In a similar manner to the Xbox One and PS4, the Nintendo Switch actually allows you to share your digital game library with a second system, so both of you can enjoy the same games simultaneously through one copy. This differs from other forms of game sharing, which can involve simply logging into the same account on multiple systems — leaving one person without the ability to play while the other enjoys their games. With the method we are detailing, you won’t run into this issue.
Below, we’ve outlined how to game share on Nintendo Switch, so you and a friend or family member can both play the same game on separate systems.
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.
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. But you should be able to download and play the same game at the same time as the second Switch. 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.