Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription system that provides access to online gaming for Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, and Nintendo Switch MODEL OLED consoles.
Most games that have online features require a subscription to this service. However, not all games require a subscription.
For example, the game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate requires a subscription in order to play online. The Fortnite game, on the other hand, does not require a subscription for the day online. This is because free-to-play games, like Fortnite, do not require a subscription.
There are two possible subscriptions:
- The Nintendo Switch Online, that is, the basic subscription
- The Nintendo Switch Online + The Additional Set, that is, a subscription that includes additional bonuses that are not in the basic subscription.
Nintendo Switch Online: the basic subscription
The basic subscription allows online gambling for games that have online features. It is not necessary for online play free-to-play games.
The subscription also provides access to:
- A selection of NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) games playable on the Nintendo Switch system.
- Registration of game saves on Nintendo’s servers. When they are saved at Nintendo, it allows them to be shared more easily between consoles, and it ensures that progress is not lost if the console is broken or lost.
- A mobile application that offers additional features for some Nintendo Switch games. This application also offers a voice chat feature with other players who are playing the same game and are in your Nintendo Switch friends list. The app does not allow communication with strangers.
- What Nintendo calls “Special Offers”: access to purchase official Nintendo retro controllers that are only purchasable when a subscription is active; access to download free Pac-Man 99 and Tetris 99 games; access to download bonus content (aesthetics) for Splatoon 2 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons games.
These bonuses are available as long as a basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription is active.
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
The Nintendo Switch Online membership + expansion pack gives access to all the bonuses named in the previous section, in addition to the following bonuses:
- Some Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games playable on the Nintendo Switch system.
- Downloadable content for selected games.
Here is what is available as of April 21, 2022:
- Additional tracks pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Must own the original game to access ( Read the article about it here).
- The Happy Home Paradise expansion for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Must own the original game to access.
Additional Package offerings are subject to change and improvement in the future.
These bonuses are available as long as a Nintendo Switch Online + Additional Set subscription is active.
How to get a subscription
You must either buy a prepaid gift card in a store, or pay on Nintendo’s virtual store with a credit card on the internet, to be able to subscribe for a certain number of months.
Nintendo Switch Online + Additional Set is purchased only in annual format.
If you have a basic subscription and want to get the additional package, Nintendo will offer you a price based on what you have paid so far for the basic subscription.
Here are the base prices for each subscription:
Do I buy a subscription? If so, which one?
Buy the basic subscription if you intend to play online often with paid games. If you often play free-to-play games online, the subscription is not necessary.
Purchase the Nintendo Switch Online + Additional Set if you really intend to take advantage of the bonuses offered by the Additional Set. This implies that you own the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Animal Crossing: New Horizons games, and that you still play these games often.
Don’t buy a Nintendo Switch Online membership if you’re not playing online. It is possible to give the basic subscription a 7-day trial to validate if the service is right for you.
I’m having trouble understanding the difference between a Nintendo Switch Online membership and the Expansion Pack.
These subscriptions should be seen as two packages available for the same service.
- Nintendo Switch Online is the basic package.
- The Nintendo Switch Online +Expansion Pack is the more expensive package that gives bonuses.
My Nintendo Switch Online + Additional Set subscription ended recently. Do I still have access to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Additional Circuit Pass or the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise expansion?
If your Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership ends, you will no longer have access to the additional content offered by the Expansion Pack. In this sense, you will no longer have access to the downloadable content of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Do I need to be connected to the internet in order to access the nintendo Switch Online or add-on bonuses?
All the items listed above all require an internet connection in order to play them.
Can I play with the Happy Home Paradise mode for Animal Crossing or the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Add-on Pass without the Expansion Pack?
Yes, for this you can buy them separately from the Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
What is included in the additional set is accessible to you as long as you pay for the subscription and have access to the internet. If you buy them at full price, outside of Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, they’re yours forever.
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