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Nintendo Switch Online is live — here’s how to join

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The barrier to entry is quite low

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Nintendo Switch Online has arrived, meaning the free online gaming that Switch owners have enjoyed since the console’s launch has come to an end. To enjoy the same games online, you’ll need a subscription to the service.

Thankfully, buying into the service doesn’t cost very much, and it will grant you access to more than just online gameplay. You’ll also be able to chat with friends via the Switch Online app, back up your precious game saves to the cloud (though there are a few caveats), and play a growing collection of retro NES games online or with a pal locally. Those games require an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription if you want to keep playing; they’ll be inaccessible if your membership ends.

To prime your Switch console for the online service, you’ll first need to upgrade it to system version 6.0 in system settings. Before you upgrade, ensure that you have the correct Nintendo account linked, as you won’t be able to change it following the update. Then, you’ll need to make sure your Nintendo account is synced up with your Switch. Then, you’re ready to purchase a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online.

Nintendo Switch Online is available at a few different price points once you run through the free one-week trial. Nintendo has added a section to its eShop for people to subscribe to the service, though that’s not the only method for joining.

  • One month will cost $3.99 (available through Nintendo’s eShop)
  • Three months is $7.99 (Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop)
  • One year of service will cost $19.99 (Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop)
  • One year subscription for up to eight Nintendo accounts across multiple Switch consoles will cost $34.99 (available through Nintendo’s eShop)

If you purchase from one of the retailers above, you’ll receive a code to redeem within Nintendo’s eShop.