Ever since the Nintendo Switch was released, Nintendo has been promising an online subscription service.

And although its full launch was delayed several times, Nintendo Switch Online will be with us soon. Very soon, in fact, considering it will be launched next week.

We also know pricing and exactly what your membership fees will get you, so here's everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online.

Do you need Nintendo's online service to play Switch games?

Nintendo Switch Online is the Japanese gaming giant's equivalent to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. It is a paid subscription service that gives you access to online, multiplayer play for many games, plus other benefits and features.

You will need to be a Nintendo Switch Online member to play games online from its launch date. You will still be able to play those games, such as Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, in single-player or local multiplayer but you won't be able to compete against your friends over the internet if you don't have an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

At present, online play on games that support it is free until Nintendo Switch Online is officially available next week.

It is rumoured. but not yet confirmed, that free-to-play games, such as Fortnite and Paladins, will not require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play over the internet, even after the membership scheme has launched.

What is included?

As well as online play, you get several other benefits as part of your Nintendo Switch Online subscription:

Classic NES games

An ever-growing library of Nintendo Entertainment System games will be available to play at no extra cost. There will be 20 at launch and more added regularly.

The launch titles include Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda.

It will effectively turn your Nintendo Switch into a NES Classic Mini.

Cloud saves

You will be able to store your save games in the cloud, in order to back up your progress. That way, if you do have to wipe your Switch for whatever reason or run out of storage, you will still have a back-up you can download at a later date.

There is a catch though; not all games will save to the cloud. Nintendo will block some to "ensure fair play", whatever that means.

Nintendo Switch Online app

The Nintendo Switch Online app is already available for iOS and Android, and offers voice chat and multiplayer hubs for supported games.

Member offers

Deals and offers will be available for members only. We'll find out more after launch.

Release date

Nintendo Switch Online will be available from 19 September 2018. You won't be able to play online games without a subscription from that day on.

You will get a 7-day free trial though, which extends it by an extra week in some fashion.

Pricing

The price of Nintendo Switch Online varies depending on whether you like to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. There will also be family membership which includes up to eight Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions. Each different family member can use the full Nintendo Switch Online privileges on different consoles or even the same Switch.

After the one-week free trial period, a Nintendo Switch Online subscription will cost the following:

Individual membership

1 month (30 days): £3.49, €3.99, $3.99

3 months (90 days): £6.99, €7.99, $7.99

12 months (365 days): £17.99, €19.99, $19.99

Family membership

12 months (365 days): £31.49, €34.99, $34.99

How to get Nintendo Switch Online

We will explain how you can sign up for Nintendo Switch Online closer to launch day. You will need to sign up for a free Nintendo Account, however, and that can be done ahead of time here: my.nintendo.com.