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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Creating a Nintendo Switch Online Family Group

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - We explain family group/membership logistics, and why Nintendo allows it.

Last week, I set aside Nintendo's family groups as worthy of their own article when discussing Nintendo Switch Online. That is because, starting today (May 15), you can set up your own family group!

Nintendo Account add family group member enter the e-mail address
If I know the e-mail address you registered your Nintendo Account with, you can join the family!
Set up a family group here.
To back up a bit, a family group is required to have a family membership plan, which is an alternative to the individual plan for Nintendo Switch Online ($20 for one year for one person). The family membership allows for EIGHT people to be in one plan, for $35 a year. The family group behind the family plan has a group administrator, and either normal members, or parents and children. (Children are supposed to be under 13, but can go up to under 18, and all of their information is handled by their parent/guardian.)

The family group is a very cost-effective way to have multiple people in one plan. I'm a big fan of how they have an eight-member maximum. That's just enough for King Bowser Koopa and all seven of the Koopalings! ...Bowser Jr. shouldn't be playing online anyway.

Why would Nintendo offer such a fantastic value in family memberships compared to individual groups? It's a good deal for them. Consider this:

It's been a common theme over the past couple of financial briefings to Nintendo's investors that they want Nintendo Switch ownership to move from one Nintendo Switch per household to one Nintendo Switch per family. When you have a paid online service with just individual plans, that disincentivises any family wanting to invest in more than one Switch. Nintendo needs to be incentivising multiple Switch purchases, or it won't happen.

A family of four each spending $300 on a Nintendo Switch, each making their own Nintendo Account, with one family membership is a far greater amount of revenue to Nintendo than a family of four spending $300 on one Nintendo Switch, with four individual memberships. What's even more likely is that the family of four with one Switch will only use one Nintendo Account, and thus will only buy one individual membership anyway. (You can set up to eight Nintendo Accounts on one console, but each would have to pay for their own membership if not for the family group.)

Nintendo's big fantasy is not only that each family member buy each Switch for themselves, but they buy their own games. That's why they are incentivising digital purchases over physical purchases — if you buy a game physically, you could pass it around multiple Nintendo Switch consoles (just not concurrently). If you buy a game digitally, it's tied to that Nintendo Account. So if Iggy digitally buys Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on his Switch, and when he isn't playing it I want to play the game on my own Nintendo Switch, I'll have to purchase my own copy because I cannot physically share the game.

I hope that illustrates why Nintendo is doing this family membership deal.

Going back to how a family group actually functions, you can only be a member of one family. That means the Royal Koopa Family family group won't happen, because I am making a family group for KoopaTV instead. While Wendy and I are family members, none of the other KoopaTV staffers are related. Still, we can say we're family and be in a family group. Surely Nintendo saw people “abusing” this as a possible outcome. Why are they allowing it? (As opposed to a physical verification system where you would have to move your Switch next to the group admin Switch and have them link together that way.)

Aside from supporting families that don't have all of their family members living together in one household, binding together close friends creates an interesting dynamic. Since family groups are limited in size, you'll want each of the eight group slots to matter. That means, if you administrate the group, you'll want every member actively using their Nintendo Switch, or you'll regret having them free-ride on your family membership and you'll want to kick them out. That creates a stronger incentive for each member to be actively playing and buying online Switch games than if each had their own individual membership... or no membership at all. It introduces a financial form of peer pressure into each friend group. Family group members, even free-riders, will have a higher customer lifetime value than the alternative. Ultimately, it's profitable to Nintendo.

Over the course of writing this article, Kamek has now joined the KoopaTV family group. (These groups don't actually have names, but I'm calling it that.) Family groups have the kind of management you should expect.

Family group management Nintendo Accounts
As an admin, I can change who is the admin, remove family group members,
and for specific members, I can designate them as parents or as supervised accounts (children).

Everyone still retains their own eShop balance and everything like that. Nothing merges for the family group members (unless you have child accounts), besides the opportunity to take advantage of the $35 per year Nintendo Switch Online family membership. You can freely leave a family group that you have entered, in case you divorce from your family or something.

KoopaTV won't have eight staff members at any time, so that leaves some slots open for other people. Would you like to see (finite-length or we won't be able to offer it year after year) family group membership (and thus access to a Nintendo Switch Online family membership plan) as a possible perk for winning an important KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program round? Just as a reminder, this particular May to June round, Round 20, is an important round with multiple available prizes!

The KoopaTV Family Group won't start right away since other KoopaTV members want to boycott Nintendo Switch Online.
The boycott lasted two weeks, and the family group has formed at the beginning of October 2018.


  1. Now loners who want to sabotage the other Splatfest team by squidbagging the whole match have to pay extra for a family account in order to do so.

    1. Is that because they would make multiple Nintendo Accounts (one main, others to troll) and now would register all of those in the same family rather than pay multiple individual subscriptions?

      Reminder that most of the Splatfests will have already happened by the time it's September 2018. Two year support period!


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