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

8 months ago 27 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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