The short answer is – yes, creating and having a Nintendo Account is completely free! But why does that matter, and what can you access for free vs. paid services?
As your gaming buddy, let me walk you through everything a Nintendo Account has to offer, what it allows you to do for free, and when you need to pay for additional services. I‘ve been playing Nintendo games for over 20 years, so I‘ll provide plenty of insider tips!
Do You Really Need a Nintendo Account?
First, let‘s discuss why you need a Nintendo Account in the first place.
To properly experience everything the Nintendo Switch has to offer, an account is essential. Here‘s what an account unlocks:
- Access to the Nintendo eShop – browse, purchase, and play digital games.
- Online multiplayer gaming with friends around the world.
- Cloud backups of your game saves so they are never lost.
- Special offers and discounts only for account members.
- Parental controls to monitor your kids‘ gaming.
- Unlock achievements and earn points with My Nintendo rewards.
According to Nintendo‘s website, over 95 million Nintendo Accounts have been created. So you definitely want to join the club!
While you don‘t absolutely need an account to play single player games offline, you‘d be missing out on a ton of features. Nintendo intentionally designed the system around an account to encourage online engagement.
Plus Nintendo Accounts are free, so why not sign up to enjoy everything the Switch offers?
Creating Your Account is Fast, Simple, and Free
Okay, let‘s get you set up with a new Nintendo Account!
The account creation process is really quick and only takes a few minutes.
You can sign-up on Nintendo‘s website, a mobile app, or even directly on your Switch. Just provide basic details like:
- Email address
Nintendo will also ask you to provide payment info by linking a credit card or PayPal account. Don‘t worry, this is only to confirm your age and identity – you won‘t get automatically charged for anything. We‘ll cover this later.
Once your details are entered, just agree to the basic terms of service and you are good to go!
See how fast and easy that was? The whole process is totally free too – Nintendo does not charge any type of account creation or maintenance fee.
You now have a shiny new Nintendo Account ready for action!
Okay, So What Can I Actually Access for Free?
Now that you‘ve created your free account, here‘s an overview of what you can access with no extra charges:
- Browse and search the eShop game store
- View game trailers, screenshots, and info
- Download free game demos
- Download free apps like YouTube or Hulu
- Redeem eShop gift cards and promo codes
- Receive promotional emails from Nintendo
Basic Account Management:
- Review purchase history
- Change account settings
- Customize user profile
- Enable two-factor authentication for security
Limited Online Multiplayer Gaming:
- Play free-to-play games like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Apex Legends online
- Chat with friends using a free Nintendo mobile app
My Nintendo Rewards Program:
- Earn Gold Points when you make purchases
- Redeem Gold Points for eShop discounts
- Unlock Platinum Points to get free downloadable content
- Play any games you own offline solo without restrictions
- Share digital game licenses across multiple Nintendo Switch systems
As you can see, you get access to a ton of great functionality at no cost simply by having a Nintendo Account!
What Features Require a Paid Subscription?
Now let‘s talk about the premium services that require an additional paid subscription with your Nintendo Account.
Nintendo Switch Online
This gives you:
- Online multiplayer gaming
- Cloud save data backups
- Access to classic NES and SNES games
- Special offers like free game trials
- Voice chat on the mobile app
- $3.99 monthly
- $7.99 for 3 months
- $19.99 annually
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
This upgraded service adds:
- Classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise DLC
- $49.99 annually
So while the account itself is free, you have to pay if you want to play games online, back up your saves, and access older classic titles.
How Does Nintendo Account Pricing Compare to Other Platforms?
Here‘s a pricing comparison table to see how Nintendo‘s paid offerings stack up against Xbox and PlayStation:
|Online Gaming Subscription||$3.99 monthly or $19.99 annually||$9.99 monthly or $59.99 annually||$9.99 monthly or $59.99 annually|
|Expanded Subscription With Classics Games||$49.99 annually||Xbox Game Pass $9.99 monthly||PlayStation Plus Premium $17.99 monthly|
|Free Games Each Month||NES and SNES games||Typically 4 games||Typically 3 games|
|Cloud Storage||Yes||No||Yes (time limited)|
|Free-to-Play Online Play||Yes||No||No|
|Loyalty Rewards Program||Yes||Limited||Yes|
As you can see, Nintendo comes in at the lowest pricing in most categories. Sony and Microsoft charge twice as much for their basic online gaming subscriptions.
Nintendo is clearly trying to provide the most value for families and budget-conscious gamers. While PlayStation and Xbox nickel and dime you for every feature, a Nintendo Account delivers online gaming and entertainment at very affordable rates.
Any Other Costs to Be Aware of?
The only other charges you may encounter with your Nintendo Account are:
Nintendo eShop Game Purchases
- You have to pay to purchase any full games, DLC, season passes, etc. Prices vary by title.
- Some free-to-play games include optional in-game transactions, like cosmetic skins in Fortnite or Pokemon Unite.
Paid Mobile Apps
- Mobile games like Mario Kart Tour have additional purchases to unlock characters and bonuses. These are 100% optional though.
Outside of the eShop and mobile in-app purchases, the two subscriptions above are the only extra costs associated with a Nintendo Account. And as we discussed, Nintendo offers a lot of bang-for-your-buck!
Tips to Save Money and Maximize Value
If you want to maximize your savings with a Nintendo Account, here are my top money-saving tips:
🔸 Only subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online during months you‘ll play online regularly. You can turn auto-renew off to avoid accidental charges during off-months.
🔸 Buy an annual membership which averages to only $1.67 per month, compared to $3.99 monthly. Go family plan if you have multiple Switch systems to share the cost.
🔸 Only upgrade to the Expansion Pack if you really want to play N64 or Genesis games. Stick to the base plan otherwise.
🔸 Check the eShop for free demos of new games before buying. Try before you buy!
🔸 Enable two-factor authentication for your account to earn free eShop points you can spend on discounts.
🔸 Participate in My Nintendo rewards to earn points for free eShop content.
🔸 Add friends and check your play activity to earn additional Gold Points over time.
Follow these tips and you can maximize the value you get from your Nintendo Account while minimizing costs!
Don‘t Forget to Enable Parental Controls
If you plan to create Nintendo Accounts for your kids, be sure to enable parental controls too! This allows you to:
- Set spending limits on eShop purchases.
- Restrict mature game content by age rating.
- Limit online communication with strangers.
- Monitor gameplay time.
You can even restrict purchases entirely so you have complete control over what games they can access.
Parental controls are free and give every parent peace of mind (and avoid surprise credit card charges!).
A Nintendo Account unlocks online gaming, cloud saves, eShop discounts and more.
Creating an account is completely free – no strings attached!
You can access tons of basic features without paying anything.
A Nintendo Switch Online subscription is needed for online multiplayer and classic games.
Compared to Xbox and PlayStation, Nintendo offers the most affordable online gaming option.
As a life-long Nintendo and Switch fan myself, I highly recommend creating a Nintendo Account. It really enhances your gaming experience.
Nintendo allows you to do so much for free, and pays for itself by enabling online play with friends around the world.
Sign up today to start your free account, earn rewards, and access the Nintendo eShop deals! Let me know if you have any other questions – happy gaming!