I have an American 3DS, but am now living in Germany. I can order American games by mail, but it would be much easier to buy games in the eShop, in cases where physical and digital versions are both available. However, I'm going to be getting my daughter her own 3DS soon. I'd like to be able to let her play the games I buy, but I'm sure as hell not buying two copies of New Super Mario Brothers or whatever at full retail.

Once I've played through a download title, is there any way to transfer the license to a different system? I know iOS gets this right, allowing multiple devices tied to the same account -- does Nintendo offer anything similar? Am I stuck with a cartridge for every game I want to be able to share with my family?

Note: I already found this question and I understand how to do a full system transfer. Obviously, I'd like to be able to continue using my system as well after "giving" a game to my daughter!

  • I think 3DS bought in different regions are locked to that region, so make sure to get your daughter an American 3DS and not a European one.
    – JohnoBoy
    Nov 12, 2012 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


The short answer is no, you can't transfer individual eShop games.

From Nintendo's 3DS General Information page:

Can the downloadable version of a Nintendo 3DS game be transferred to another 3DS console?

It is not possible to transfer a specific software title to another Nintendo 3DS console. However, it is possible to perform a System Transfer and transfer the entire content of your console to another. For more information please refer to the System Transfer section of this Website.

I had to dig a bit to find this information, it is under 'Nintendo eShop Information -> Downloadable Retail Software - Frequently Asked Questions'. Also keep in mind this tidbit regarding System Transfer, under 'Transferring Games':

How Many Times Can I Transfer Content from One System to Another?

Data can be transferred up to five times. A system cannot perform a system transfer multiple times within a set period.

  • Well shucks. I was happy to live in the "digital future" where I don't have to drive somewhere (or have somebody ship a box across the ocean...) to get a new game, but apparently I can't do that if I have kids. Thanks, Nintendo! :-/
    – James B
    Nov 14, 2012 at 7:17
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    Maybe you live in the digital future. Nintendo apparently still doesn't, at least when it comes to content licensing. In comparison, Sony lets you download your games on up to two activated devices of each type, so if say, you bought a Vita game, you can have it on two different Vitas. A PS1 game can be on two PS3s, and two Vitas/PSPs or combination of. You cna always deactivate a device, of course.
    – JohnoBoy
    Nov 14, 2012 at 8:15
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    I would be a 100% card-carrying Nintendo fanboy if they could fix this one, glaring problem with their digital marketplace. If my Nintendo account was like my Apple account, Xbox account, Playstation account, Amazon/Kindle account (I could go on, but I think that's enough) and let me put all "my" content on all "my" devices, I would consider them to be the best game company today. As it stands I'm planning to try to sell the download card that comes with my new Zelda 3DS and buy the cartridge version instead :'(
    – James B
    Jan 10, 2014 at 11:42

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