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Second-hand games for the Nintendo Switch are quite…dangerous?

It will soon become a lot more dangerous to buy used Nintendo Switch games. With a new device, it’s easier than ever for people to copy Switch games, and Nintendo may block your Switch as punishment.

The used market is a Valhalla for any game lover. You score good games there inexpensively. Especially for Nintendo Switch players, second-hand deals are ideal, since the Japanese company rarely lowers the prices of games.

Still, it might not be such a good idea in the future. It becomes a lot easier for malicious people to make copies of games. That may sound like an ideal way to score games cheaply, but it certainly isn’t. It’s illegal and you have the chance of Nintendo blocking your Switch, leaving you with nothing on your console.

Why can used Nintendo Switch games be blocked?

ROMs and emulators have been a problem for Nintendo for years. The company regularly files multi-million dollar claims against creators for enabling piracy in these ways.

However, these ROMs were not exact replicas. They did not have a (digital) certificate of authenticity. As a result, you can’t claim Nintendo points that you normally get with a new game, for example. Each legal game cartridge has a unique number that guarantees authenticity. Therefore, it was impossible to play them via a cardrigde because they could not be counterfeited.

These games from Nintendo everyone has forgotten aboutMamma mia! (Image: Nintendo/Universal)

But now there is the MiG Switch Card, This is a special flash card cartridge designed to work on all Nintendo Switch models. Into this you insert a microSD card and games can therefore be played directly on the device.

Putting those games on an SD card, in turn, can be done with a so-called Switch Dumper, a device that can put ROMs on the card.

Now, however, it is possible to make exact copies of games, including the Nintendo certificate. That has everything to do with an ESP-32 microcontroller, which costs less than $10 and has a special chip that can be reprogrammed.

Nintendo cracking down on copy players

Perhaps you are now counting yourself rich, that you can play pirated copies cheaply, but you will be deceived. Nintendo can recognize this simply because a Switch connects to the Internet and thus to Nintendo’s servers.

These are the best accessories to buy for the Nintendo SwitchSwitch! (Image: Matthew Hamilton)

And so therein lies the danger. Your used Nintendo Switch game may have been used as the copy from which a game was copied. This then has exactly the same unique number as (tig) other players, making it no longer unique. Of course, Nintendo can also see this and with that it can take action.

Indeed, Nintendo has proven this in the past. The company has already cracked down on people who play on ROMs and had their Internet connection on. The Japanese company blocked their Switch and so they had nothing left on their device and their copies.

But what if you are unintentionally victimized?

OK, that’s a case of own fault, own fault. With people who buy a used Nintendo Switch game in good faith, however, that’s not the case. If you buy a Nintendo Switch that turns out to be cloned, the Japanese company could potentially see you as using an illegal copy and thus block your Switch.

This could also happen, for example, if you lend a Nintendo Switch game to a friend or acquaintance. He too could just make a copy with the new hardware, inadvertently making you the fall guy.


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So it will be careful if you buy a used game. Next thing you know, Nintendo sees two players playing at the same time with a game that has the same unique code. You’re screwed. Even at reliable stores that sell used games, it can just happen. They don’t know what happened to a game before. So beware!

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