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I want to create a Nintendo Switch game that only I can play, but I don't want to go through the process of uploading it to the EShop but connecting the switch to my PC and putting it on that way. Is there a way to do so without paying? I can't find anything about this on Google.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I can't find anything about this on Google." This is probably because once you've followed the steps described in this anser below, you're forced into a non-disclosure agreement about everything you'll see. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Feb 5, 2023 at 22:22

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Officially, you could do this after successfully applying for the closed console platform by becoming a registered Nintendo developer. As part of the typical testing & development cycle, you would be running your game on the Switch before releasing it in the EShop. Unity's information for getting your game on the Nintendo Switch can be found here.

Outside of the official path, what you are describing is known as sideloading (transferring files between two local devices) or running homebrew (a term used to describe unauthorized software). This involves many of the same steps as running pirated games and Nintendo is known to have taken aggressive steps to prevent piracy on the Switch platform. Even if you are pursuing this for non-piracy reasons, you may run the risk of getting your device and/or account banned.

For the above reasons, the Switch is not particularly welcoming for hobbyist development. As an alternative, you might want to consider the Steam Deck which allows you to install and play non-Steam games. You can even develop Unity games directly on a Steam Deck.

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