"This tape wants to self-destruct in five seconds," Jim Phelps in Mission: Impossible (The superior original TV series, not the bland movies). The same could happen to your Nintendo Switch account when upgrading to new hardware. The Nintendo Switch V2 is in stores now, and is differentiated from the original tweaks for better battery life. But, that extra couple of hours of battery life (about 90 minutes in our initial tests) is enough for some people to trade in their original hardware.
Actually getting your games from one to another. The short version is that you log into your Nintendo account from the new Switch, and you're asking for a message. If the answer is yes, you're free to transfer saved data for individual games. If the answer is no, the process is to transfer your full account info and data to the new console.
In either case, you have to wait for the old switch. Why the extreme self-destruct policy? To call some of Nintendo's policies and practices opaque would be an understatement.
If you're doing trade-in or other swap, that involves having both old and new switch consoles together, plugging both in, getting on the same wifi, and then waiting for the process to complete. My colleague Ashley Esqueda did just that, transferring her saves as part of a trade at a retail store. She describes the process (and it's a bit of a hassle) in great detail in this excellent Twitter thread.
We tried it in the relative comfort of the CNET Labs, transferring an entire account from an original Switch to the new V2 Switch.
Here's how it went:
First make sure both Switch systems are updated to the latest system software. Start with your old switch. Go to System Settings> Users> Transfer your user data.
Click through to the Source Console option and hit Continue.
Turn on the new Switch and follow the same path: System Settings> Users> Transfer.
Choose the Target Console option.
From the Sign In option, sign into your Nintendo account.
If both consoles are on the same wifi network, the original switch should see its target, and the data will be transferred.
Note that this user account wants to get out of the original switch, and you'll have to re-download the actual games.
- This is a one-user-at-a-time process, so you'll need to have every user account on your switch Nintendo account login (no, they're not the same, yes it's confusing).
- A switch can currently contain a maximum of eight user accounts.
- Even fully charged, both switch systems needed to be connected to power.
In practice, the process is almost and fairly straightforward. The part that took the longest what re-downloading a game to try out. Once we're done, we'll try to transfer the same account back to the original switch and update this story with any issues or problems.
As a reminder: The new switch can be identified with its red box and unique serial number. It's now sold at online retailers, as listed below. Note that CNET may be a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.