Firmware 6.0.0 allows game sharing between Nintendo Switch consoles

Digital games can now be shared between Switchs, but there's a catch.

Nintendo Switch game sharing primary and non-primary
Nintendo Switch firmware 6.0.0 has just been released and not only does it support Nintendo Switch Online features like Cloud saves, it also allow users to play their digital games on multiple Nintendo Switch consoles.

Previously, Nintendo only allowed games downloaded from the eShop to be played on (what was then known as) the “active console”. Only one Nintendo Switch could be registered as the active console and digital games could only be purchased/played on this single device. To play games on another Nintendo Switch, the user would have to deregister the current console and activate the new one, leaving the initial Nintendo Switch unable to use the software.

Thankfully, all this has changed with the 6.0.0 Nintendo Switch system update. The old “active console” system and name has been ditched in favour of a new “primary” and “non-primary” alternative. Nintendo Switch users will still only be able to register a single console as their primary device, but their accounts can also be linked to a second Switch and their digital games played on this non-primary console. As with everything though, there’s always a catch.

Software linked to another Nintendo Account can be played on a non-primary console, but there are a few limitations:

  • A non-primary Nintendo Switch must have an active internet connection to play games linked to the Nintendo Account. Losing connection causes the game to pause until it reconnects.
  • Unlike a primary console which can share its software with all users on the Nintendo Switch, a non-primary console cannot. Digital games on a non-primary Switch can only be played by that specific user.
  • If the Nintendo Account opens or plays a digital game on another console (such as the primary Nintendo Switch), the game being played on the non-primary console will be paused.

It’s clear that the limitation put in place for non-primary consoles have been designed specifically to stop people sharing accounts. The system is most certainly designed for single users who own multiple consoles. However, there does appear to be a workaround.

Games linked to the same Nintendo Account can still be played on two consoles at the same time

Despite their best efforts to avoid it, there does still appear to be a way in which both a primary and non-primary Nintendo Switch can play digital games at the same time. While a non-primary console requires an active internet connection, a primary console does not. See where we’re going with this yet?

In order for Nintendo to detect that a primary console has opened up a digital game (pausing the non-primary device software), the information must be sent to their server. As a primary Nintendo Switch does not require an active internet connection, simply turning off Wi-Fi should allow the non-primary device to continue playing.

The downside to this set-up is that the primary console won’t be able to play online while the non-primary console is in use. Which, if you’re not subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online, isn’t that big of a deal anyway.

A non-primary console still has access to your Nintendo Account and eShop balance

If you were just about just giving your child or buddy access to your digital library, then you might want to think twice. A non-primary account can still access the eShop using your Nintendo Account, purchase games, and download them. Meaning your eShop balance, My Nintendo Gold Points, and linked credit card are all available to be used on the non-primary system.

If you haven’t already set a password to access the Nintendo eShop, then it might be worth adding one fairly soon.