Exploring the Rare Occasions When Nintendo Gives Away Games

Nintendo, the gaming giant, is known for its iconic characters and immersive gaming experiences. But does the company ever give away games? This question has been a topic of discussion among gamers for years. While Nintendo is not known for its generosity when it comes to giving away games, there have been a few rare occasions where the company has surprised its fans with free games. In this article, we will explore these instances and try to understand the reasons behind Nintendo’s decision to give away games. So, let’s dive in to find out more!

How Nintendo Distributes Games

Direct Download

  • Nintendo offers direct downloads of select games through its online store.
  • This method of distribution is convenient for users who prefer to download their games digitally.
  • An example of a game that was distributed through direct download is Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.

Email Promotions

  • Nintendo sends out email promotions to users who have signed up for its rewards program, My Nintendo.
  • These promotions often offer free or discounted games as part of special offers or limited-time deals.
  • To take advantage of these promotions, users must have a registered Nintendo account and be subscribed to My Nintendo.
  • Examples of games that have been offered through email promotions include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Limited-Time Promotions

Key takeaway: Nintendo, the renowned Japanese video game company, has occasionally offered free games to its users through various official programs. These programs serve as unique opportunities for gamers to obtain games at no cost, adding to the excitement and anticipation surrounding the release of new titles. Nintendo has used methods such as direct downloads, email promotions, limited-time promotions, game competitions, and charity events to distribute free games. These efforts have generated buzz and excitement among gamers while also rewarding loyal customers and attracting new customers.

Free Game Offerings

  • In the past, Nintendo has offered free games with the purchase of certain products or services. For example, customers who pre-ordered Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon received a free copy of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon.
  • This type of promotion is a great way for Nintendo to encourage sales of their products while also rewarding loyal customers.

Free Game Downloads with eShop Purchases

  • Another way Nintendo has given away games is through limited-time promotions on their eShop. For instance, customers who purchased a Switch console were able to download a free copy of Super Mario Odyssey.
  • These types of promotions are typically only available for a short period of time and are often announced via email or social media.
  • By offering free games through the eShop, Nintendo is able to attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases from existing customers.

Overall, Nintendo’s limited-time promotions are a great way for the company to generate buzz and excitement around their products. By offering free games, Nintendo is able to reward their customers while also increasing sales and attracting new customers.

Regional Promotions

Free Game Giveaways

Nintendo has been known to offer free games as part of regional promotions in certain regions. One such example is the promotion where customers who purchased select Nintendo Switch systems in Europe were eligible to receive a free copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This promotion was likely aimed at boosting sales of the Nintendo Switch and increasing the popularity of the game.

Game Competitions

Another way Nintendo gives away games is through game competitions. For instance, the Mario Masters competition was held in Japan, where players competed against each other in various Mario-themed challenges. The winners of the competition were awarded with copies of the latest Mario games. These competitions not only generate excitement among gamers but also help to promote Nintendo’s games and consoles.

Charity Events

Nintendo, like many other companies, has a history of giving back to the community through charitable events. One such way they contribute is by donating games to various organizations, such as hospitals and schools.

Game Donations

  • Hospitals: Nintendo has been known to donate games to hospitals as a way to bring joy and distraction to children who are undergoing treatment. This has been done in partnership with organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, which provides support to families of sick children.
  • Schools: In some cases, Nintendo has donated games to schools as part of educational programs or fundraisers. For example, the company has donated copies of its popular game, “Mario Kart,” to schools for use in physical education classes or as prizes for school fundraisers.

These charitable donations not only provide entertainment and enjoyment to those who receive them, but they also serve as a way for Nintendo to give back to the community and support important causes.

Official Nintendo Programs

Nintendo, the renowned Japanese video game company, has occasionally offered free games to its users through various official programs. These programs serve as unique opportunities for gamers to obtain games at no cost, adding to the excitement and anticipation surrounding the release of new titles. In this section, we will delve into two such official programs that Nintendo has employed to distribute free games:

Testing New Games

One such program is the testing of new games, which is particularly relevant to the Nintendo Switch Online service. The Nintendo Switch Online service, introduced in 2018, is a subscription-based service that provides access to online multiplayer gaming, as well as a library of classic Nintendo games. As part of this service, Nintendo occasionally offers select games for free to subscribers to test their functionality and to gather feedback for potential improvements.

For instance, in 2020, Nintendo offered the game “Banjo-Kazooie” for free to subscribers of the Nintendo Switch Online service. This game, originally released for the Nintendo 64 console in 1998, was made available for a limited time as part of the service’s “Nintendo 64” library. Subscribers could download and play the game at no additional cost, allowing them to experience the classic title and provide feedback to Nintendo on its performance.

Nintendo Direct Presentations

Another official program through which Nintendo has offered free games is through its Nintendo Direct presentations. Nintendo Direct is a video presentation format in which key executives from Nintendo provide updates and announcements about upcoming game releases, system updates, and other news related to the company’s products. These presentations are streamed live online and are an essential source of information for fans and gamers alike.

During these presentations, Nintendo has been known to offer limited-time offers and promotions, including free games. For example, in 2017, Nintendo announced the release of the “Switch” console and offered a free download code for the game “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” with the purchase of the console. This promotion was made available only during a specific time frame and was limited to the first supply of consoles. Similarly, Nintendo has offered free games and discounts on other titles during special occasions and events, such as holidays and anniversaries.

In conclusion, Nintendo has utilized official programs such as testing new games and Nintendo Direct presentations to provide free games to its users. These programs offer unique opportunities for gamers to obtain games at no cost and contribute to the excitement and anticipation surrounding the release of new titles.


1. Does Nintendo ever give away games?

Nintendo is known for being a company that takes its products seriously, and it is rare for them to give away games. However, there have been a few instances where Nintendo has given away games as part of promotional events or as a way to apologize for certain issues. For example, Nintendo has given away copies of its games as prizes at gaming tournaments, or as part of a limited-time offer to customers who purchased a specific console.

2. What kind of games has Nintendo given away in the past?

Nintendo has given away a variety of games over the years, ranging from classic titles like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda to more recent releases like Mario Kart 8 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The games that Nintendo gives away tend to be popular titles that are highly sought after by gamers.

3. How can I get my hands on a free Nintendo game?

The best way to get a free Nintendo game is to keep an eye out for promotional events or special offers. Nintendo often runs events like gaming tournaments or trade shows where they give away games as prizes. You can also check out Nintendo’s website or social media channels for information on any current promotions or limited-time offers. Additionally, Nintendo has been known to give away games as part of apology campaigns, so if there are any issues with a particular game or console, it may be worth keeping an eye out for a potential giveaway.

4. Are there any other ways to get free Nintendo games?

One way to get free Nintendo games is to participate in online gaming communities or forums. These communities often host events or contests where members can win free games or game-related prizes. Additionally, some websites and YouTube channels offer giveaways or contests where you can win Nintendo games or other gaming-related prizes.

5. Can I get a refund or replacement if I buy a Nintendo game that is later given away for free?

If you purchase a Nintendo game that is later given away for free, you may be eligible for a refund or replacement under certain circumstances. Nintendo’s refund and replacement policies vary depending on the region and the specific game in question, so it’s best to check with Nintendo’s customer support for more information. However, it’s worth noting that Nintendo is generally not in the habit of giving away games as a regular practice, so it’s unlikely that a game you purchased will be given away for free in the near future.

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