Nintendo Switch Online: how does Nintendo’s new subscription service compare to PS Plus and Xbox Live?

TODO alt text

Nintendo has lifted the curtain on its upcoming online subscription service for the Nintendo Switch, including details on its release date, price, and what players can expect from the first multiplayer service of its kind for the video game company. 

Nintendo Switch Online will release in September, and owners of the home-portable hybrid console will be able to choose between a number of pricing options when signing up. A full year subscription will cost £18/$20 , but three month and one month packages will be available for £7/$8 and £3.49/$4 respectively. 

This is about half the cost of a year's subscription to Microsoft's Xbox Live (£40/$50), and even more of a deduction compared to Sony's slightly pricier 12 month subscription fee for PS Plus (£50/$60), though both of these services offer slightly more content to justify their higher price. 

For example, Nintendo Switch Online will give subscribers instant access to a digital library of 20 classic NES games, many of which will be playable online for the first time, including Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Ice Climber, and more. Nintendo promises that more will be added to the library, free of charge, as time goes on, but this differs from the free handful of monthly (more modern) games that PS Plus and Xbox Live subscribers are treated to 12 times a year. 

Critically, Nintendo Switch Online will finally let Switch owners backup their game saves to a network cloud storage, which will come as a huge relief to those who have hours worth of data saved on their system and no way to protect it if the console breaks or gets lost.

However, the Switch still doesn't allow users to backup their memory via USB or other means of external storage, which is something that both the PS4 and Xbox One offer free of charge, in addition to their cloud data accessed through the former's subscription service or for no cost at all by latter. This essentially means Nintendo has put a paywall up for those looking to merely protect their game saves, which is where Nintendo Switch Online falls seriously short of its competitors. 

The main bonus that Nintendo Switch Online will provide is, of course, the ability to play the best Nintendo Switch games online, though the fact that players are currently enjoying this luxury for free may mean it feels as though they're having something taken away from them in September, rather than being offered an enticing new subscription service. 

Nintendo also states that the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app will continue to be "used to enhance the online experience for compatible games through voice chat and other features", which is bad news for those who hate using the system's finicky setup for talking to others online (a.k.a. everyone). Here's hoping a new chat system is in the works over at Ninty HQ...

What do you make of Nintendo Switch Online? Will you be subscribing to the service, or will Nintendo have to do a better job to win you over first? Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

Still undecided about Switch? Here are the best Nintendo Switch bundles and a look at the best Nintendo Switch cases.