Nintendo Account vs. Nintendo Network ID vs. My Nintendo


Staff member
Dec 23, 2013
Lafayette, LA
I gotta let this out: I caught bloody hell trying to figure out how to link all these accounts with the Switch. I really don't remember having this much trouble with wii u and 3ds's. But in the end, of course it was my fault.

Here's the deal: i was trying to link my daughter's wii u/3ds account to the Switch, using her Nintendo Network ID. I did not realize all this time i had never made her a Nintendo Account, much less did i realize they were a different thing. So i had to make her a Nintendo account, and from there link using her Network ID because oh my goodness, it seems to hate when we use email addresses. I love my Nintendo but man alive they could really simplify this. Reminding me of Apple!!!
That's one of the things I don't understand about Nintendo. Why are there different types of logins? Sometimes I'll be trying to login not understanding why I can't and then find out it's because I'm trying to login to the wrong type of account. PlayStation only has one type and you just use your email address. XBOX has one type and you just use your email address. Heck, for XBOX, it's the same login as your Microsoft account. Why does this need to be so confusing for Nintendo? Especially since it's meant to be simplified to mainly just gaming...that was there reason for not having on the video streaming services on the Switch when it first came out.

EDIT: Even Apple is more simple lol
Fast forward to this morning: i got everything situated for the accounts. I got up early and played a few hours of Odyssey. On my daughter's save file. Huhhhhhhhhhhhh. Oh well, we both just started. I'll get myself straightened up before long!
We went through that with my friends also when they got their Switch. It took them a while to remember that their Nintendo account was something totally different.
Well, it's actually simple.

Nintendo Network is the old online network. It's how you have friend codes on switch. They want to keep the fanbase that is currently percolating on Nintendo Wii/Nintendo 3DS/whatever. They also built "Nintendo Account" to work similarily to PSN or XBL, where you can use it on their website/your console to prevent inconveniences.

My Nintendo is a replacement to "Club Nintendo" or whatever stupid rewards program they had, it's not an account, it's just Nintendo's way of rewarding you or recognizing you.
Nintendo is the absolute worst at this. They should have kept the Miiverse thing going and opened profiles up to the public to compete with Xbox Live gamertags and Playstation IDs. But no, they had to create another confusing mess.

Here's what the Verge wrote about this back in 2017.

Claim your new Nintendo User ID, the latest addition to its complicated online accounts
Feb 20, 2017, 4:16pm EST

Nintendo’s byzantine online account system just got even more complicated, with the addition of a new “User ID” to user accounts. The new User ID seems to be the way you’ll be identified online, similar to Microsoft’s Gamertag system. It is not the same as a Nickname, another form of identification used for the same accounts. You’ll need to log into your Nintendo Account here to claim a User ID, even if you already have a Nintendo Account set up.

If you’ve used an online Nintendo service before, chances are you’ve got at least some of this down, but here’s where things stand with Nintendo’s current accounts:

Your Nintendo Account is the top level of all your online Nintendo services. It’s attached to your email address, and can be accessed here. It’s the portal through which you’ll manage account settings, including your account nickname, your Nintendo Network ID, and your new Nintendo Account User ID.

Your Nintendo Network ID (not the same as your Nintendo Account User ID) was used for online services with the Wii U and 3DS, where it provided access to the Nintendo eShop and Miiverse. You can link your Nintendo Network ID to your Nintendo account through the Nintendo account settings page. While that allows you to share an eShop Wallet between consoles, downloaded games aren’t really tied to the account (something that appears to be changing with the Switch).

This is the new one. We don’t know exactly what this is used for yet — presumably something on the Switch — but you’ll probably want to go into the settings of your Nintendo Account to claim your moniker of choice anyway. As mentioned before, you’ll do that by logging into your Nintendo Account, and editing your User ID (see the image above).
Hate to keep beating on this subject, but i will in hope that it may help someone else out: So after getting ACNH, i discovered that we would indeed need a Switch Online Family account. I only had myself an account for Friday the 13th and whatnot. Now that 3 of us are playing regular, i upgraded and added my daughter. No problem, it let me using her Nintendo Network ID. Well to add my wife, who never ever plays video games, i had a little trouble. She had a NNID, but it didn't want me to use that to link her account. It wanted an email and password. Evidently this i had never set up. It took a little while to sort, but after i set her up like a "new" account, sent an invitation, it worked out well.

Point being: it appears Nintendo is trying to move this away from logging in with your NNID and use an email/password to enter. Im sure it's for privacy now that credit cards can be attached to accounts. Ok cool.

PS if any of you got 19 Switch Online Family invites yesterday, please ignore!

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