One Island Per Nintendo Switch in Animal Crossing: New Horizons CONFIRMED

2 months ago 21 Comments

Nintendo has newly re-confirmed an unfortunate detail of Animal Crossing: New Horizons today regarding the number of different islands or towns we can create and play on.

Unlike most previous Animal Crossing games, you will only be able to have one single island saved at a time in Animal Crossing: New Horizons per Nintendo Switch system, regardless of how many copies of the actual game you own.

Here’s exactly what Nintendo Australia said on the topic:

Up to 8 players with registered accounts on a Nintendo Switch console can live on one shared island, and up to four residents of one island can play simultaneously on one console. Please note: only one island can exist per Nintendo Switch console, irrespective of the number of user accounts registered to or copies of the game used on one console. One Nintendo Switch and one copy of the game is required for each unique island.

It’s pretty clear cut without any lingering questions — you will only be able to have one island per Nintendo Switch console. It doesn’t matter if you use a different profile, buy and insert a different physical copy, or download a digital copy.

This is because the Nintendo Switch stores ALL game save data on the internal storage, instead of a physical cart or SD Card like Animal Crossing: New Leaf did on Nintendo 3DS. So no matter which copy you play on a Switch console, it’s loading the same save file from the same location.

Alternatively, it would have been possible for Nintendo to have each profile on the Switch console load a separate save file with a new island, but they choose not to do so. We can only speculate why, but there’s three main possible reasons in my opinion:

  • They feel that having access to multiple towns is an advantage in the game and felt that giving every player easy access to eight different islands was too much.
  • They prefer to make use of the profile selector to determine players, rather than use an in-game option like previous titles. This means you can open the game and directly load into your island without any character needing to ask who you are!
  • They just want to make you buy more Switch consoles.

Personally, I believe it’s likely some combination of reason #1 and #2 with perhaps a tiny hint of #3. While reason #3 might seem logical, I have some doubts as I believe they could sell many more additional copies than consoles, enough to make up the difference. Only the most hardcore fans are going to buy an entire new console for this reason.

There is however one possible workaround to this restriction, albeit an unlikely one. If different regions around the world use slightly different versions of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, like region-specific events for example, it’s possible that save files will be separated allowing for multiple islands using different regional copies.

This is a big stretch though and we won’t know for sure until we see exactly how the game handles regions. There are some Nintendo Switch games with one true universal version, and other titles where there are small variations like included languages. We’ll let you know if we get a definitive answer to this at any point.

Otherwise, the statement confirms that up to eight players can live on a single island within a Nintendo Switch console, presumably matching the available profiles. We already knew this, but I’m still wondering how well eight different player houses are going to fit on a single island. Real estate will be a premium!

While this limitation isn’t particularly groundbreaking since Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii operated in a very similar manner, that was over a decade ago and new players with Animal Crossing: New Leaf have been accustomed to the ability to maintain multiple towns by simply purchasing another copy.

Technically, this detail was already mentioned by the development team back at E3 2019 but I know that many of us were hoping they may have a change of heart or there was some kind of misunderstanding in the translation. With the release of New Horizons imminent, this confirmation sets the matter in stone and seems worth bringing up again.

That reminds me of another controversial piece of information revealed at E3 last year that many fans have been hoping receives a dramatic change. I’m talking about cloud saves being unsupported in Animal Crossing: New Horizons of course!

We should see the final status of cloud saves support confirmed soon when digital pre-orders go live on the Nintendo eShop where support status is usually listed. Since December, New Horizons has been listed on the European eShop with a status of ‘pending’, giving hope to some fans.

So what do you think of a single island per Nintendo Switch system being re-confirmed? Are you okay with this restriction or does it put up a damper on your plans? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches worldwide in less than two months from now on March 20th! Check out our release date countdown here, or pre-order the game here. Stay tuned to Animal Crossing World for more news as we approach the release!

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Nina

I not too happy with this. I have three towns in New Leaf and this was kind of fun. Two physical copies and a digital one. While I ended up playing mostly two – my original town on a cart and the digital one I liked the option. While I will not have to share with anyone, I can see households with only one switch but multiple players being upset. A switch is a bit of an invesment so this will sting.

Kikki

I was already certain that there would be only one island per Switch since I felt they were quite clear on that at E3 last year, and it didn’t seem like a translation mistake, to me, so this isn’t some awful new shock for me, but at the time I was quite upset about it, and I still think it’s a poor decision. Not for my own sake especially, since I have a Switch to myself (though I would have liked to be able to have more than one town to myself by having different copies, ala New Leaf, that… Read more »

Hiccy

Honestly the only reason I care about this in the first place is because I always became very attached to my towns in AC games (as most people probably do). I’m worried that if my switch ever does break I’ll lose all of my data and save files since there doesn’t seem to be a way to back up games at all with the switch right now aside from cloud saves. I can’t imagine the feeling of spending countless hours perfecting your lovely little island only for something to happen to your console and for all of that progress to… Read more »

gigi

I’m glad you covered this. I had a “beater” 3DS that I played on and the limited AC 3DSxl that I would switch the gamecard over to if I was feeling fancy, was able to play my same town on two consoles. The limited 3DS had an internal copy that loaded a completely different town, so I could have two towns on one DS. It sounds like I won’t be able to do the exact same thing with the switch because of this rule which is a huge bummer, I don’t want to treat my AC switch as I do… Read more »

Vanessa

Personally I don’t care much about this limitation. Even though I had two copies of New Leaf I only ever played on one at a time. I was never into using a second town for cycling/storage etc. A part of me kind of likes that everyone will be on the same page now

SlyCooperFan1

I’m not bothered at all by the limitation. I’ve never felt the need or desire to manage more than one town at a time. I’ve always only ever been focused on one town, and it’ll be the same for New Horizons, and my Switch will only be my Switch. The save data cloud is much more problematic to me because I don’t want to lose all of my progress. If I can backup somehow, I would. But multiple islands isn’t an issue to me.

Pengu

This came as kinda a bummer to me cause I was planning to have one island to myself for streaming and one island to share with my family but I guess I just gotta share it all now. Hey, at least I was kinda wanting my own Switch anyways so maybe if I can save up enough money by the time it comes out I’ll get one. Lets hope that this and the cloud saves are the last things about this game that are a bit of a bummer…

Jay

I just bought a switch for my sister and I so we could both play Animal Crossing. We haven’t played since Wild World on a DS and we both had our own cards and separate towns. Really wish we would have had this detail confirmed earlier. We are devastated and do not want to share a town on the switch. It was an expensive purchase for us and we will not be able to justify buying another switch/switch lite plus a second copy of AC. It’s baffling to me that I just caught up with the times and got this… Read more »

Vladimir (not the AC character)

@Jay maybe you could wait until the holidays, because Nintendo likes to do price reductions during those periods. Also, you should consider looking online for cheaper options like eBay

Saki

I don’t get why everyone is bummed about this. It’s always been just one town per system, so of course it’s gonna stay that way. Grow up, people.

AchillesPDX

Times have changed and so has technology and up until now it’s always been one town per save medium. Previous games you could always buy a second memory card or additional copy of the game to be able to share a system but not share a town. Switch is the first console from Nintendo that doesn’t allow this in any way. The saved games don’t get saved to the cartridge so you can’t just buy another copy of the game and there’s no memory card to swap out either. People have a right to be bummed.

Kikki

That’s not true. In New Leaf, even if you shared your 3DS, you could have your own town just by owning your own copy of the game itself. I had 3 towns on 1 3DS. And ‘grow up’? No one here is making death threats to the devs or throwing tantrums…we’re just saying that something doesn’t worked the way we hoped and that we’re disappointed. Looks grown up enough, to me.

Eliza

It’s called having 2 siblings

AchillesPDX

I’m mostly upset that I won’t ever be able to play my island on a TV. We have the original launch Switch model and I recently bought a Lite to use for myself when I’m traveling and for when the TV is in use. This hasn’t been an issue as I’ve been able to cloud save Luigi’s Mansion 3 and other games that I occasionally want to play on the TV, and you can do a save transfer from one system to the other for games that don’t support the cloud. Once I start Animal Crossing on my Lite however,… Read more »

Kikki

I don’t know if you’re considering doing that or not, and this suggestion will only work depending on where you live, but if you ever do consider buying another Switch, and you happen to live in Canada (or near enough to Canada to travel there to shop) I suggest keeping an eye on Shoppers Drug Mart. People don’t think of it as a place to buy game consoles, but they do carry them, and they regularly have ‘redemption events’, where if you have 200,000 points to redeem, you can get extra value out of them, and it would get you… Read more »

Julie

Nintendo has made a huge error and halved their market by only having one town. We were going to buy our daughters one game each as they both like to do different things on their island but now will only buy one. look how many more games they would have sold.

Kelsey

I really dislike their decision for saving and one town per switch. I dislike sharing towns with people because everyone has there own style. I can’t imagine what it would be like with big families. I have more fun going to other people’s towns and seeing what they’ve done with the place.

Emily

This really sucks! Lucky I’ve got my own switch and am the only one in my household that likes AC. I wouldn’t want to share an island with my family, it’s nice for everyone to have their own and to make it what they themselves want. I understand the ‘advantage’ but if someone wants to pay that much money for 8 copies to have 8 islands, why not!

Eliza

I really hope Nintendo will change this because it’s rude to larger families with a tight budget (aka me)

Heathen45

It sucks because if you have more than one person playing on the same island there isn’t much to do unless you are first to play that day and you have to go along with what everyone else does on the island I have one switch with 4 people on one island if I would have known this I wouldn’t have bought the game for my kids because all I have heard is fighting over this crap and I’m not buying 3 new switches just for this game so they all can have their own island