What to KnowNintendo Switch digital purchases are tied to your Nintendo account, not the Switch you buy them on.To share digital games between two Switches, your Nintendo account needs to be on both consoles.You can freely share Switch game cards, but you can only play when the card is physically in your console.
This article explains how to use Nintendo Switch game sharing, which allows you to buy a game once and install it on multiple consoles. These instructions pertain to both the original Switch and the Switch Lite.
How to Use Nintendo Switch Game Sharing
To enable game sharing, you need to sign into two Switches with one Nintendo account. It has to be the Nintendo account you use to buy and register your digital games. Once you're signed in to both, you'll be able to download and play your eShop purchases on both devices.
Here's how to get up and running with game sharing on your Nintendo Switch:
On your primary Switch, make sure you are logged into the Nintendo account which has the games you want to share. Now open the Nintendo eShop.
Select the profile associated with your Nintendo account which has games to share.
Select your profile icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
Press right on the d-pad, and scroll down to the Primary Console section.
Turn on the Switch you want to share games with, and select System Settings.
Select Add User.
Select Create New User.
Choose an icon.
Create a nickname.
Select Link a Nintendo Account.
Select Sign in using an e-mail address or sign-in ID to use your Nintendo account credentials.
Enter your Nintendo account login credentials and select Sign in.
Since you deregistered your account from your other Switch, this is now your primary Switch, and you can download all of your games. As long as you leave this as your primary Switch, the other profiles on the same device will be able to play your games.
To return things to normal, perform steps 1-5 using the second Switch to deregister it as your primary console. Then go back to your original Switch, and perform steps 1-5 but select Register to make that console your primary again. If you do that, then people who use the secondary Switch will need to use your profile to play your games.
What Is Nintendo Switch Game Sharing?
Game sharing is the process of sharing one game between multiple people. If you have a physical copy of the game, sharing is a simple matter of handing the game to a friend. They can play the game on their system and then return it to you later. Sharing games purchased digitally is a different matter, as they're usually locked to hardware or an account, and there's no physical component to hand over.
Nintendo Switch game sharing takes advantage of the way games you buy or register in the Nintendo eShop are tied to your Nintendo account and the fact you can put your Nintendo account on more than one Switch console. That means if you sign into two Switches with one Nintendo account, you can play your digital games on both devices.
Drawbacks and Dangers of Using Nintendo Switch Game Sharing
Since game purchases are tied to your Nintendo account, logging into a second Switch allows you to download all of your games to that device. Just open up the eShop, select the profile associated with your Nintendo account, and download any game you've purchased or registered in the past.
When you share a Switch game, you're essentially just placing your Nintendo account on the second Switch. That means you should only do this with people you trust, as they'll have access to your account.
The other main issue with game sharing is that primary and secondary consoles have different permissions. The primary console can play games whether or not it's connected to the internet, while the secondary console can only play your games if it's connected to the internet. Also, you can't play the same game, at the same time, with the same profile. If you attempt to, the game will pause on the first console when you start it up on the second one.
You can play multiplayer games together online, but only if you follow a specific procedure:
Follow the procedure provided above to share games between two Switch consoles.
Purchase a game, and download it to both consoles.
On the primary Switch, sign in to a profile other than the one that purchased the game.
Any profile can play any game on the primary switch, but not on the secondary one.
On the secondary Switch, sign in to the profile that purchased the game.
This only works for online multiplayer, not local multiplayer. Both accounts need to have Nintendo Online, so this works well with the Nintendo Online family plan.