The Nintendo Switch is a popular game console that’s both a handheld tablet that you can use to play games on the go and a device that slides into a docking station for playing games on your TV.
But unlike rival game consoles, Nintendo doesn’t have an online service with features like the option to save your game data to the cloud… at least not yet.
First up, an individual subscription will run about $4 per month, $8 for three months, or $20 per year for folks based in the United States. You can also get a family plan for $35 to cover up to eight different Nintendo Account holders.
Second, the service will be required if you want to save game data to the cloud. Doing that will let you pick up where you left off on another device, which could come in handy if you have multiple Switch consoles or if you lose or break yours and need to buy a replacement.
Third, there will be support for online cooperative or competitive play for some games. This is actually something that’s currently free, but which will require a subscription when the online service launches in September.
Fourth, subscribers will be able to play a bunch of classic games including Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong.
Games will be downloadable so you can play without an internet connection, and Nintendo says 20 of these classic titles will be available at launch. Some of this games will also support co-op multiplayer mode, “pass the controller” options for multiple players that want to cooperate on single-player games, and the ability to watch online as your friends play. There’s also support for voice chat, but that requires installing a smartphone app.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Nintendo will be offering this Netflix-for-old-games feature, the company has no plans to launch a Virtual Console for the Switch.
Virtual Console is the name the company has used for an online store that let users buy NES, SNES, and N64 games to play on a Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS. You didn’t need a subscription to use Virtual Console and just paid for the games you wanted to purchase.
Pricing for the Switch Online service seems reasonably good, but if you were hoping to b able to access a wider library of classic games on your hybrid handheld/living room console, it looks like you’re out of luck… at least officially.
Unofficially, now that it’s possible to jailbreak a Nintendo Switch and get it to run unsigned code, it may just be a matter of time before you can easily install an emulator of your choice to run all sorts of games.