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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

After TWO Years, Nintendo Switch Online is Still Unsafe and Anti-Consumer with Auto-Renewal Policies

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I think it's time we try to get some activist energy here, because this is terrible. They don't learn.

Congratulations to Nintendo. There are now over 26 million members for Nintendo Switch Online, and a lot of that has been driven by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. With somewhere around 61.44+ million Nintendo Switch consoles sold, that's a decent attach rate.

And they've managed to get all of these members while having one of the most anti-consumer, unsafe renewal policies. I'll go into detail in the article, but first, I'll note that starting today, Nintendo Switch Online members in the Americas are getting Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Mario's Super Picross, The Peace Keepers, and S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team. In true Nintendo fan fashion, people are happy about getting Donkey Kong Country 2 since it's been on their beg list, but they're upset that there still isn't EarthBound. Also, they're now upset over the lack of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, since Japan just got it. No one was asking for it before then. Americans just want stuff all the other countries have, like Super Famicom Fire Emblem titles and socialised medicine.

Anyway, speaking of other countries, let's talk about the Nintendo Switch Online renewal policies, which Nintendo has been under investigation for in the United Kingdom for almost a year and a half with apparently no public progress. KoopaTV regulars know that the KoopaTV staff are part of one Nintendo Switch Online Family Group that renews every October 1. (And if you win this KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program round, 34, you get to be part of it for a year starting November 1.) You already know that you have to set up automatic renewal by default, and with a credit card/PayPal that's automatically stored. You can turn off automatic renewal right after. But did you know that manual renewal is apparently not a thing? Observe the steps I have to go through to renew the family group membership:

Nintendo Account balance payment methods for automatic renewal credit card PayPal
You can clearly see I have more than enough balance to pay for anything.
My preferred payment method is Funds Only.

Nintendo Switch Online payment method for automatic renewal trying to manually renew
But if I say I want to renew my Nintendo Switch Online subscription, I'm taken to this screen.
There is no way to use my funds to pay the $35 to renew it, and I HAVE to pick credit card or PayPal.
And I HAVE to make it an automatic renewal.

Nintendo Account Switch Online save credit card information mastercard visa
Therefore, I must select one of credit card or PayPal, so I picked credit card.
I don't WANT an automatic renewal, and I really don't want to save any card information with Nintendo.
I just want to renew with the ample funds I already have in my Nintendo Account!

Nintendo Switch Online purchase family membership 12 months
In the end, no money is taken from the card, and the money is all from the Nintendo Account available funds.
The whole purpose of the previous workflow was to force your credit card information to be on file, and force an automatic renewal after having turned it off.
In other words, it was entirely unnecessary in terms of paying for the service, but Nintendo forced it anyway.

After renewing the Nintendo Switch Online membership, I deleted my card information from the system. I'm still not confident that it's truly deleted and not accessible by hackers or something. No cybersecurity professional would endorse this situation.

This isn't a hypothetical situation. Nintendo's databases have ALREADY BEEN ACCESSED by unauthorised parties and 160,000 Nintendo Accounts were involved. Nintendo is obviously aware of that, and yet they continue to demand you save your payment information with them and automatically renew subscriptions. Again, there is no manual renewal option. You auto-renew, or you don't renew at all. (Or get the service to begin with.)

This is the dark side of Nintendo's financial success with Nintendo Switch Online. Offer a substandard service and unsafely exploit and cheat your consumers so they keep paying for it. Obviously, nothing that I've described in this article is intuitive for the average person, and Nintendo doesn't describe the process well or at all, so I can only imagine how others are dealing with it. Customers shouldn't have to go through this. It's complicated and dangerous.

Ludwig probably should leave automatic renewal on, but he doesn't like the idea of Nintendo being automatically entitled to his money. (Even if he kind of has to renew because it's a perk of being part of the KoopaTV staff (which you can also join), even if Ludwig does the vast majority of the work around here.) At some point, the Nintendo Switch will cease to be supported, but Nintendo will probably still make significant profit because of millions of people automatically renewing with their credit cards every year, probably for many years into the next console. Help Ludwig come up with a catchy hashtag in the comments section so KoopaTV can support a campaign for Nintendo to change their exploitative policies.

Ludwig tries Mario's Super Picross thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online update.


  1. It's still bugs me that they automatically enable auto renewal again every time you buy/rebuy a NSO subscription, even when just using the prepaid code cards. I actually came across this article a few years ago looking for a way to turn that off to no avail, and saw a couple other posts similarly over the years until finding out now that it's been done with content.

    1. I'm glad that you've come back to share your thoughts!


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