How Xbox Live on Nintendo Switch Works

The Microsoft partnership expands your gaming world

Green Xbox logo sign.

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The Xbox Live online service may be known by most for powering a variety of features on Microsoft’s family of Xbox consoles and Windows 10 computers, but it also has a growing presence on the Nintendo Switch that's changing the way video games are played.

Here’s what you need to know about Xbox Live on the Switch.

What Is Xbox Live?

Xbox Live is an online service owned and run by Microsoft. It first launched on the original Xbox console in 2002 and was subsequently brought to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

Here are some of the popular features that Xbox Live powers:

  • Online multiplayer games
  • Xbox Achievements
  • The Xbox friends list and messaging service
  • Online voice chat
  • Cloud saves

In addition to enhancing video games on Xbox consoles, Xbox Live also works with a growing number of Xbox-branded Windows 10 titles and some mobile games on iPhone and Android devices, such as Microsoft Solitaire Collection.

Xbox Live Gold, a paid premium version of Xbox Live, is required to take advantage of online multiplayer on an Xbox One console. However, this isn’t needed for playing online on Windows 10, mobile, and the Nintendo Switch.

What Xbox Live Games Are on Nintendo Switch?

In 2019, Microsoft announced it would bring some Xbox Live functionality to the Nintendo Switch in the form of online multiplayer support, Xbox Achievements, and cloud saves.

The popular Minecraft video game, owned by Microsoft, uses Xbox Live to save players’ content and enable crossplay between different platforms. For example, because all online Minecraft games are hosted on Xbox Live, Nintendo Switch gamers can play the same game of Minecraft with friends playing on Windows 10, mobile, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4.

Minecraft video game on Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Mojang/Microsoft

Nintendo Switch owners can also unlock Xbox Achievements for Minecraft while playing on the Nintendo Switch, and will receive in-game notifications for each one they unlock.

Cuphead, a stylish platforming video game, is expected to gain Xbox Live functionality on the Nintendo Switch by the end of 2019 in the form of online multiplayer and Xbox Achievements.

More Xbox Live features for some Nintendo Switch video games are planned. The Xbox game streaming service, Project xCloud, which is expected to come to the Switch, is completely powered by Xbox Live.

Do I Need Xbox Live on Nintendo Switch?

Xbox Live isn’t necessary to enjoy the majority of video games on the Nintendo Switch, but an Xbox account is needed to play Minecraft due to so much of the game requiring online connectivity.

Similar to how an Epic Games account is needed to play Fortnite, Minecraft players need to have an Xbox account.

How to Get Xbox Live

Due to Xbox Live being an online service, you can’t really get it. Xbox Live is simply accessed by certain games and apps, mostly in the background while you play.

On occasion, you will need an Xbox account, though. An Xbox account is completely free and is needed to access some Xbox Live features or video games. Minecraft is one example of a Nintendo Switch video game that needs an Xbox account to play.

You don’t need an Xbox console to have an Xbox account. Remember, the Xbox Live services powers more than just Xbox console games.

The easiest way to make an Xbox account is to create one on the official Xbox website. You can also sign up for one by downloading the free Xbox app on iOS and Android.

You may already have an Xbox account. If you have an account for another Microsoft service like Outlook, Office, or Skype, you can use that login information to sign into an Xbox account. All Microsoft services fall under the same account umbrella.

While it can be tempting to create one Xbox account for the entire family to use, it’s better to give each person their own account. These accounts can stick with each user as they get older and can be used for Outlook and Office services when they’re old enough. Parents can also track individual Xbox accounts using Microsoft’s family parental controls as well.

What Is Project xCloud?

The lines between video game consoles are blurring with the advent of streaming services that allow gamers to stream video games in real-time to a mobile device, computer, or other console.

If you’ve heard of an "Xbox Switch" or a "Nintendo Xbox," you’re likely hearing about Project xCloud, Microsoft’s game streaming service that lets anyone with a strong internet connection stream some Xbox-branded video games on other devices without having to download them.

Project xCloud is expected to launch on the Nintendo Switch in 2019 or 2020.