Skip to content

The Ultimate Guide to Free Games and Apps on the Nintendo eShop

What Can You Get for Free on the Nintendo eShop?

The Nintendo eShop offers a surprisingly robust selection of free games, demos, apps, and perks. As a budget-conscious gaming enthusiast, I‘ve explored all the best free offerings extensively. Here‘s a quick rundown of what you can get without spending any money:

  • Full free-to-play games like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Apex Legends with no limits.
  • Extensive game demos to try before you buy.
  • Free-to-start versions of titles like Super Kirby Clash.
  • Permanently free games to download and keep.
  • Free classic NES/SNES games with a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
  • Popular media apps like YouTube and streaming services.
  • In-game rewards and full game downloads using My Nintendo Points.

You‘d be surprised just how much great content is available for gratis. Read on for an in-depth guide on getting the most free games, demos, apps and perks for your Nintendo Switch.

Free-to-Play Games

The Nintendo eShop houses a number of high-quality free-to-play games across various genres. These F2P titles include worldwide hits like:

  • Fortnite – The insanely popular battle royale shooter needs no introduction. Includes full cross-play and cross-progression with other platforms.
  • Rocket League – This wildly fun hybrid of soccer/cars supports cross-platform multiplayer and syncing as well.
  • Genshin Impact – This gacha action RPG provides tons of content without spending a dime.
  • Warframe – An impressive looter shooter with a huge array of frames, weapons, pets and gear to acquire.

The Perks of Free-to-Play

F2P games sustain themselves through optional in-game transactions. But the key is that all core gameplay content is completely free. No need to pay to unlock heroes or modes – everything meaningful is available upfront.

Microtransactions may let you acquire cosmetic skins, XP boosts, advanced characters, etc. But you can enjoy these titles in full without spending anything. Additional purchases are never forced or required.

According to a report by SafeBettingSites.com, over 210 million players logged into Fortnite as of March 2021. That massive player base is sustained entirely by optional cosmetic sales.

Free-to-play titles also benefit from frequent updates and content additions to drive ongoing engagement. Fortnite receives fresh seasons every few months, while new Warframes and weapons get continuously added to its universe.

Between the huge built-in audiences and steady stream of updates, F2P games offer tremendous replay value. And starting playing couldn‘t be easier when there‘s zero financial barrier to entry.

Notable Free-to-Play Titles

In addition to the big names above, here are some other quality F2P games worth checking out:

  • Killer Queen Black
  • Pokémon UNITE
  • Rogue Company
  • SUPER BOMBERMAN R ONLINE
  • Fallout Shelter

The eShop F2P catalog spans shooters, battle arenas, strategy, and more. Try out a few to see which multiplayer experiences hook you in. Just download straight from the eShop at no cost.

Game Demos

Before shelling out $60 on a brand new Nintendo Switch release, you can usually try it out yourself via a free demo. Most major titles offer a complementary trial version with no strings attached.

What to Expect from Demos

Demos typically provide one of two experiences:

  1. A standalone, time-limited trial section of the game.
  2. The full opening hours of gameplay, up to a certain point.

The most common demo style is the first – a special mode separate from the main game. These usually last around 60-90 minutes and restrict you to certain characters, tracks, or levels.

Other demos effectively give you the complete starting experience, just truncated at a certain point. You‘ll be able to play the introduction and opening levels before reaching the cutoff.

Playing on Your Own Terms

Game trials give you sufficient time to make an informed purchase decision:

  • Get a feel for core mechanics and controls.
  • Sample graphics, soundtrack, and overall polish.
  • Experience different gameplay modes and features.
  • Determine if the style clicks with your preferences.

Demos are completely risk-free ways to experience new releases stress-free. Download, play, and then decide if the full game is worth buying.

Recent and Upcoming Demos

Here are some notable demos from the past couple years, across a variety of genres:

Kirby and the Forgotten Land Mario Strikers: Battle League
Triangle Strategy Nintendo Switch Sports
Metroid Dread Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
Sonic Frontiers Disney Dreamlight Valley

Keep an eye out for demos accompanying upcoming 2023 releases like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Pikmin 4 as well.

Free-to-Start Games

The "free-to-start" category sits between full F2P and demo experiences. Like demos, they give you a taste of the gameplay for free. But you can continue progressing in the game by making purchases.

Examples like Pokémon Quest, Ninjala, and Mario Kart Tour let you explore substantial parts of the game at no cost:

  • In Pokémon Quest, you can fully explore the Tumblecube Island and befriend multiple Pokémon without paying.
  • Ninjala allows free players to partake in online battles and earn in-game currency through daily missions.
  • Mario Kart Tour provides a steady rotation of tracks and races that you can compete in for free. Only certain Grand Prix modes require purchase.

You won‘t get the complete experience, but will unlock enough to determine if you want to keep playing. Additional purchases then allow you to access more exotic characters, modes, customizations and locations.

Think of these as glorified demos that you can continue enjoying, albeit in a limited form, into the late game. The free trials get their hooks in you, and optional purchases offer the fuller experience.

Permanently Free Games

Alongside the major free-to-play titles, there is a solid selection of games that are yours to download and keep forever at no cost. These run the genre gamut:

  • Battle Supremacy (overhead shooter)
  • Ninjala ( multiplayer brawler)
  • Fallout Shelter (vault sim management)
  • Pokémon Quest (Pokémon explorer)
  • Super Kirby Clash (boss rush action)

Don‘t let the fact that they‘re free turn you off – many of these titles received strong reviews from critics and users alike at their launch. Their free status makes them easy to recommend to all players.

How Can They Be Free?

These are usually offered free for several potential reasons:

  • Promote an existing or upcoming paid series entry.
  • Drum up interest from lapsed series fans.
  • Establish an IP‘s universe and gameplay for future titles.
  • As a "thank you" to loyal fans.

Don‘t worry, they aren‘t demo versions or trials. Once downloaded, they are yours to enjoy forever without limits or strings attached.

New permanently free games get added regularly, so check the eShop‘s latest releases and specials often. You may just nab the next great freebie right as it drops!

Limited-Time Free Offers

On occasion, you‘ll find special limited-time promotions offering paid games for free. The eShop deals page will highlight these:

  • Ubisoft offered Rayman Legends free for one full week.
  • Players could grab the extreme sports game Steep at no cost for a limited period.
  • Pinball FX3 periodically opens up its entire pinball table catalog for free play during special events.

These are often used to build hype for upcoming entries in the series or related projects. Or they may tie in with a relevant real-world event.

Either way, striking while the iron is hot lets you score some great freebies. Just be sure to act fast, as they typically expire after several days to a week.

Free Apps and Services

The eShop provides access to a number of free, useful apps. These include:

Streaming Apps

  • YouTube – Watch videos or live stream content.
  • Hulu – Stream shows & movies with a paid subscription.
  • Tubi TV – Free TV & movie streaming service with ads.

Social Apps

  • Twitch – Watch livestreams from other gamers.
  • Reddit – Browse the popular online forums.
  • Discord – Chat with friends and communities.

Creation Apps

  • Smule Sing – Make karaoke videos.
  • Capture – Save videos and screenshots.

Other Notables

  • Nintendo Switch Online – Required for online multiplayer gaming.
  • NES/SNES Nintendo Switch Online Apps – Play free classics with an active membership.

Having video streaming, social, and capture apps available right on your Switch makes your console far more versatile.

Nintendo Switch Online Perks

A Nintendo Switch Online membership unlocks some nice freebies:

  • Online multiplayer gaming
  • Cloud saves for game progress
  • Access to classic NES & SNES libraries
  • Special offers including game trials, discounts, and DLC

That last perk brings us to the membership‘s best freebie:

Free Classic Nintendo Games

Active Nintendo Switch Online members can download and play a Netflix-style library of classic NES and SNES games. These are fully playable at no added cost.

The catalog contains many of Nintendo‘s acclaimed first-party games across the 80s and 90s including:

  • Super Mario Bros. 1-3
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Kirby‘s Adventure
  • Super Metroid
  • Yoshi‘s Island
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Star Fox
  • Super Mario World 1 & 2
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Super Metroid

And many more classics across both consoles. Nintendo adds new NES and SNES games about once per month, so the catalog keeps expanding.

For nostalgic gamers or those new to Nintendo‘s legacy content, this free game vault alone can justify the yearly $19.99 membership fee.

My Nintendo Rewards

Linking your Nintendo Account to My Nintendo and buying digital titles earns you Gold Points. After accumulating points, you can cash them in for awesome rewards.

Earning Points

Here are the ways to rake in My Nintendo points:

  • Buying eShop games – 5-10% back as points
  • Playing Nintendo mobile games – Earn levels and points
  • Visiting the My Nintendo website – Occasional bonuses
  • Completing game missions – Points for in-game achievements

Physical switch games bought new also include redeemable point codes.

Reward Highlights

You can exchange points for some sweet offers:

  • Full game downloads – Enough points can score you top first-party titles!
  • Character keychains – Cool collectible figures of Nintendo mascots.
  • Coupons – Discount eShop purchases by up to 30%.
  • Soundtracks – Albums from games like Animal Crossing and Splatoon.
  • Wallpapers – Deck out your device‘s screen.

New rewards get added monthly, so keep checking back. With enough playtime and eShop purchases, you‘ll build up points for stellar freebies.

Maximizing Free Games

Here are some tips to keep the free gaming going:

  • Refer friends to Nintendo Switch Online – Earn points for each sign-up.
  • Only buy games you‘re sure you‘ll play – Avoid wasting money and points.
  • Check the eShop for sales – Lower cost means faster point accumulation.
  • Complete My Nintendo missions – Rack up points through playtime.
  • Buy family plan subs – The cost split nets huge savings.

Taking advantage of points, referrals, sales, and sharing plans compounds the amount of free content accessible to you.

So that covers all the best ways to enjoy free gaming with your Nintendo Switch! Let me know if you have any other questions.