How to Buy and Download Games on the Nintendo 3DS eShop

Nintendo eShop
Nintendo eShop. Image © Nintendo

If you have a Nintendo 3DS, your gaming experience doesn't end with those little game cards you buy in the store and plug into the back of your system. With the Nintendo eShop, you can take your 3DS online and buy games and apps from the downloadable "DSiWare" library. You can also access the Virtual Console and buy retro Game Boy, Game Boy Color, TurboGrafix, and Game Gear games!

Here's an easy guide that will get you set up and shopping in no time.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How

  1. Turn on your Nintendo 3DS.
  2. Make sure you have a functional Wi-Fi connection. Learn how to set up Wi-Fi on the Nintendo 3DS.
  3. You may need to perform a system update before you can utilize the eShop. Learn how to perform a system update on the Nintendo 3DS.
  4. When your system is updated and you have a functional Wi-Fi connection, click on the Nintendo eShop icon on the 3DS's bottom screen. It looks like a shopping bag.
  5. Once you're in the Nintendo eShop, you can scroll through the menu to browse for the most popular downloads. If you'd like to skip directly to buying retro handheld games, scroll until you see the "Virtual Console" icon and tap it. For other downloadable games, including titles that are digitally distributed via the Nintendo DSi, you can browse the main menu by category, genre, or perform a search.
  6. Select the game you want to purchase. A small profile for the game will pop up. Take note of the price (in USD), the ESRB rating, and the user ratings from previous buyers. Tap on the game's icon to read a paragraph explaining the game and its story.
  1. You can opt to "Add [game] to Your Wish List," which lets you build up a directory of coveted games (you can even message your friends about your Wish List!). If you're ready to purchase the game, simply tap "Tap Here to Purchase."
  2. If necessary, add funds to your Nintendo 3DS account. You can use a credit card for a pre-paid Nintendo 3DS card. Note that the Nintendo eShop does not use Nintendo Points, unlike the virtual shopping channels on the Wii and the Nintendo DSi. Instead, all eShop transactions are done in real monetary denominations. You can add $5, $10, $20, and $50.
  3. A screen will summarize your game purchase. Note that taxes are extra, and that you need to have enough space ("blocks") on your SD card to download the purchase. You can see how many "blocks" a download will take up and how many more remain on your SD card by scrolling the purchase summary with your stylus or by pressing down on the d-pad.
  4. When you're ready, tap "Purchase." Your download will commence; don't turn off the Nintendo 3DS or remove the SD card.
  1. When your download is complete, you can view a receipt or tap "Continue" to keep shopping in the eShop. Otherwise, press the Home button to return to the Nintendo 3DS's main menu.
  2. Your new game will be on a new "shelf" on the bottom screen of your 3DS. Tap the present icon to open up your new game, and enjoy!


  1. Keep in mind that the Nintendo 3DS eShop does not utilize Nintendo Points: All prices are listed in real cash denominations (USD).
  2. If you need to save a Virtual Console game quickly, you can create a "Restore Point" by tapping the bottom screen and bringing up the Virtual Console Menu. Restore Points let you resume a game exactly where you left off.
  3. Virtual Console games do not utilize the Nintendo 3DS's 3D display feature.

What You Need