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 too. If you're wondering how to download games on a Nintendo Switch, read on as we explain how to do so and what the differences are between buying a digital version of a game and a physical version. 

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 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 is unable to make eShop purchases without your permission. 

Once that's done, simply 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. 

What's the Difference Between a Digital Version of a Game and a Physical Version?

Wondering can you download games on Nintendo Switch Lite? It's an understandable question when the system is the more portable of the two Nintendo Switch consoles, and the one which lends itself best to digital versions of games. Fortunately, you can. We've also got a breakdown of the pros and cons between a digital version of a game and a physical version so you know exactly what the differences are.

  • The game itself is always the same. Regardless of anything else, the game you buy is the same whether you buy it digitally or physically. 
  • Pricing is different. Typically, when a game first launches, it's more expensive on the Nintendo eShop than if you buy a physical copy. However, the Nintendo eShop also 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 your Nintendo Switch account is set up, you may also 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 period of time).
  • Digital games take up more space. A physical game only takes up a limited amount of space on your Nintendo Switch console, mostly for updates and save files. A digital game has to be fully installed 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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