Nintendo Yes Yes
Punch-Out!! Nintendo Yes Yes
Star Soldier Konami Yes Yes
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels[C][D] Nintendo Yes Yes
May 15, 2019[58] Clu Clu Land Nintendo Yes No
Clu Clu Land: Welcome to New Cluclu Land[E] Nintendo No Yes
Donkey Kong Jr. Nintendo Yes Yes
Star Soldier SP Konami Yes Yes
Vs. Excitebike[D] Nintendo Yes Yes
June 12, 2019[59] City Connection City Connection Yes Yes
Double Dragon II: The Revenge Arc System Works Yes Yes
TwinBee SP Konami Yes Yes
Volleyball[A] Nintendo Yes Yes
July 17, 2019[60] Donkey Kong 3 Nintendo Yes Yes
Mighty Bomb Jack SP Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
Wrecking Crew Nintendo Yes Yes
August 21, 2019[61] Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai Arc System Works No Yes
Gradius SP (Second loop) Konami Yes Yes
Kung Fu Heroes Culture Brain Excel Yes Yes
Vice: Project Doom Sega Yes Yes [F]
December 12, 2019[62] Crystalis SNK Yes Yes [G]
Famicom Wars Nintendo No Yes
Journey to Silius Sunsoft Yes Yes [H]
Route-16 Turbo Sunsoft No Yes
February 19, 2020[63] Atlantis no Nazo Sunsoft No Yes
Eliminator Boat Duel Piko Interactive Yes No
Shadow of the Ninja Natsume Yes No
April 20, 2020[64] Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light SP Nintendo No Yes
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light SP 2 Nintendo No Yes
May 20, 2020[65] Rygar Koei Tecmo Yes Yes
July 15, 2020[66] The Immortal Piko Interactive Yes No
September 23, 2020[67] S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team Natsume Yes No
  "SP" game
  1. ^ a b c d e f g The Family Computer Disk System version was released in Japan.
  2. ^ Titled Super Mario USA in Japan.
  3. ^ Titled Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan.
  4. ^ a b A Family Computer Disk System game.
  5. ^ A Family Computer Disk System port of the arcade edition titled Vs. Clu Clu Land.
  6. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on July 15, 2020.
  7. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on February 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on May 20, 2020.

SNES games[edit]

Announced in a Nintendo Direct on September 4, 2019, SNES games were added to the service worldwide with 20 titles on September 5, 2019.[19] They are available in a separate app from NES games. As of September 23, 2020, games available include:

List of Super NES games on Nintendo Switch Online
Release date Game Publisher NA/PAL/KR JP/HK
September 5, 2019[19] Brawl Brothers City Connection Yes Yes
Breath of Fire Capcom Yes Yes
Demon's Crest Capcom Yes Yes
F-Zero Nintendo Yes Yes
Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics G-Mode Yes Yes
Kirby's Dream Course Nintendo Yes Yes
Kirby's Dream Land 3 Nintendo Yes Yes
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Nintendo Yes Yes
Pilotwings Nintendo Yes Yes
Smash Tennis Bandai Namco Yes [a] Yes
Star Fox Nintendo Yes Yes
Stunt Race FX Nintendo Yes Yes
Super E.D.F. Earth Defense Force City Connection Yes Yes
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Capcom Yes Yes
Super Mario Kart Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Mario World Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Metroid Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Puyo Puyo 2 Sega Yes Yes
Super Soccer Spike Chunsoft Yes Yes
Super Tennis Nintendo[b] Yes Yes [c]
December 12, 2019[62] Breath of Fire II Capcom Yes Yes [d]
Kirby Super Star Nintendo Yes Yes
Star Fox 2 Nintendo Yes Yes
Super Punch-Out!! Nintendo Yes Yes [e]
February 19, 2020[63] Pop'n TwinBee Konami Yes Yes
May 20, 2020[65] Operation Logic Bomb City Connection Yes No
Panel de Pon Nintendo Yes [f] Yes
Wild Guns Natsume Yes Yes [g]
July 15, 2020[66] Donkey Kong Country Nintendo Yes Yes
Natsume Championship Wrestling Natsume Yes No
Shin Megami Tensei Atlus No Yes
September 3, 2020[69] Super Mario All-Stars Nintendo Yes Yes
September 23, 2020[67] Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest Nintendo Yes Yes
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem Nintendo No Yes
Mario's Super Picross Nintendo Yes No
The Peace Keepers City Connection Yes No
  1. ^ Originally exclusive to Japan, but was eventually released in Western regions on February 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Published by Tonkin House in Japan.
  3. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on September 23, 2020.
  4. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on February 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on May 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Panel de Pon was internationally released as Tetris Attack in 1996. This marks the first time the original game gets a worldwide release.[68]
  7. ^ Originally exclusive to Western regions, but was eventually released in Japan on September 23, 2020.

Offers and promotions[edit]

Switch Online subscribers are also granted access to special offers and promotions from Nintendo; on launch, those who purchased a 12-month subscription or family plan received special in-game items for Splatoon 2, and Nintendo opened exclusive pre-orders for special wireless controllers based on the NES controller,[70][71][72][73] specifically intended for use with the aforementioned NES app.[citation needed] Similarly, a special wireless SNES-based controller designed to work with the Switch was made available to purchase exclusively to Online subscribers shortly after the service added support for SNES titles.[74]

Coinciding with the anticipated release of Super Mario Maker 2, a price-reduction promotion was announced during the game's Nintendo Direct that was available exclusively to Nintendo Switch Online members. The promotion introduced "Nintendo Switch Game Vouchers", which allows purchasers to download two qualifying Nintendo Switch games for a set price of $99.99 MSRP, compared to a $120 sum of buying both games separately.[75]

Nintendo has also offered free original games for those with an Online subscription. Tetris 99 was released as a free to play title for subscribers in February 2019, though has subsequently offered paid downloadable content and retail versions of the game for non-subscribers.[76] Super Mario Bros. 35 will be released in October 2020, and will be available only until March 2021.[77]

See also[edit]


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