Nintendo Switch Online FAQ

Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) doesn’t have anything to do with charging your Switch. But while answering questions on charging the Switch I’ve seen a lot of NSO questions come up. So here is an FAQ based on the questions (with answers) I keep seeing people ask.

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Check out Nintendo’s NSO page for details. In short it is a paid online service which offers:

  • Online multiplayer service for many Nintendo Switch games (this will stop being a free service once NSO launches)
  • Access to a growing library of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games
  • Cloud backups of your Switch’s save data
  • Access to the Nintendo Switch Online app, used for voice chat
  • Special offers
When does Nintendo Switch Online go online?

NSO is available now. You’ll need to update your Switch to 6.0.0. After the update go into the eShop. Nintendo Switch Online is listed on the left near the bottom. You can also download the NES app from the eShop.

Can’t you already play Switch games online for free?

You could, but for many games that stops once NSO is released.

What Switch games will require NSO for multiplayer?

These popular multiplayer games require NSO. This is NOT a complete list.

  • ARMS
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
  • Minecraft
  • Overcooked 2
  • Splatoon 2
  • Super Mario Party
  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate
  • Rocket League

You can check any game for NSO requirements by going to its eShop listing. Scroll down and look for this paragraph. If present, then NSO is required for online multiplayer.

eShop NSO paragrph

Do I need NSO to play Fortnite or Paladins?

No. You can continue to play Fortnite and Paladins without NSO.

What NES games will be available?

NSO will offer these NES games at launch:

  • 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

Additional NES games will be made available every month.

Are game manuals included for the NES games?

Not through the eShop or Switch. Nintendo does have the manuals available here.

Will NES games be on a rotation or permanent library?

All indications are that the library of NES games will remain constant, with new games being added. No rotation of games. But we don’t have a firm source on that.

Will NES games require Internet access?

The NES games will require authentication every 7 days. You can play them offline for up to week. But after that you’ll need to get your Switch online in order to re-authenticate and continue playing.

Will my game save data move to the cloud?

No, it will remain on your Switch. A copy of the data will go to the cloud as a backup. This will happen automatically whenever your Switch is connected to the Internet.

Can I use cloud save to transfer my data to another Switch?

Yes. Sign into your Nintendo account on another Switch and your saved data will download.

What happens to my cloud save data if I let my membership expire?

Nintendo will allow you to recover your cloud saves up to 6 months after your membership expires. You will have to resubscribe to NSO in order to access these cloud saves.

What are the initial special offers?

Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers


You can order a set of Nintendo Entertainment System Controllers. These two NES styled controllers work with the Switch wirelessly to play NES games. They can also be attached to the Switch or Joy-Con Charging Grip to be charged. They’ll cost $59.99 and will ship mid-December.






Splatoon 2 Outfit


With a 12 month membership you’ll receive a download code for exclusive outfits for Splatoon 2. The codes will be emailed in early October.





How much does it cost?

For the United States:

  • 1 Month: $4
  • 3 Months: $8
  • 12 Months: $20
  • Family Plan, 12 Months: $35 (up to 8 Nintendo accounts)

There will be a 7 day free trial available. You can stack up to 3 years at a time.

Can I use Gold Points toward the purchase?


Will I earn Gold Points from the purchase?


Is there an automatic renewal?

Yes. You can disable it in the eShop. Go to your account, then Your Subscriptions. Select Turn Off Automatic Renewal under Nintendo Switch Online.

Can anyone join a Family Plan?

Nintendo has no verification of relations in place, if that is what you mean. Up to 8 Switch owners with Nintendo Accounts can join a single Family Group. But before you join with friends or strangers, be aware of how roles work.

There are roles within a family group:

  • Admin – The person who started the group. Must transfer admin role before leaving the group.
  • General – Default for added members. May leave the group.
  • Parent/Guardian – Set by the admin and must by 18+ years old. Can make any General member a Supervised member and adjust their eShop restrictions. May leave the group.
  • Supervised – Automatically set for anyone 12 years old or younger. Can also be set my Admin or Parent/Guardian. Can have their eShop access restricted. May not leave the group!

If someone tries to make you Supervised you will receive an email asking for confirmation. DO NOT CONFIRM. Otherwise they can prevent you from making purchases on the eShop and you will not be able to leave the Family Group.

Can you change between individual and family memberships?
  • Individual to Family: You can buy a Family Plan, but the remaining time of the ndividual plan is lost.
  • Family to Individual: You cannot buy an individual plan until after you leave the Family Group. Family Group admins cannot leave until they pass the admin role. Supervised members of a Family Group cannot leave it.
  • If you are part of a Family Group, but the admin will not buy NSO you must leave the group to buy your own membership.
Will the family plan work across different regions?

Yes. But NSO benefits are limited to each person’s region.

How can I form a Family Group?

Go to your Nintendo Account and login. Click on Family Group. Enter the email address of whoever you wish to join. They will receive an email asking for confirmation, good for 24 hours. Once they confirm they automatically join the group as a General role. Unless they are 12 or younger, in which case they’ll join as Supervised.

Is NSO membership per console?

No, it is tied to your Nintendo Account. It will follow you as you move your account between consoles.

If you have two Nintendo Accounts sharing one console they both need membership to enjoy its benefits. This is best done by getting the Family Plan.

Where can I buy membership to NSO?

Through the Nintendo eShop you can sign up for the 7-day free trial. You can also purchase 1, 3, and 12 month memberships and the Family Plan membership.

You can buy 3 and 12 month individual memberships from these retailers:

What’s with all the hate for the NSO service?

Some Switch owners are unhappy with the current benefits of NSO.

  • Some Switch games will not use the cloud data save feature. Nintendo states this is to prevent cheating.
    • Splatoon 2
    • Pokémon Let’s Go Evee and Pikachu
    • Dark Souls Remastered
    • Dead Cells
    • FIFA 19
    • NBA 2k19
  • Online multiplayer has been free up until the launch of NSO. People won’t like losing access to free features.
  • There are no improvements for online multiplayer. Most games will continue to use a Peer-to-Peer connection rather than a centralized server. Voice chat still requires a smartphone app instead of working on the console itself.
  • Only NES games are being made available (for now). These are the oldest games in Nintendo’s library. Many can play them already with an NES Classic or via ROMs.
  • The benefits don’t match those available for PlayStation or Xbox.