There are so many games available for digital download on the Nintendo Switch, but the library varies depending on where you live. Tons of fun games are only officially available in Japan and Europe, and every now and then a country before other parts of the world get early access to an upcoming global release.
Thankfully, the Nintendo Switch is a region-free console, so you can usually import a boxed copy of a game from Japanese or European retailers, plug it into your Switch, and play with no fuss (language barriers aside, of course). It also means users can access a different region’s eShop to download games, demos, and other content that is exclusive to a specific country – but this is a little more difficult.
To download games from other regions to the Switch, you will need to create a region-specific Nintendo Account that is linked to a separate profile on your system. In some cases, a regional Nintendo Account is even required to play physical copies of imported games or to access DLC and online features or game modes.
This might all sound like a chore, but we’ll walk you through the entire account creation process, show you how to link it to your Switch, and give you tips on how to find and buy games in Japanese and European eShops.
How to create and link a regional Nintendo eShop account
The first step is to create a new Nintendo Account using a browser on your computer, phone or tablet.
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- Go to account.nintendo.com.
- click “Create a Nintendo Account.” (Make sure to use a different email address than your default account.)
- Select the country / region of residence for the eShop you want to access – Japan, Europe, North America, etc.
- Finish creating the account.
Next, you’ll need to create a new user profile on your Switch and use it to link it to the Nintendo account created above.
- Grab your Switch, open the home screen, and go to Settings> Users> Add User.
- Follow the steps to create a new profile.
- Choose “Link a Nintendo Account” when prompted. Sign in with the regional Nintendo account.
- A verification code will be sent to the Nintendo Account email address. Enter the code on your Switch when prompted and the account will be linked.
How to buy and download games from other countries in the Nintendo eShop
After you have set up the regional account and linked it to your switch, you can now access the eShop for your selected country. Simply open the eShop from the Switch’s home screen and then select the correct profile when prompted.
Loading the eShop is easy, but once inside it can get confusing.
The North American, European, and Japanese eShops look and function the same, but the differences in language and currency / price can make browsing, searching, and buying or downloading content more difficult than you might expect – especially in the Japanese store. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate.
First, you can make finding a game easier by changing the keyboard language on your Switch:
- Open the switch’s keyboard (a quick way is to tap or select the search option in the eShop).
- Select or tap the globe icon at the bottom of the keyboard overlay.
- Select the language you want to use for your keyboard.
- You can switch back to English (or any other language) by selecting the globe icon again.
You can now type in another language’s alphabet, and your Switch has predictive text suggestions at the top of the keyboard. Unfortunately, there’s no way to translate the entire Japanese eShop to other languages right on your Switch, but the Google Translate app on your Android device or iPhone does a good job when you really need it.
Even when buying games, the process is the same in every eShop, but your payment methods don’t always work. While you can try adding your credit card information during checkout, not all bank cards will work – and if so, your bank will likely charge a conversion fee for the error.
Another option is to top up your eShop account with gift card balances that you bought from a retailer like Play Asia that sells both Japanese and European eShop Cards. The Play Asia Store pages also contain steps for redeeming the cards in the Switch eShop.
Play games from other regions on Nintendo Switch
Once the game is downloaded to your Switch, you can select it from the home screen or the library screen. Fortunately, you can play eShop games with accounts from any region. So if you want to play a Japan-exclusive demo on your North American Switch profile, you can.
The only exceptions are DLCs linked to the regional account that you used to purchase the game. So if you play a Japanese game with DLC, for example, you can only play the DLC with your Japanese eShop account. The same applies to certain online games that require a region-specific account.
Given the limitations that longtime gamers have faced when importing games from other regions, none of the above should give you a break – a whole world of Switch games is yours.