Nintendo Switch's paid online service gives you one NES or SNES game a month, then takes it back

Subscribers get discounts on select digital games, but freebies might be temporary.


Following Nintendo's Switch reveal presentation last night, more details of the company's online service have emerged.

Like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, Switch's service charges a fee. This service won't go online until this fall; a free trial for Nintendo Account holders will take its place in the interim.

Subscribers are privy to perks like discounts on certain digital games, and one free NES or SNES game per month. However, if Nintendo's phrasing can be taken at face value, subscribers lose access to that free game the next month.

"Subscribers will get to download and play a Nintendo Entertainment System or Super Nintendo Entertainment System game (with newly-added online play) for free for a month," according to Nintendo's website.

That's a far cry from Xbox Live Gold and PS Plus, both of which offer more modern titles that players keep so long as they remain subscribed to the service.

Nintendo did not explicitly mention a Virtual Console-type service for Switch during its presentation. While it's likely the service will return—it's existed in some form since its debut on the Wii in 2006—as of right now no one knows if there will be a way to purchase classic titles.

The news isn't all bad. Nintendo's press release mentions online multiplayer for NES and SNES games, which would breathe new life into moldy-oldies like Capcom's original Street Fighter 2 (1992), an exclusive for SNES and a major coup for Nintendo during the "16-bit wars" against Sega.

A full breakdown of features available to subscribers can be found below. Nintendo Switch will retail for $299.99 when it launches on March 3.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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From The Chatty
    • reply
      January 13, 2017 5:20 AM

      That's gotta be a mistake in messaging or translations, right? They wouldn't really think it's even remotely appropriate to be offering games literally only during that specific month when the other two services don't work that way.

      Especially if we're just talking about fucking NES/SNES games.

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        January 13, 2017 5:21 AM


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        January 13, 2017 5:27 AM

        Well, IDK. How long do you think you'd actually play a retro game? I've collected a bunch of the Sega Genesis stuff on Steam, and I've put maybe 15min into a few of them; even a few of the classics like SoR that I was really looking forward to. In that light, why bother owning it?

        Then again, hopefully you'll get some kind of permanent 50% discount (hahahaha) to purchase that game the month it's free (not really, this is Nintendo - though they do have deals).

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          January 13, 2017 5:44 AM


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          January 13, 2017 5:49 AM

          It depends on the game. I'd happily play my favorite NES and SNES games randomly beyond a "free month" though. Hell, half the time, I don't get around to trying out PS+ games until months after they're free.

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            January 13, 2017 6:05 AM

            Just like our Steam backlog! ;)

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      January 13, 2017 5:47 AM

      While they definitely need to clarify the free game thing, I am even more interested in clarification for the online functionality. While I always prefer old games on original hardware, I might actually pick up a few Virtual Console titles for online play.

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        January 13, 2017 5:51 AM

        In particular, I want clarification on whether online play online works for subscribers and for free monthly games, or if I'll be able to play classic games online if I buy them. I'd go on a spending spree if I could guarantee online functionality for oldies but goodies like SF2.

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          January 13, 2017 6:08 AM

          Probably a given that only some of the old games will be refitted for online play. I assume it would be easiest to do a virtual lobby for matchmaking and then just shove you both into the game and let the emulator manage the connectivity; instead of reworking the game code to handle it all.

          A thought just hit me, given that Nintendo just did the NES Classic, this might get them to explore doing a second one. And, it could mean we might get those filters in the VC.

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