How to find the best deals on Switch games in the Nintendo eShop
If you’re like us, you’ve already spent two wonderful years with your Nintendo Switch, and the honeymoon phase is not in sight. Although you are probably spending far too much time trying to win a round of Tetris 99 Right now, between Nintendo’s first-party classics and the eShop’s vast catalog of famous indie titles, there’s always something new to play. This endless supply, however, can have an impact on finances, especially when the same Gaming is often more expensive on Switch than on PC and other consoles. But there is a way to save a few bucks here and there by buying games at their best price, and getting your money to go further is to just shop around.
The prices of games in Nintendo eShop can vary significantly from country to country. Sometimes it’s because there are sales in certain regions, and other times the games are just cheaper by default. For example, at the time of writing, Hollow Knight is $ 15 in the US, but the equivalent of $ 7.66 in the Mexico eShop, almost half the price.
The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re interested in pinching a dime is bookmark this website, which keeps track of the price of each game in each regional eShop. It’s not exactly pretty, but you can set the table to show prices in your preferred currency, search for specific titles, and see at a glance where the games are cheapest (and most expensive).
Multiple Nintendo Accounts are your friend
To take advantage of cheaper eShop prices in other regions, you need a Nintendo Account for each region. Operating the global market is not without speed bumps, you see, but luckily creating a new account only takes a few minutes at most. Naturally, the most important field of the web form is “Country / region of residence”. This dictates the location of the eShop you will visit when you eventually add the new account to your Switch.
Potentially, the biggest downside with multiple accounts is that you need a unique email address for each one. This is just not a problem with Gmail addresses, so you might want to get one specifically to manage your additional Switch accounts if you aren’t already using Gmail.
Without going into too much detail, the way Google manages its email domains means that one address can be more than one. Google ignores the dots and + suffixes before the @, and the gmail / googlemail queues are interchangeable. Let’s say your email address is [email protected] These are just a few examples of modifiers you can use to register new Nintendo Accounts without having to juggle separate inboxes:
You can riff on these rules (or the lack of them) at your leisure – be sure to note which email address is linked to which region (country suffixes are good, handy reminders). Another pro tip is to create a few Nintendo Accounts at once. Even if you register one in Canada to buy a specific game, you might want to create a Japanese account while you’re there, as the online store prices in that region are consistently lower than others.
There is a way to skip this step completely by changing the region on your main account. It is not recommended, however. To get started, you must have an empty eShop wallet (zero funds) to change regions. That might not be a problem now, but if you end up using gift cards in another region, and you could, you might be stuck with some leftover change that you can’t spend. And being locked into a single regional eShop is what we’re trying to avoid here.
So when you have a new registered and verified Nintendo Account, you need to go to your Switch, go to the system settings menu, and add a new user. For the sake of simplicity, call this user “Germany” or “Japan” or whatever, as the next step is to link a country specific Nintendo Account to this newly created profile. Once all this is done, There ! The next time you head to Nintendo eShop, the profile you choose will determine which country-specific storefront you enter.
It’s worth mentioning here that we’re only using these new accounts to buy games. Once they’re downloaded to your Switch, there’s nothing stopping you from playing them with your primary account. This means that your friends list remains intact and online features will work without a hitch, if you have a Nintendo Switch Online membership associated with your main profile.
Paying is the hardest part
We are now ready to close these deals … sort of. The next hurdle to overcome is to find a way to pay. As Nintendo explains, âCredit cards issued by your region will not work in another region’s eShop. This doesn’t seem to be as clear as it sounds, however. There are many Reddit threads and forum posts where people claim to have purchased from overseas eShops using their locally issued debit or credit cards. Some PayPal accounts work, some don’t. A payment method that was previously cleared is now rejected, and so on.
There is nothing wrong with verifying if a card or PayPal account is viable. In the worst case: it is rejected. You can also set up a new region-specific PayPal account in the eShop using a bogus address, but how you want to get involved is up to you. The only saving grace of going through the fun of registering additional Nintendo Accounts and PayPal accounts mean you only have to do it once.
Perhaps the easiest option is to use gift cards, but this method of payment is somewhat limiting. They are only available in a handful of currencies – there are no South African Rand gift cards, for example – which means that few online stores allow you to add funds this way. Some of the more trusted sites for international gift cards include Play-Asia and OffGamers, PC Game Supply for North American currencies, and Japan Code Supply for yen cards in particular.
A quick Google search will bring up other sites selling gift cards, sure, but you’re a little lonely here. Some of them are relatively lo-fi – in other words, suspicious in appearance – so common sense is king here. Also, keep in mind a few basic rules:
1) Make sure you are purchasing codes that ship immediately, not actual physical gift cards. It should be relatively clear but recheck anyway.
2) Ignore the obsolete language in the lists. Many product pages will use stock descriptions like “this can only be used for purchases on 3DS and Wii U”. EShop money is eShop money and can be used for Switch purchases.
3) If you buy gift cards in US dollars and are asked to enter a zip code, Google one for a state that doesn’t charge retail sales tax to get the best price (for example, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire or Oregon).
4) Remember to check the exchange rate if, for example, you are paying for a Japanese yen gift card in US dollars. If the retailer adds a large margin, it will reduce the savings you were hoping to achieve.
5) The same problem can apply to paying for a gift card in a foreign currency. Make sure your bank won’t cancel any savings with transaction fees.
There are other potential pitfalls to using alien eShops that should be taken into account. Some games may not support your language, especially those released specifically for the Japanese market (this information will be available in the online store listing). You’ll also split your Nintendo Gold Point rewards across different accounts, for example, so you don’t accumulate them significantly.
Are you going to end up with gift card credit that you are unlikely to use in the future? Will the savings you save be significant over the life of the console? In other words, the equation of value is not just about price.
Another question you need to ask yourself is whether you are ethically comfortable with playing the system in this way. Some claim that by using foreign online stores you are not fairly rewarding developers for their work. Also, games are sometimes cheaper in some areas to make them affordable for locals. In the long run, you could be partly responsible for the price hike if a developer finds out that everyone is using fake accounts to get cheap games.
That said, there is nothing inherently devious about shopping. You like what the Switch has to offer, you want more, and you want to be smart about how you spend your money. Or maybe you are really excited about a game that hasn’t released in your area yet.
When the time is right
However, getting the most out of your Switch isn’t just about finding the best price all the time. Timing is also important. Beyond official events like the Switch summer sales, there is a constant number of limited time discounts that differ between eShops. You might want to dig it yourself, but there are plenty of resources to help you keep track.
The NintendoSwitchDeals subreddit publishes a good table of popular games and the eShops they are for sale in. The best price-tracking site eShop has a comprehensive list of items for sale in every region, and DekuDeals pulls in digital and physical copy prices around the world.
take advantage as it lasts
Several years ago, changing your region in Steam to buy games at lower prices was straightforward. Now, that’s impossible without using a VPN to spoof your location. Gaming giveaways were another popular way to move purchases between accounts and across digital borders, but Valve put a stop to that in 2014 by introducing regional lockdown.
How long these similar vulnerabilities will remain open on the Switch, then anyone can guess. While there is nothing legally questionable about shopping, Nintendo may make the process more cumbersome than it already is, or prices could start to normalize globally. For now, however, good bargain hunting.
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