Nintendo just released an online FAQ page with updated information about their Nintendo Switch Online service. After a rather vague description that was released on Nintendo Direct, a much more detailed page was created to make some necessary clarifications. But the wording is still subject to interpretation.
For starters, it turns out that players will lose their cloud saves if they choose not to renew their Switch Online subscription. While some games, like NES games, will be available offline, there will be an online check-in with a frequency of once per week. This seems to be required or else access will be blocked to the game. A “check-in” is possibly required in order to preserve this data.
Compared with other consoles, cloud saves on Xbox One are completely free. PS4 requires a PS Plus subscription but players have half a year for players to access it should they choose to subscribe again within that grace period. The Switch seems to be the worst of the bunch- it costs cash to save to the cloud and possibly has no grace period.
After my Nintendo Switch Online membership expires, will my online save data and my Nintendo Entertainment System™ – Nintendo Switch Online data be erased?
Save data stored via the Save Data Cloud backup is available for as long as you have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership.
Can NES – Nintendo Switch Online games be played offline?
Yes, these games can be played offline for up to 7 days as long as you have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership.
As for classic NES games, the FAQ states that players will have offline access to the classic titles for seven days if the subscription is active. But doesn’t clarify on what exactly will be required- a check-in? However, data will be saved locally unless the user chooses to do so manually. An online subscription is still required in order to play the games.