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Nintendo Switch Online isn't being ditched, says Nintendo

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo Switch Online is, and will continue to be the only way to get access to online functionality on Nintendo Switch games, says Nintendo – despite some brief fear around plans for the paid subscription service.

TechRadar reported yesterday on some ambiguous wording on the official listing pages for the Pokémon Sword and Shield games, set to land on the Switch console in November.

The listings cited "an in-game purchase option for users who do not have a membership" to Nintendo Switch Online, suggesting that some online features like battling and trading could be accessed through a separate payment method that circumvented Nintendo's paid online service.

However, a spokesperson for Nintendo of America has now clarified to us that this in-game option is simply another way to purchase a Nintendo Switch Online subscription while playing the game – giving players the option to buy the functionality they need when they're attempting online gameplay. You can read the comment in full below: 

"As stated on the Game Store pages for the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield games at www.nintendo.com, a Nintendo Switch Online membership is required to use the games’ online features. The games include an in-game option to purchase a Nintendo Switch Online membership for those who do not already have one."

Nintendo Switch Online lives on

When Nintendo Switch Online first launched in 2018, it was hard for many to swallow – given that online functionality had been free in Switch games up until that point.

And while Nintendo released free monthly NES games with a subscription – and recently a load of 20 SNES games – that drip-feed of content has since dried up, and there aren't any regular content drops to look forward to when your bank account is charged each month.

We don't blame Nintendo for being consistent for their pricing model across all their games, but even its low $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 subscription price is increasingly hard to justify without new games arriving in the vein of PS Plus or Xbox Games with Gold.

Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.