Nintendo Switch Online launches September 18 - here's what you need to know

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Nintendo's online service for Switch - the aptly-named Nintendo Switch Online - finally has a launch date: September 18. That's right, within a week Nintendo will finally launch its Mario-flavored version of Xbox Live / the PlayStation Network. But what does it come with, and how much does it cost? We've got answers for these questions and more below:

What is Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online is a premium online service, much like Microsoft's Xbox Live or Sony's PlayStation Network. In exchange for a monthly, 3-month, or 12-month fee, you get access to a wide variety of features that utilize your Switch's connection to the internet.

How much does Nintendo Switch Online cost?

There are three options when it comes to paying for Nintendo Switch Online. Paying per month will cost $3.99 / £3.49. Paying for three months will cost $7.99 / $6.99. You can also purchase a year's worth of service for $19.99 / £17.99. As you can see, the more time you buy in advance, the more you save.

What do I get with Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo has a full breakdown on its website, but we'll recap here. In exchange for your subscription, you get access to 20 NES games (with added online play options), full functionality unlocked in the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, and special offers on games and content. Probably the two most important features, however, are cloud save backups and access to online multiplayer.

Do I have to pay for online multiplayer now?

The short answer: yes. The longer answer: sometimes. It's up to each developer and publisher whether or not they want to require a Nintendo Switch Online membership to access online multiplayer so there will be some exceptions, but expect most to do just that - especially when it comes to games made by Nintendo.

Are there any online features I don't need Nintendo Switch Online for?

The Nintendo eShop, friend registration and management, sharing screenshots via social networks like Twitter, system and software updates, and Nintendo Switch News will continue to function as they do now - which is to say, for free.

Do I need multiple Nintendo Switch Online accounts if I have multiple users?

Yes and no. If you have multiple users saved to your Nintendo Switch and want everyone to have access to Nintendo Switch Online, they'll each need an account. However, you  don’thave to pay for everyone separately. Nintendo offers a Family Membership option, only available in 12-month increments, for $34.99 / £31.49. This is cheaper than even two people each buying their own Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions, and can support up to a total of eight people.

Where and how can I buy a Nintendo Switch Online subscription?

Starting September 18, you'll be able to purchase your Nintendo Switch Online sub via the Nintendo eShop, Nintendo.com, or retailers like Amazon and GameStop.

Will there be a Nintendo Switch Online trial option?

Yes! If all of this sounds like something you're not sure of, Nintendo will let you try out its Nintendo Switch Online for free - all you need to do is sign up via the eShop on or after the service launches and you'll get a 7-day trial membership.

Need some more Switch-oriented advice? Check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games for some play suggestions, or the best Switch accessories if you need to beef up your home / handheld hybrid.