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My situation is best described by a short timeline:

  • Me living together with girlfriend, I have a Switch, she also has an account on it, and that is her primary Switch.
  • She buys ACNH on her account.
  • Installs and plays on my Switch, becomes Resident Representative on the island.
  • I also play on the same island, and get invested.
  • ...time skip...
  • Relationship ends, ex-girlfriend moves away. I keep my Switch and, with her permission, keep playing the game, getting more invested.
  • Now she has gained access to another Switch and wants to play there.

Well, I also want to keep playing. I presume that I will have to buy the game myself, that's no problem, but I want to keep the same island as well, if possible.


My question is: what happens if she does whatever she needs to do to start playing on another Switch, but I don't do anything to her account on my Switch.

  • Will her local account be deleted? Or can I keep using it and her character to build bridges and whatnot?
  • Or if I am locked out of her character, will the island remain playable so I can at least take the time to store items with a friend?
  • Is there a chance that she can use the cloud backup feature to transfer the whole island, even though it's intended only for broken/lost consoles?
    I don't think she has any interest in this, but it may apply to others in the same predicament.

I can't be the first person in this exact situation, so I've searched around of course, but I couldn't find an answer.
Other people have asked what happens if you delete the representative, and the answer is that it can only be done by deleting the whole island, but I don't need to delete her character for emotional reasons or anything. I'm fine just dressing up her house as a Witch's Lair and posting warning signs all over it. (just to be clear: j/k, I'm not actually calling her a witch)

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Unfortunately, there is no way this ends where the same island is on your copy of ACNH.

Relevant Nintendo Article

You can link your Nintendo Account to multiple consoles. However, you can only activate one primary console per Nintendo Account. On a non-primary console, games that you’ve downloaded with your Nintendo Account will only be playable using your account. On the primary console, games that you've downloaded with your Nintendo Account can be played by all users on that console.

If you continued to play your game normally, and she were to set up ACNH on her own switch with her Nintendo Account properly affiliated with it, you would eventually lose access to play with any account but hers.

Why?

The game is (likely) linked specifically to her Nintendo Account as her Primary Console. This means that anybody who uses this console can play the game.

After she re-assigns everything to this new switch, your console will become non-primary.

As such, only HER account can be used to play the game.

Everything you want to save needs to be transferred to her resident BEFORE she signs in. At that point, you could play the game regularly as her so long as her account information is valid.

I spent several hours on the phone with a Nintendo Rep trying to get myself as the "Main User" of the switch instead of my daughter (She hopped on my "account" to play her games when we first got it, and I wanted her to keep her save files. So I just renamed it and made myself a new one. We got stuck in a cycle of buying games on her account. NOT worth saving her 20 minutes of Odyssey gameplay!). . . So I've gone through every scenario I could think of with Nintendo for legitimate purposes.

Is this the only game she's bought on this Nintendo account? Perhaps you could negotiate a transfer of ownership. (Probably against Nintendo Terms)

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  • 1
    Thanks a lot for your answer. As I've stated, I don't mind having to buy the game myself. The question is, can I then resume the same save file? I would assume that I could, because unlike with most games, an ACNH island is bound to a console, not a user. Now, if I could then indeed "play the game regularly as her so long as her account information is valid", I would still be able to build bridges. Are you sure about that part though? – Bart van Heukelom Sep 1 '20 at 10:53
  • The only way to remove your console as a non-primary on her account is to do it from your console or get Nintendo Support involved. If Nintendo removes you, that is only a factor if you're connected to the net. In addition, I imagine if her credentials change you may be prompted to enter them (For updates, etc). . . The save file I'm not actually certain about. I know 2 copies of a physical game would use the same (console bound) save data. But because it's digital, I focused my answer mainly on playing her copy because an island migration to a different game will not come easily. – Aww_Geez Sep 1 '20 at 13:26
  • You know, I seem to remember that people were awfully fussy because it's actually VERY hard to get a new or different island on a switch. You pretty much have to get multiple switches to make it happen. I may have been mistaken, and you simply need a copy of the game and all will be well. – Aww_Geez Sep 1 '20 at 15:07
  • As it happens, there has already been an exclamation point next to her profile for some days now, and I can't open it without being prompted for credentials. I don't know if and what she did at that time, but it was before she warned me she was going to set it up on another Switch. So far though, it hasn't blocked me from playing the game as myself. Now that I mention it though, I realise I didn't test yet whether I can still play as her... However, the fact that I can still play must mean she hasn't changed her primary Switch yet, so it's still uncertain what will happen when she does. – Bart van Heukelom Sep 2 '20 at 12:19
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Fast forward, and now the move has happened, with the following result:

  • After she made her own Switch her main one, I could no longer play the game.
  • When I bought the game myself (a physical copy) I could play again, on the same island with my old character.
  • I did have to redownload some free DLC from the store.
  • However, I couldn't play as her character until she logged in again with her new password.

Since she did that, it's all pretty much smooth sailing. I can even play with her character at the same time that she's playing the game on her new Switch/island/character. I can visit her island with my character and vice versa. The only limitation is that her characters can't visit each other, it results in a vague error popup being shown when that is attempted.

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  • So basically you got to keep the island you had on your console with your same character, and she had to create a new one along with a new character? I'm in a kind of similar situation and want to better understand what's going to happen... – DarkAjax Jan 14 at 2:15

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