A friend lent me his copy of Mario + Rabbids to play on my own Switch. I ended up enjoying it a lot and I want to buy my own copy, but I don't want to lose my progress.

If I buy a separate physical or digital copy of a game, will I still be able to play with my save file?

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    Without trying to discount the validity of your question, I've never come across a game where the save file is unique to the current installation of the game. It would cost effort to implement this behavior, and I can't think of a discernible benefit to it. If anyone has examples of this occurring, I'm interested :) – Flater Nov 9 '17 at 13:33
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    It's possible that the poster is old enough to have played the first few generations of consoles, where save files were on the cartridge itself, rather than the system. Back in the old days, we didn't have any persistent memory in the system itself, and the game itself held the save files. You lose your copy of the game, you lose your saves. – Tal Nov 9 '17 at 13:53
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    @Tal I haven't actually used any cartridge-based consoles where the save file wasn't stored on the cartridge other than the switch, but thank you for reminding me that apparently I'm part of "the old days" ;) – Broneironaut Nov 9 '17 at 14:28
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    @Tal It's nothing to do with age. Many 3DS games, such as pokemon, store their save files on the cartridge itself. – Pyritie Nov 9 '17 at 15:11


From Nintendo directly:

Where is game save data Stored?

  • On Nintendo Switch, game save data is stored on the console’s System Memory. This will not change whether downloadable software or software from a game card is being played.

  • Game save data cannot be saved or copied to a microSD card.

Can save data be used between physical and digital games on Nintendo Switch?

  • Save data is stored in the System Memory, and for the most part, it is associated to the individual user. So long as the same user is selected on the console, the save data will not be impacted whether the software is played from a game card or downloaded from the Nintendo eShop.
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    It's almost as if the company realized that lending games is a great way to increase sales and they want to help facilitate that... – corsiKa Nov 10 '17 at 6:06
  • Does this mean if for some reason, a console went broken, there is no way to continue your save on another console? – Puck Nov 10 '17 at 8:53
  • @Puck I think that's worth asking a new question about – Pyritie Nov 10 '17 at 10:20
  • @Puck unless Nintendo starts offering cloud saves, it seems this is the case. – Kip Nov 19 '17 at 20:44
  • @Puck as of now, nintendo has released a cloud service that stores your save files. so you can get them back on another switch afterwards. the only upset is that you have to pay an online subscription for it – Felipe Skinner Feb 6 '19 at 15:44

Yes. Switch cartridges are read-only, your saves are stored on the system.

  • Is that really true? I haven't been able to find a reliable source to that. Also how would Pokemon work now? There hasn't been a single pokemon game that didn't have your save tied to the cart? Unless you had a digital download of course. – LateralTerminal Nov 9 '17 at 15:31
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    @LateralTerminal It's apparent by looking at how the system handles files for games. All patches and DLC go to the internal storage or SD card, as do the saves. I doubt a Pokemon game will be any different, unless there's a history of it handling saves differently from other games in the past. – Logarr Nov 9 '17 at 15:41
  • @Logarr The only game that didn't save directly to the media was Pokemon Colosseum and XD for GameCube. Well it used a DVD not a cart so how would it.. It saved to the Memory Card and it was one of those saves you can't copy. However, I don't really consider Colosseum to be a real Pokemon game. So yes, it would be a first for the series. Especially a first for the hand held games – LateralTerminal Nov 9 '17 at 15:46
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    @LateralTerminal Then consider that this is the first time a main series Pokemon is released on a console where cartridge saving isn't the norm for the console. GameBoy, GBC, GBA, DS and 3DS all had save files on the cartridge. So it's not something special to the Pokemon games themselves, but rather a byproduct of the consoles they have been released on. – Arthur Nov 10 '17 at 7:17

I spoke with a representative from Nintendo, and no, the data will not be saved; you'd essentially be starting with an entirely new game.

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    This is contrary to the other official Nintendo source in the accepted answer, and it also goes against my own personal experience. Do you have any supporting evidence? – Mage Xy Dec 3 '18 at 16:32

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