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How to get Nintendo Switch Online for $4.37 a person

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Nintendo Switch Online doesn’t have to be expensive, if you have family

Samit Sarkar/Polygon

Nintendo Switch Online is now available, which means that players no longer have access to free online play for the Nintendo Switch after the free seven-day trial runs out. And be careful: That free trial will turn into the paid subscription automatically if you don’t remember to cancel.

But picking up a subscription to the premium online service doesn’t have to be a difficult, or expensive, proposition. Nintendo offers a $34.99 “family plan” option that allows up to eight people to join the service under a single primary account holder, as well as the standard one-, three- and 12-month plans for individual players.

Here’s how it works: One person signs up for the family plan and becomes the administrator of the family group, and then invites up to seven others to join via email in order to play online. That’s it.

If you decide to split the cost eight ways, a year of the service will only cost $4.37 per person per year, which is a much better price than the standard $19.99 for a year of the individual plan. I was able to purchase the plan and invite a Canadian co-worker into my family, so it seems as if it may not be region-locked.

This won’t even hurt people who want to pre-order the NES controllers.

“Each member of a family membership can order an NES controller, regardless of their age,” Nintendo states on the official FAQ page. “However, it is only available once per Nintendo Account. For example, if someone with an individual membership orders the controller and then joins a family membership, they will not be able to order an additional controller.”

A much better deal

Nintendo’s rules don’t actually say anything about having to be in a literal family or in the same household to take advantage of the family plan, so it seems silly to pay for an individual account when you can sign so many people up for such a lower cost. Here is how Nintendo describes this subscription:

A Nintendo Account family group allows up to 8 Nintendo Account users to connect together into one group.

Family groups can include:

One admin account to manage the grou

General Nintendo Accounts

Supervised Nintendo Accounts (usually for children aged 12 and under)

Parent / guardian accounts to manage Nintendo eShop restrictions for supervised accounts in the group. (Other types of parental controls can be managed on-device and/or via smart device app.)

Part of me thinks setting up a family plan for friends and co-workers to get the price down this low is exploiting the system, but I have yet to find anything in Nintendo’s rules that indicate this isn’t how the system is designed to be used outside of a very strict definition of the word “family. Maybe they it's just using an interpretation of “family” popularized by the Fast and the Furious films, in which the word refers to any group of diverse and multi-talented individuals brought together by circumstance and Coronas, bound by a love deeper than blood.

Yeah, I have the family plan. In that I plan to play Mario Kart with my family, and I absolutely include Vin Diesel in that list.

Update: Nintendo has revised its FAQ to state that more than one person per family account can pre-order the NES controllers. We’ve updated our story to reflect this.