Sharing video games with friends has never been easier. In a similar manner to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch actually allows you to share your digital game library with a second system, so another player can enjoy your library without having to purchase all of the games themselves — assuming you’ve followed our step-by-step instructions. It’s not as streamlined as you might hope, but using our method is an effective way of sharing games with friends.
It sounds complicated, but the process isn’t too involved. This tutorial on how to gameshare on your Nintendo Switch can help you share your favorite games, and save your friends a trip to the Nintendo Switch eShop. Before diving in, though, there are a few things you should know about gamesharing on Nintendo Switch.
Before getting started
All you need is a user account, an internet connection, and a digital game you want to share. That sounds simple enough, but there are a few other things you should know before getting started. First, gamesharing only works on digital games. If you have a physical game, you’ll have to pass it off to your friend the old-fashioned way. More important, though, only one player can access the game at any given time. The primary console — presumably your Nintendo Switch — has access to all of the games on that Switch online and offline. The secondary console, the one you’re sharing with, can only access games when connected to the internet.
Essentially, you just need to log in on a different Switch (there are a few more steps, hence the full guide, that we’ve laid out below). Because of that, you’ll be sharing your username and password to your Nintendo account. That includes all of the games registered to your account, of course, but also any credit card information and rewards you have on file. Before starting, make sure you’re comfortable sharing that information with a friend.
1. Purchase the game with your Nintendo account
The first step seems obvious, but it’s imperative that you purchase the Switch game you wish to share on your own Nintendo account. In other words, the account you are normally signed into on your own Switch system. Head over to the eShop like you normally would, buy the game, and then fully download it to the system.
2. De-register your first Switch as your primary console
Next, go to the eShop again and tap your profile picture in the top-right corner. Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and you’ll see an option marked Primary Console. Deactivate this. As long as you are still signed in to your Nintendo account on this console and have an internet connection, you will be able to still access your games.
3. Make the second Switch your new primary console
On the second Nintendo Switch, with which you will be game-sharing, sign in with the same Nintendo account that is used on the first system. Because you’ve already de-registered the first Switch, it will automatically change the second Switch to your primary console. Fully download the game you want to play.
Because this console is now your primary console, it can access the games you’ve purchased. However, if you wish to play online at the same time as the first Switch, you need to sign in to a different Nintendo account on the new primary system. This should be the account you are trying to game share with. If both are online with the same account at the same time, the game will be paused on the first Switch.
4. Log back in on the first Switch
It’s a requirement from Nintendo that non-primary accounts must be connected to the internet in order to access games, so this is something you’ll need to keep in mind from this point forward. Both players can download and play the game, but not at the same time. You will also still be able to download any other games associated with your Nintendo account.
Words of warning
Do not delete your Nintendo Switch user profile from your first Switch system during this process. Doing this will also erase save data stored locally on the machine. If you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership and use the cloud backup system, your saves can still be restored, but a few titles – Pokémon: Let’s Go among them — cannot be backed up online.
You can’t play local cooperative games together using this method. If you wanted an easy way to play a platformer together, you will still have to stick to using one Switch system and a stand or connect it to a television.