Why Does Nintendo Still Use Friend Codes? (The Truth)

Are you confused on why Nintendo went back to friend codes for the Nintendo Switch even in 2017! I know the decision must feel crazy so I researched the internet finding the answer to this question.

Nintendo uses friend codes as Nintendo content is catered towards kids and a system using friend codes makes finding information about people you meet online more difficult. Friends codes are improved from the Wii but online gaming is not a priority for Nintendo.

There are other reasons like the ability to easily change your local username for free, and the friend codes being a vast improvement from the DS/Wii days. I will discuss everything in detail and how you can add friends using friend codes

Why Nintendo Uses Friend Codes Explained


Nintendo does their e own thing which is why they are arguably the most important gaming company ever, who makes fantastic games and systems like the Switch and ZeldaBreath Of The Wild. However, they are notorious for all their awful online decisions.

The Nintendo Switch is mainly marked as a family console involving kids, as you can see in this numerous trailers such as this one here


If your Nintendo username was A.Weinstein you could easily find out your actual name was Alex Weinstein, if you Google you will see any Instagram/Facebook accounts linked to that name. Everyone is an internet detective this time and age and people always live a lot of personal information online for anyone to see.

Whereas with friend codes, are more secure making stalking people far more difficult as you have a 12 digit number; and not a nametag that a child could put their name in.

Nintendo Switch Friend Codes Are The Best They Been

Nintendo made the baffling decision so take a step backwards from the Wii U to bring back friend codes confused a lot of people, myself included. The Wii U had Gamertags and not friend codes as you can see in this video!

During the Wii and DS era, you needed a separate 12-digit friend code for every game! I believe this is where peoples dislike for friend codes came from. Also, when two people added each other there was no indication that a friend code was received!

However, now the Nintendo Switch friend code is an actual request that shows up on the receivers console. Also, Nintendo added several options that made adding people easier, like the ability to add people you previously played with, add your 3DS/Wii U friends automatically and the ability to add people via a mobile app also.

Also, I’m sure you met someone you wanted to add online who had a Gamertag like QuickSHXCd92hffd so a 12 numerical digital code is a lot easier to add & type correctly than worrying about writing upper and lower case letters.

Adding 12 digit friend code isn’t too much different from adding someones Gamertag unless the later is very memorable.

All you need is to share your friend’s code on a social media platform and people can easily add you without any privacy concerns without having to personally contact each other to swap codes. A vast improvement on the original system.

I can just share my friend’s code on Twitter, and people can add me with no issue. No more having to personally contact each other to swap friends codes specifically. That’s how it should be.

Friend Codes Give You A Lot Of Freedom With Your Name

Say your name is Jeff and on Xbox or PlayStation you want your Gamertag to be Jeff, this cannot happen as this GamerTag would be taken so you would need to call yourself Jeff2322 or whatever.

With The Nintendo Switch you

The Switch friend codes allow you to easily have your display name as Jeff or whatever you want it to be, like the way other people add you is via your unique 12 digit friend code and not your ID.

Also unlike PlayStation, you can freely change your display name as often as you want with no extra cost. This wouldn’t be possible with a traditional GamerTag system.

Nintendo Is Just Terrible With Online

These are all valid points but I think the most important thing to realise is Nintendo has a terrible track record with online, and it’s never been their strong point. Check my article where I go into detail about my Nintendo online is so bad.

Not only did Nintendo reintroduce friend codes, but they also require you to download a separate app for the game chat that doesn’t work properly, have terrible non-dedicated servers for big online games like Splatoon 2.

Worst still, the Switch was launched in 2017 with a massive feature, party chat been missing from the Nintendo online ecosystem, this has been around in Xbox Live 9 years before the Switch was released in 2008 so it’s not a question of Nintendo lacking the technology/capability.

Nintendo might justify friend codes for privacy reasons and everything mentioned previous, but regardless they are terrible at everything online and have an awful track record of doing anything about it.

Take a look at the popular Nintendo YouTuber Arlo about how Nintendo online has not improved since it released.

What is a Nintendo Switch friend code?

A Nintendo Switch friend code is a unique 12 digit code that allows users to add other users on their Nintendo Switch or Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo network. Once you connect your ID to a Nintendo online account(find out how to do this here)

When someone accepts a friend code request you will see each other when logged in and can play games and exchange messages with each other.

How to find your friend code on your switch?

It’s very simple to find your friend code

  1. Press The Home Button and Select your User
  2. Select Profile
  3. Check the right side of the screen to find your friend code

Check this handy video tutorial for an easy guide in case you get confused

Nintendo Switch How To Add Friends

Despite the friend code system it is quite easy to add friends on your Nintendo Switch

  1. Go on your home screen> click the top left corner at your profile icon
  2. Link your ID to an official Nintendo account(click here for a guide)
  3. From here you have three different options
  4. “Search for local users” allows you to add people who are close to you>click one of the symbols and your friend has to click the same symbol as you to easily add you
  5. “List of users you played with” allows you to see your recently played with players where you can easily add someone you thought was cool
  6. “Search for friend code” you will use this most often as you simply enter the 12 digit Nintendo Switch friend code and the person will be sent a friend request, you can also cancel send requests by scrolling down.