Nintendo Switch Online – the Switch’s version of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold – launched in September 2018 and is required to play most Switch games online (including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the recent Super Mario Maker 2). It also gives you access to NES games, Tetris 99’s main mode, save data cloud backup, and voice chat via phones. It costs $3.99 USD for a month, $7.99 for three months, $19.99 for a year, and you can get family plans that cost $34.99 (provided there are at least two accounts). Users can also get a seven-day free trial to start.
As of February 2019, PlayStation Plus had 36.3 million members. Microsoft doesn’t report how many people subscribe to Xbox Live Gold specifically, but as of April this year Xbox Live had over 63 million users across multiple platforms. PlayStation 4 still has a considerably higher install base than the Switch, so this statistic is understandable, though it would be nice to know what Microsoft’s numbers are for a closer comparison.
Fact of the matter is, both of the above services offer many more valuable features and games than Switch Online does, and have considerably better base netplay to boot. Even with a bunch of heavy-hitting multiplayer games under their belt, Nintendo still has a lot of work to do before it can really compete on the online front. Nintendo has stated that they are aware of the issues and fan requests for more legacy games, and will continue to work on the service.
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