If you own a Nintendo Switch but don‘t want to pay to buy Minecraft, don‘t worry – you have options! While the upfront cost for Minecraft on Switch is usually $29.99, there are several legal and accessible ways to download and play Minecraft for free if you know where to look.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll clearly explain multiple methods for getting Minecraft at no cost on your Nintendo Switch, including free trials, subscriptions, browser play, and more. Read on to learn how you can explore Minecraft‘s endless blocky worlds without spending a dime!
Take Advantage of the Limited Free Trial
The easiest route to playing free Minecraft on your Switch is to download the free demo version from the Nintendo eShop.
Here‘s a quick step-by-step walkthrough to access the Minecraft demo on your console:
From your Switch‘s main menu, open the Nintendo eShop. You can find it as an icon on the homepage.
Once in the eShop, click the search bar at the top right and search for "Minecraft".
In the search results, find the listing for Minecraft and select it to open the game‘s eShop page.
Scroll down on the Minecraft eShop page until you see the button that says "Download Demo Version". Click this to begin downloading the free trial.
After the demo finishes downloading, you can find and launch it from the Switch home screen like any other game. Enjoy!
The Minecraft demo gives you about 90 minutes of play time with the full core game before locking you out and asking you to purchase the full version.
90 minutes is plenty of time to start crafting items, building a small home, fighting some mobs, and getting a feel for Minecraft‘s gameplay to help decide if you want to buy it.
Think of this as your quick, no commitment trial run in Minecraft‘s blocky sandbox world. Take it for a spin and mine some diamonds before the demo expires!
Gain Access through Xbox Game Pass
For unlimited Minecraft play on Nintendo Switch without buying the game outright, your best bet is to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft‘s Netflix-style gaming subscription that grants access to over 100 games for a monthly fee. One of the included titles happens to be Minecraft!
By signing up for Game Pass, you can legally play the full version of Minecraft on Switch for as long as your membership stays active, with no extra costs.
Follow these steps to begin playing Minecraft for free through your Game Pass membership:
Head to the Xbox Game Pass website and click the button to "Join Now". Choose the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan.
Select your preferred membership duration and enter payment details to sign up. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate starts at $14.99 per month.
On your Switch, download and install the Xbox app from the eShop. This is where you‘ll access your Game Pass library.
Open the Xbox app and log in using your Game Pass account details.
Browse or search for Minecraft, then download the game onto your Switch console through the app.
You can now launch and play the full version of Minecraft for free from the Xbox app!
As long as you maintain an active Game Pass membership each month, Minecraft will be playable on your Switch at no extra cost. You‘ll also gain access to multiplayer servers and Realms.
Plus, Game Pass gives you tons of other games to play as part of the subscription – Minecraft is just one piece of the pie! Check out the Game Pass library to explore your free gaming options.
Relive the Classic Days in Your Browser
If you don‘t mind dialing back the Minecraft experience, you can actually play a basic version of the original Minecraft Classic completely free in your web browser.
Minecraft Classic is an earlier iteration of Minecraft from 2009 that lets you build and explore worlds in Creative mode. There‘s no survival elements or mobs, but you can still stack blocks and let your creativity run wild!
To try out Minecraft Classic for some quick, casual free building fun:
Head to the official Minecraft Classic page.
Click the "Play Game" button to launch Minecraft Classic.
Use your keyboard to move around the retro-graphics world and place or destroy blocks.
You won‘t get modern Minecraft features, but Minecraft Classic is a neat little time capsule back to simpler days. Play for free from any web browser when you just feel like zoning out with some blocks.
Explore Multiplayer Servers at No Cost
Online multiplayer servers let you collaborate and compete with other Minecraft players. The good news? You can join free public servers even without buying Minecraft for Switch!
Some top sites that offer access to free Minecraft servers include:
MinecraftOnline – Features a long-running public server with regular players to meet.
MinecraftPvP – Specializes in multiplayer mini-games and PvP maps.
FreeMCServer – Join community survival servers to collaborate.
To get started, pick a server site and follow their instructions to install Minecraft launcher files and connect to active servers for free play. Being part of an online world and community takes the Minecraft experience to the next level without costing a cent!
Use "Cracked" Launchers at Your Own Risk
Warning: I don‘t formally recommend this method as it breaches Minecraft‘s EULA, but will mention it for informational purposes.
You can use certain third-party "cracked" Minecraft launchers to play offline without owning the game. However, this bypasses DRM protection and falls into a legal grey area.
If you do decide to carefully try this route, use trusted software like TLauncher to install an offline cracked version of Minecraft. You can then make a free account and play singleplayer worlds and minigames while offline.
Again, this involves unofficial software and you do so at your own risk. I suggest trying the other free options first! But the choice is ultimately yours.
Keep Watch for Rare Free Download Promotions
Occasionally for special events or milestones, Minecraft‘s developers Mojang will make the Switch edition available for free download for a very limited time.
For example, when Minecraft crossed a major sales milestone Mojang let new players get the game at no cost for one weekend. Similarly, they‘ve offered free Minecraft as part of their annual Minecraft Festival celebrations.
While promotions like these are infrequent, be sure to follow Minecraft news so you can snag the game free if they ever run another promotional deal like this! Jumping on brief free download periods is a good chance to grab Minecraft without paying a cent.
Borrow the Physical Cartridge from a Friend
If you know someone who already owns a physical copy of Minecraft for Nintendo Switch, ask nicely and they may let you borrow their game card!
By temporarily using your friend‘s Minecraft cartridge, you can install and open the full game on your own Switch to play for free.
Just be sure you:
Ask politely if you can borrow their copy for a bit and agree to return it.
Once done playing, fully close the software before taking out the borrowed cartridge.
Return your friend‘s copy in a timely manner and thank them for letting you play for free!
Obviously this only works if you have a friend willing to share. But it‘s a very direct way to access Minecraft at zero cost if you can coordinate a cartridge swap.
Will Minecraft Ever Be Free Permanently?
While just speculation, there is a chance Minecraft could someday become free-to-play or be bundled into services like Xbox Game Pass permanently.
Here are a few key reasons why Minecraft may eventually become free:
It‘s approaching 10 years old. Many games shift to free models later in their lifecycles.
Microsoft owns Minecraft and could leverage it to drive Game Pass subscriptions or Microsoft account adoption.
A free-to-play version with paid DLC/expansions may help combat piracy concerns.
However, Minecraft still sells extremely well at its current $29.99 price point, so going permanently free doesn‘t quite make financial sense yet.
But down the road, a bold move to free-to-play isn‘t out of the question! For now, take advantage of the other free access options. But also keep an eye out for potential business model shifts.
Summary – Play Minecraft on Switch for Free!
While buying Minecraft is the only way to permanently own the game on Nintendo Switch, you have quite a few options to enjoy Minecraft for free:
Try the limited-time Minecraft demo from the eShop
Subscribe to Xbox Game Pass to play the full game
Experience retro Creative mode fun with Minecraft Classic
Join free multiplayer servers and communities
Carefully use "cracked" launchers offline (at your own risk)
Watch for occasional free download events
Borrow the physical cartridge from a friend
With the tips in this guide, you can craft, mine, build and explore to your heart‘s content in Minecraft‘s blocky worlds without spending a dime.
The free trial gives you a solid taster, while Xbox Game Pass grants you unlimited access for a monthly fee. Or relive simpler times in Minecraft Classic from your browser.
No matter which free route you choose, endless adventures await inside Minecraft‘s virtual sandbox universe. Now go forth and enjoy Minecraft on Nintendo Switch cost-free! Let me know if you have any other questions.