Nintendo Switch – Account Region, Console Region, Game Region… Huh?
The Nintendo Switch has many regions and for first-time users, and even veterans, it can be confusing as to exactly which region is safe to use, and which region games to buy.
The short answer? Every region is safe, as long as you know your way around the system.
The long answer? Well, this guide is here to let you know exactly how to navigate the Nintendo Switch Console’s region options in delectable detail.
Nintendo Account and Nintendo Switch Console Region:
What’s the difference between your Nintendo ACCOUNT Region and Nintendo Switch CONSOLE Region? Well they work hand in hand. Both needs to be understood to let you fully enjoy the wonders Nintendo has to offer.
Let’s start with the most basic region setting any Switch user will encounter on their first step into the Nintendo Switch world, your CONSOLE Region Settings.
Look familiar? On your first time set-up of the console, you will be asked to select a region to choose from. What the Switch does poorly is not fully explaining what choosing a particular region means, and how it will affect your gaming experience.
Let me explain. Firstly, the regions are pretty clear cut, you have:
The Americas (America)
Australia / New Zealand
(And more recently added) Hong Kong / Taiwan / South Korea
Choosing “The Americas” for example, will set your Nintendo Switch Console region to America.
I know at this point maybe about half of first-time users will go,
“Where’s Singapore?” or “No Asia ah?”
And well, sorry but no, Nintendo did not provide a Singapore region for the Switch.
What many users are afraid of at this stage is choosing the “wrong” region, worried that they’ll get region locked, and that they’ll only be able to purchase physical games from that chosen region. However, that is not the case. The Switch IS NOT region locked, and in fact you can swap your console region ANY TIME YOU WANT.
Furthermore, you don’t need your console to be the same region as your game, to play the game. Your console region can be America for example, and you can still pop in a Japan cartridge and play it no problem.
So what exactly does the Console Region settings affect?
It’s mostly for in-game data. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the temperature could be listed as either oF (when set to the US) or oC (when set to Australia). Changing your console region may also affect the language choices available. And that’s about it, it doesn’t restrict you from playing a game in any way!
Well how about your Nintendo Account region?
For first-time users, you’ll be introduced to the Nintendo Account via set-up. You’ll be asked to “Create New User” and after creating your User, you’ll be prompted to “Link a Nintendo Account”. From there you’ll need to access the internet and set-up your Nintendo Account.
When prompted to key in your region, please select one of the regions previously displayed when choosing your Console Region (e.g. America, Europe, Japan etc). There will be other regions besides this, and you'll even be able to choose Singapore, but please refrain from doing so.
We used America as an example before, so please choose United States in this case. Time Zone doesn’t really matter. Please note, similarly to the Console Region, you will be able to change your Account Region AT ANY TIME. (Barring a few exceptions, which I will mention in a while)
You’re probably wondering why the need to choose one of the aforementioned regions, and what it all affects? Well in short, choosing a region on your Nintendo Account affects your Nintendo eShop, and the eShop only recognises a select few regions. (and sometimes the cities and states located in these regions)
For users unfamiliar with the eShop, it’s an “app” in the Switch Console itself, which you can access and purchase and/or download games from. An internet connection is necessary to access it. You can access the eShop from a web browser as well.
You’ll need to register a Nintendo Account before you can access the eShop, so if you skipped the “Link a Nintendo Account’ step, you won’t be able to access it. To remedy this you'll just need to nagivate to your Switch User settings and link an Account from there.
Furthermore, your Nintendo Account will need to be a recognizable region, so for local users who accidentally selected (or auto-piloted) Singapore as their Nintendo Account Region, you’ll find an error message saying “Nintendo eShop is currently not available in your country/region”.
Upon choosing America as your Account Region, the region of the eShop you will be accessing will be America. The currency will be in USD, and any purchases you make from this eShop will be recorded as US region games.
If you choose Japan as your region the currency will be Yen and the games will be Japan region games and so on. (Although the Japanese eShop is well, entirely in Japanese)
What if I purchase a game from the US store, and change my Account Region to Japan?
You’ll still be able to play the game no problem.
If you delete it and want to re-download it, you don’t need to change your Account Region as well.
What if I want to play my Europe Game online?
You can play your Europe copy of Fifa, NBA, or any game online, even if your eShop region is set to America, or Japan.
So why would I want to change my Account Region (eShop region)?
Well there could be a number of reasons, but we have two really good ones.
Sometimes different eShop regions will run specific promos on games. For example, the US eShop may run <<Fight of Animals>> at USD $7.99, while the other eShop regions will have it at normal price. You could simply change your eShop region to US and hop on over to get the game.
Sometimes certain game releases are region specific as well. The US eShop may get a game that isn’t out yet on other regions. You can change to that region to get a game ahead of your friends!
The other huge reason is DLC, or Downloadable Content.
For example, you purchased a copy of Warriors Orochi 4 – Europe. You heard DLC packs are coming out for the game, and you go to your US eShop store to purchase the DLC packs. When you try to boot up your game, you find that the DLC packs you just purchased are not available in the game!
So what happened?
Sometimes, certain games have DLC packs that are region locked, meaning for the example above, you would have needed to go the Europe eShop store to purchase the DLC packs.
HOWEVER, certain games have region free DLC.
Mainline Nintendo published games (read: Nintendo Originals like Mario, Zelda, etc) tend to have DLC that is region free, meaning you could take a copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – US, go to your Europe eShop store to purchase the DLC, and still have it turn up in the game! Other third-party games (read: Non-Nintendo published games) sometimes have this feature as well.
It’s easy to check, all you need to do is press the “plus” button when selecting your software, go to “Software Information” and click on “Support Information”. For most games, supported regions for that software will be displayed here.
While it’s always good to do some research ahead of time to save you some region hopping, if you are not that tech savvy or are unsure if the game has region free DLC, it’s always safer to stick to your game region when getting DLC.
How do I know which region my game is?
USA: North America
CHT: China / Hong Kong / Taiwan
For physical cartridges, it’s easy to tell as the region will be printed on the cartridge code, and on the case as well.
For digital games as mentioned before, head to the Support Information. A more tedious way of checking is entering an eShop region and checking if that particular game title is labelled “purchased”.
I can’t seem to change my Nintendo Account Region:
So you’ve fully understood the steps, you tried to change your Account Region to Japan to get that Japan-only game, but for some reason you can’t as the region settings are greyed out.
Well, you could check the following:
- Check if you have a Nintendo Network ID linked to your Nintendo Account. If you do have it, unlink it.
- Check if you have Funds in your Nintendo eShop account for your current region. If you do have it, uhhh spend it?
- Check if you are the Parent Account of a Nintendo Online family group, it is possible one of the “child” accounts has funds in their eShop region.
One of these should be the culprit. If you’ve checked and it’s none of these reasons, well, we can’t help you, but possibly reddit can.
Understanding how to navigate the Nintendo Switch Console’s region settings will take some time and effort on your part, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be buying and identifying games from different regions like a pro in no time!
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