How the Xbox Network on Nintendo Switch Works

The Microsoft partnership expands your gaming world

The Xbox Network 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 Network on the Switch.

What Is the Xbox Network?

Xbox Network 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 Network 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 Network 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 Network, 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 Network Games Are on Nintendo Switch?

In 2019, Microsoft announced it would bring some Xbox Network 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 Network to save players’ content and enable crossplay between different platforms. For example, because all online Minecraft games are hosted on Xbox Network, 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.

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, has Xbox Network functionality on the Nintendo Switch in the form of online multiplayer and Xbox Achievements.

More Xbox Network 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 Network.

Do I Need Xbox Network on Nintendo Switch?

Xbox Network 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 Network

Due to Xbox Network being an online service, you can’t really get it. Xbox Network 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 Network 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 Network service 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 another 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 2020. Currently, it is in preview mode, in case you want to get a jump on things before the full launch.

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