Nintendo’s account system has undergone a few major revisions over the years as it tries to to figure out how exactly it’s handling online functionality, but with the launch of the Switch, it seems to have settled on the Nintendo Account.

Still, that means that anyone with an old account needs to set up a new Nintendo Account, and Nintendo Account ID, even if you’ve had an account for your 3DS or Wii U in the past. So let’s break down how Nintendo’s system works, and what you need to do.

What is a Nintendo Account?

Nintendo introduced the Nintendo account system in 2016 with the launch of Miitomo, its first smartphone app, and expanded it with the Account ID feature shortly before the Switch launch.

The Nintendo Account is distinct from the Nintendo Network ID, the system the company used to link accounts for 3DS and Wii U owners, but you can link your existing Nintendo Network ID to your new Nintendo Account. If you do so, it will carry over all of your digital purchase history, allowing you to re-download titles that you’ve bought in the past.

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Not only does a Nintendo Account allow you to link your accounts on various Nintendo devices, in the future it will also give you access to custom offers, and gives you access to the MyNintendo reward scheme. This lets you earn points for buying and playing games, which in turn let you unlock in-game bonuses, download console themes and other digital perks, and even get discounts on Nintendo eShop purchases.

The Nintendo Account ID (a.k.a. User ID) is a more recent feature that simply gives you a public username for your account. There’s no need to set one, but if you do it gives you another way to log in to your account. It just has to be at least six characters long, and must be unique.

How do you get a Nintendo Account?

To set up a Nintendo Account, head to Nintendo’s official website and select ‘Create a Nintendo Account’. Then choose between creating an account for a child or for yourself. You then either fill out your details, or link an existing Nintendo Network ID, or Facebook, Twitter, or Google account to set it up more quickly.

Once you’ve created your account, you can add a User ID from the ‘User Information’ section of your account. You can also head to MyNintendo to link that to your Nintendo Account and begin earning points on your Nintendo games and consoles - including smartphone games like Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes.