Problems with Sharing Island & Adding Second Player in Animal Crossing New Horizons

Sharing your island in Animal Crossing New Horizons with other users on the same Switch has been causing some problems for players. Namely, it seems that players that come after one player already founds an Animal Crossing New Horizons can’t make any major decisions, like donating creatures and moving buildings. Naturally, people are wondering what to do about it. Others are wondering how to add a second player to their island in ACNH. We’re gonna explain the situation in our Problems with Sharing Island & Adding Second Player in Animal Crossing New Horizons guide.

Problems with Sharing Island & Adding Second Player in Animal Crossing New Horizons
Problems with Sharing Island & Adding Second Player in Animal Crossing New Horizons

How to Solve Problems with Sharing Island in Animal Crossing New Horizons?

The main problem with sharing the island in Animal Crossing New Horizons is that people that come to the island second don’t have access to certain mechanics in the game. This is because the user profile that starts the game first acts as the mayor in previous games. Every profile that comes later acts as a villager. The only way to solve this, at least at the time of writing, is to delete the island completely and start anew. Maybe Nintendo will change this in a future patch, but right now, this is the only thing you can do.

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So. the second user that comes to the island can gather resources and do some other basic stuff, but they can’t make any major decisions. This includes things like moving buildings and inviting new villagers. They also can’t donate creatures to Nook, which means that they can’t get recipes that way. They can, however, purchase recipes from Timmy, but only once the main player unlocks them.

So, yeah; users that come to the island after the first player has founded the island are gonna have a drastically different experience. But, you know, maybe have somebody that wants to play the game super-casually on your Switch and play second fiddle. If that’s the case, then keep reading.

Animal Crossing New Horizons – How to Add Second Player to Island?

To add a second player to your island in Animal Crossing New Horizons, you have to create a new profile on your Switch. Then, start the game using that profile, and it will prompt you to create your own New Horizons character. After that, you’ll be able to play as a villager. You will have to deal with the issues we’ve named above; keep that in mind. If you’re looking for how to play the game in co-op multiplayer, we’ve written guides for that too. Specifically, Share Dodo Codes & Invite Friends in Animal Crossing New Horizons and Animal Crossing New Horizons Co-op – Local, Online Multiplayer.

Author JoeTheBard profile picture
A language teacher and video game enthusiast turned rogue, Joe is on a quest to become the ultimate gaming journalist. This is somewhat hampered by his belief that the golden age of gaming ended with the PlayStation One, but he doesn't let that stop him. His favorite games include Soul Reaver and Undertale. Other interests are D'n'D, dad rock, complaining about movies, and being the self-appointed office funny man, which nobody else agrees with.

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  1. O
    Oliver Farrell

    Yeah I hope they change this it’s forced me to stop playing as my gf started the game first and she mainly plays on weekends whilst I was planning on playing during the week but now I can’t even help her do things like build the shop by donating materials and animals I have met and invited from other islands just don’t appear because I’m not the main player. Stupid design decision.

    1. M

      My family is struggling with the same issues right now. The first person to play only plays for an hour a week while the rest of us play daily. Its also proven to be frustrating to share an island with an eight y/o boy who doesn’t think twice about digging holes or taking full advantage of the creating images and placing them of the island feature.

    2. K

      This does not work if the purchased copy is digital. The digital copy of ACNH is bound to one Switch account so you are unable to boot it up as a second switch user.

      1. T

        Kyle, you can totally have two accounts play the same digital copy. My nesting partner and I are playing that way right now actually, I own the game digitally but she plays it way more than I do. She’s frustrated that she misses a lot of recipes and quests, though, as discussed in this article.
        The way the rights management works for the Switch is basically the same as the other major console platforms. When you buy a game, the user that bought the game can play it on any console, and any user can play it on the console it was bought on.

        1. B
          Bailey Bennett

          It’s the same for me and my gf. Only she can play it we tried to make me a character and it says i need to buy the game

          1. F
            Frank Z.

            If she purchased it under her account, she needs to designate that switch as her primary console. Games can be shared with other users on your primary console only.

          2. J
            Julie Rogers

            I don’t understand how people are locked out of doing things? I am the main player and my daughter is 2nd. Since we started the game she has been able to do everything I can. I donated 6 items to Blathers, she the rest. Both of us can donate or sell to Tom & kids. She set up another profile, like you need to do, and has been playing just like me since the release. Our game is the digital version.

        2. T
          Taylor Rouse

          How do you do this exactly? I’m trying to let another account add its house into my island, but when I try to start up the game when logged into another account, it’s making me buy the game on to that account. I bought this game digitally under my account, and it won’t let other users even open it up. Could you walk me through what you did?

          1. F

            So I figured it out with the digital copies. You have to set the Console as your primary console. Once you do you can add a new user without linking in the account.

          2. O

            My brother bought the digital copy and started the game. We all have accounts on the family switch, all I had to do was open the game and select my account. It opened up to a new file. My access the game is slightly limited, I cannot invite villagers but I can donate items, receive quests, go to other islands etc. My brother rarely plays on the game but all our buildings still update as I interact with them. Hope this helps!

        3. M

          Can you walk me through adding a second character with the digital copy because I just bought this game yesterday and the game will not allow me to add another character. So as of right now we have only one character and when we attempt to play the game with another user it tells me that the user is unable to play this game and that we need to purchase the game again

        4. L

          How were you able to add the second account on the digital copy. It keeps giving me an air message saying “this user cannot play this software. If you have not purchased the software, you can do so from Nintendo EShop” ugh my daughter has the physical copy on her switch and can make two accounts but I have the digital copy on my switch and it won’t allow me to add a second account. If you can help me that would be great.

          1. V
            Vanessa Garcia

            Did your question ever get answered because I am having the same issue?

    3. R

      Animals secondary players meet and invite do appear, but the main villager has to initiate it by building their plots. Max 8 villagers.

    4. B

      You can put stuff down that you collect. Your GF can pick up what you put down

    5. B

      This is exactly the same as previous AC games, or, at least, it was the same in New Leaf. First player was Mayor, other players had lesser roles. The biggest difference is that content wasn’t quite as gated in previous games. Maybe they’ll change it – I really wanted yearly “elections” in NL so I could take over as Mayor if more animals liked me – but since this is how they’ve been doing it for awhile, I kind of doubt they will.

  2. N
    Nate Martin

    This needs to get patched. My wife and I want to SHARE the game, not have one person dominate the control of everything.

    1. S
      Savannah Holt

      100% it needs to get patched. I bought the game on our shared switch, but had to work-from-home and let my brother get a head start… and now I have to be bossy about town decisions in a game as well as real life to make sure something crazy doesn’t happen.

  3. O
    Oussama Hajji

    Oh well, I ended up buying a new switch with a digital copy of the game for my wife because of this …

    1. O

      There’s more info in the comments section than the article. Nice.

  4. S

    Does anyone know if the second player is able to use the landscape permit to change up the island? My partner and I aren’t at that stage yet but are considering getting a second switch or switch light so we can both have the same abilities, just seperate islands (sadly.)

    1. A

      Sam and Hajji, yes, the second player DOES get the landscape permit! Husband just got it today as secondary player. So no worries there.

  5. N
    Nadia Plokhooij

    I want to know the same, im the second player and now i want to know if i will get these abilities or else i maybe dont even bother to go further

  6. T

    Can a secondary player make house upgrades. Like all the extra rooms and floors in the house.

  7. T

    Hi, do you know if Nintendo will at least let us help in constructing new residents houses, interior and exterior? Can’t move on as daughter can’t be bothered doing all that!

    1. J

      Nope I had the same problem with my 8 y.o. son so I have to end playing on his account to progress our village. But I collect materials when I play on mine and leave them so his account can use them to build the houses.

  8. N

    How do i get rid of that player after the fact?

  9. W

    Can second player invite friends to the island with dodo code ?

  10. V

    I’m still not able to get my second user on my island. They are a user under my nintendo account’s family plan and this is their primary console.

  11. J

    Yea it’s a big problem, I enjoyed the same till it’s time to build nook’s cranny . As a 2nd player it refused to let me donate or start. I ended up having to give everything my gf who started first. Else no more progression can be done. For this nitendo get a 0/10 review on this game

  12. K

    I have a question that I can’t find the answer to on Google. If I made a second account and joined my island, can I see my original character walking around like an NPC? And visa versa?
    I’m the only one who plays on my Switch but I thought it would make a nice touch to add more “human” villagers, so when I load up my main account and start playing, I can see them all walking around as NPCs. Is this a thing?
    I don’t really want to bother making another account if this won’t happen. If this does happen, how many accounts am I limited to?

    1. A

      No, that’s one thing I miss from new leaf. In new leaf when you went to other real life player houses their person would be asleep in their bed. In this game when your friends aren’t playing their houses are empty but you’re still able to go inside

    2. J

      Can. I created another user today because my friend says can “party play”. Havent tried yet coz still completing the basic tutorial with racoon.

  13. A

    Yeah we just added our friend to our island and he cant even craft anything bc we already upgraded the resident help building so now there’s not a table in it & it won’t let him use any of the other ones we’ve placed ourselves. Super stupid :/

    1. M
      Monika Holub

      This happened to me as well, I added my BF after I upgraded resident services. Now he can’t craft anything. Super lame

      1. J

        You can craft. Just have to go through the tutorial with the racoon.

    2. B

      There is still a crafting table in the resident services building, it’s to the left of Tom Nook

  14. R

    I just tried to create another user so I can have another character on Animal Crossing but for some reason my second character can’t learn the first DIY recipe. I can’t make the fishing pole but every time I click learn, my character asks how could I memorize this recipe. What do I do??

    1. J

      you need to go through the tutorial with tom nook and timmy, i believe one of them will tell you how to use the crafting table and then your able to craft

  15. S

    Has anyone added a second player to a full island? I know that I’ll lose a villager, but will I get to choose who is replaced?

    1. W
      Wendy K

      You will not lose a villager by adding another human player to your island. You can always have 10 total villagers plus users- I’m not certain the limit but we have 3 users and 10 villagers on our first island.

  16. S

    What happens when you add a second player to a full island? I know I’ll lose a villager, but does anyone know if I’ll be prompted to choose who is replaced?

  17. B
    Bec Rebecca

    The fix went smoothly. The problem I have is on the AP on my iPhone, it still has the name of the first erroneous island. Does anyone know how to fix that?

  18. G

    I have my daughter as a second player – we both donate to the museum and donated our final fossil today but it didn’t register with blathers, has anyone else had this?

  19. B

    I couldn’t make a second character under my husband’s already existing profile. I couldn’t make a second character under a new profile. I only get the “this profile hasn’t purchased this software” error. Guess I’ve been gathering items for a second house for literally no reason.

  20. C

    If you have multiple players, can you still have 10 animal villagers on your island?
    I was thinking of adding 2 more accounts so that I could have a cafe house and a clothing store house.

    1. W
      Wendy k

      Yes. You can still have 10 villagers. Your user/player total does not subtract your villagers.

  21. E

    So my daughter is the secondary player on my switch. She was learning how to play, and we ended up getting her her own switch, game, and membership. Is there any way for her character to move from my island to her own? Or will she have to start over and can maybe pick up her belongings after visiting?

  22. C

    We started another profile to our switch so that my daughter could join our game. Our issue is that resident services and nooks cranny are both in their upgraded forms. We don’t know how her character can get things that we got in the original places, such as extended pockets and new hair colours. Anyone know if there’s a way to access those again?

  23. M

    Does anyone know if a second+ player can build bridges? I can alter the landscape and build waterfalls but we could do with new bridges on our (family) island and the primary player rarely plays nowadays.

    1. G

      No, this same problem happenes to me where my sister is the main player so to build bridges and make houses I have
      to go on her account.

  24. U

    But if I want to make a different island, and not join another accounts island. How do I do that?

    1. M

      restart. if you have already saved than get a new game card for a new world

  25. I

    I agree, just yesterday my brother started to want to play the game, so he went to his account and went in the game. When we were at the opening cut scene with Timmy and Tommy, they started talking about Choralmere (The name of my island) and we’re both just kinda like “Meh. I bet its nothing.” But when we got to my island, I saw that he HAD to build a tent on MY island. And I wanted a private island for just me and my residents. I feel very bad for my brother because he wanted to build his own museum and the other stuff, but now he can’t cause he’s on my island. I hope Nintendo fixes this soon.

  26. A

    am I missing something here it seems many people’s issues could be fixed by playing their child’s character if their child no longer is interested? Is something stopping people from joining the game as their children/ partners/brothers? account are you locked out? have they passworded their account and if it is simple vanity of character what is stopping you from changing the look of the primary character? and as you can drop items on the ground for the primary character to pick up it would seem that this is a control issue. This is coop play not independent individuals who just happen to be on the same world play. ie it’s not split-screen its coop.

  27. M

    i deleted the main account thinking it would be okay but when i whent back into the game and saw that i was not the main player i got sad a relized that i could not accses the main player so i cant build or move anything or invite villagers do you know how i can get into that account. please help im dieing.

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