Can You Download Games on a Nintendo Switch?

Yes, here's how to get digital versions of your favorite titles

Nintendo Switch games aren't solely limited to physical versions; you can download digital copies from the Nintendo eShop, as well.

This article explains how to download games on a Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, or Switch (OLED model), and the differences between buying a digital and physical version of a game. 

How to Download Games on a Nintendo Switch

To download games, you'll need to set up a Nintendo account by going to your accounts page on Nintendo's site using a PC, Mac, or smartphone. The process only takes a few minutes, and you can choose to link a payment method to it, including a credit card or PayPal, or choose to top-up your balance with prepaid Nintendo eShop gift cards. 

If setting up an account for a child, remember to set up parental controls, so your child cannot make eShop purchases without your permission. 

Once that's done, head over to the Nintendo eShop on your Nintendo Switch, and you can start downloading or buying games. Some games are free to download, while others require you to pay for them. In either case, the process is simple and merely requires selecting the Download button. 

You may need an additional microSD card to have enough storage to download multiple games to your Nintendo Switch console. 

The Digital Version vs. the Physical Version of a Game

We also break down the pros and cons between a digital version of a game and a physical version. Note that not every game has a physical copy available.

  • The game itself is always the same. Regardless of anything else, the game you buy is the same in either format. 
  • Pricing is different. The Nintendo eShop frequently has sales, thereby reducing the price. Don't expect pricing to be the same for both types of games. 
  • Digital copies require an internet connection. To download a digital game, you'll need to be online to do so. Depending on how you set up your Nintendo Switch account, you may need to be online briefly each time you open the game. A physical copy has no such restrictions and is best if you plan on never going online (or will be offline for an extended time).
  • Digital games take up more space. A physical game only takes up a limited amount of space on your Nintendo Switch console, primarily for updates and save files. You have to install a digital game on the system, which takes up more storage space.
  • There are more digital games. Some games are only released on the Nintendo eShop, meaning you can't buy a physical version. That also means there's far more choice on the Nintendo eShop than in a regular store. 
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