So basically, I think I've really dun goofed here.

After much debate, I finally decided to exchange my old 3DS with the 3DS XL and in my excitement, I didn't actually read up on the fact that if you want to keep your old games from console to console, you need to do a system transfer. To be fair, the store I traded my game in didn't mention this, but I'll try not to place the blame on anyone but myself. Not only have I lost my old games and save, but my account activity with all my ambassador program stuff as well as any eShop games. I'm not asking if there's a way to do it with my old console or a SD card but if there's a way to link to my old account, some settings option I'm not noticing or if I've truly messed up here, I may not have been terribly clear here so I'm more than willing to clarify any point. I've contacted Nintendo support but no response yet.

UPDATE #1: Just contacted Nintendo via telephone and they said there is NO way to do it other than system transfer, so rush to the store it is, not holding much hope though. I even mentioned the rumoured Club Nintendo way of getting it back but they seemed bemused by the idea and said it's more of a rewards scheme or something along those lines than an actual record of games owned.

UPDATE #2: Just went to the store and they said they wiped it, by the sounds of things, pretty much as soon as they got it. Sigh. Think I'll let off some steam by writing a very disappointed email to Nintendo about it. How British of me. Either way, hopefully this has enlightened people at least to make sure they do the system transfer before trading in.

UPDATE #3: Sorry to drag this out even more, but it looks as though my response to my email to Nintendo support actually had a very interesting paragraph:

Please note that formatting the console does not delete your eShop account and download content unless you have created a NNID, providing the retailer has not manually deleted the eShop account your purchases may still be on the console.

So even though the games themselves are gone, the games are still registered to the console in the same vein as Steam. After reading this I headed to the store, asked if I could see my console's eShop Account Activity and (after a 10 minute system update) my past purchases were all there (including my credit card information which is just a bit frightening) so I tried performing a system transfer old for my 3DS XL to rebuff me saying my battery was too low. Seriously. I'm heading there first thing tomorrow and I'll let you all know if this really does resolve everything.

UPDATE #4: Went back in the store today after waiting ~20 minutes for the system transfer, all my previous account activity is now on my new 3DS, happy days! So I guess as long as the store has your old console in, you can prove you traded it in (should the store need to prove it anyways) and they haven't gone as far as to manually delete eShop contents, you can still recover your downloadable games.

  • 6
    I hate to say this but Nintendo has this 'thing' when it comes to user accounts. An account is tied to a console, not a person. you can't have multiple consoles linked to one account, hence why you need to 'System Transfer' an account between systems. I have heard rumors that you might be able to contact Nintendo Support and work through it with them, but I haven't done this myself (and thus I'm not writing it as an answer). Another option is to Rush down to the store and sit there with every preowned console looking for yours (if it hasn't been sent away) and system transfer that way
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:21
  • 4
    That's sad news, considering how much more relaxed other companies and services are (PSN, Steam, etc.) but it is what it is, I shall have to contact support first thing in the morning and see if they can help, after a search from your comment, I've seen if you've registered your old console on Club Nintendo (which luckily I have), they can use that to help get the old stuff back, but I'll update as to how that goes when I do it, otherwise it's a mad rush to the store. Many thanks for the help
    – razzer1
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:34
  • 8
    It's things like this that really make me hate DRM. It never adds value and often causes problems for legitimate users.
    – Basic
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 12:52
  • 2
    You have my deepest condolences. Shame on Nintendo for their lack of insight into the world of pleasing their customers!
    – David M
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 15:13

4 Answers 4


Unfortunately, as you have noted, without the original system to transfer to, you are likely without hope. 3DS titles are tied to console, not to any ID (Nintendo Network ID or otherwise), so without the console, you can't do a whole bunch. If you had the console, you'd be able to do things differently, but as it stands, there isn't much you can do.

There are stories online where people say you can contact Nintendo to get your stuff back, but since Nintendo themselves seem pretty hush on the matter (their website states that you can only do things through transfer), I don't know how lucky you will be. Club Nintendo keeps a sort of record, in a way, so they might be able to help that way.

I would also keep in mind that stores usually wipe any used consoles they receive, so even if you can get to the store, it is not necessarily true that you can even get your stuff back, even if they have your particular console still, as doing a format wipe of the SD card and the system means that your information will also be gone. This prevents the next owner from being able to essentially get free games by downloading what you had already purchased.

  • I don't if its different where you live, but I've owned a preowned Xbox (the first one), PS3, DS and now 3DS, and none of them have been wiped of a previous owner's data. The PS3 even still had the previous person's PSN Store wallet with $20 remaining! Sure, the stores say they wipe them, but they really don't.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 3:27
  • @Robotnik When I traded in my DSi, they wiped it while I was standing there, so it might vary place to place.
    – user11502
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 3:37
  • Yeah I think big operations like GameStop would be very careful in this respect - too easy to get sued.
    – Alan B
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 11:25
  • @AshleyNunn Out of curiosity, what if you accidentally broke your console, does that mean that you'll lose all your purchases that way?
    – pabdulin
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 11:54
  • By having information such as the device's serial#, you may be able to contact Nintendo to do the transfer.
    – user66184
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 12:34

I just called Nintendo about this very same issue and the man I talked to sorted it all out for me in about a matter of 10 minutes. All I had to do was let him know what the serial number of the old 3DS was and what purchases I had made on the eShop. (I assume in order to verify the fact that it was my account that we were working on)

  • 1
    Did you have a Club Nintendo account linked to your old 3DS as well?
    – user8763
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 18:42
  • Answer this man!
    – gotnull
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 3:43

Link your nintendo network id (nnid) to the old one. Once you go on the eshop go to purchases and you can redownload the old 3ds games, but your data will be lost.


You can't because it thinks you're another person (different from the one on the other console).


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