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How to game share on a Nintendo Switch

Only share games with people you can rely on to do the right thing.
By
December 5, 2022

Nintendo would, of course, love it if everyone who wants to play on the Switch had their own copies of each game. The reality is that gaming can be an expensive hobby, and it’s sometimes more practical to share things between friends. Here’s what you need to know about gamesharing on Nintendo’s platform.

QUICK ANSWER

For sharing downloaded games you'll need to deregister your own Switch as your primary console, and create a new profile on your friend's Switch that's linked to your Nintendo account. Both you and your friend will have to redownload purchased games under that account, and neither of you can play the same game at the same time.

How to game share on a Nintendo Switch

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Curtis Joe / Android Authority

If you have a physical copy of a Switch game, you can simply hand it over. It’s not tied to your Nintendo online account, so the only drawback is that you have to be able to meet your friend in person, both to deliver the game and get it back.

Sharing downloaded games is trickier, but it can be done. Follow these steps:

  • On your Switch, open the Nintendo eShop and select your profile picture, followed by your profile name.
  • Scroll towards the bottom of the screen and select Deregister under a section called Primary Console. You’ll be prompted for login info. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to play games.
  • On your friend’s Switch, navigate to System Settings > Users.
  • Choose Add User.
  • Choose Create New User, and customize your nickname and profile image however you like.
  • When prompted, select Link a Nintendo Account, and enter your own Nintendo account info instead of your friend’s.
  • Download the game(s) your friend wants to play by going into the eShop, selecting your profile picture, then Redownload.
  • Back on your own Switch, launch the Nintendo eShop and log back in. Go to the Redownload menu to recover games you own.

Restrictions

There are some important catches here. First, since each Switch is operating under the same Nintendo account, the other player will have avoid overwriting any cloud saves, and flip back to their own profile when they want to access their personal library.

Second, only one instance of a game can be running at a time. If your friend’s playing Xenogears, in other words, you’ll have to find something else to play. For the same reason, you can’t hop into online multiplayer sessions with your friend, whether it’s Splatoon or Street Fighter.

Third, your friend has to be trustworthy. They can potentially wreak havoc not just with your games, but your Nintendo account, which in extreme scenarios could get you banned — say if your soon-to-be-ex friend starts hurling racist slurs in chat. Only try gamesharing with people you know well.


Read more: Buying a Nintendo Switch? Here’s what else you should buy

FAQs

Some games, like It Takes Two, actually do allow this kind of sharing in limited circumstances. But they’re the exception rather than the rule. Offering free sharing in every situation would put a serious dent in sales.