XCI File - What is a .xci file and how to open it? (2024)

What is an XCI file?

An XCI file, also known as “NX Card Image” file, is a file format used for storing Nintendo Switch game cartridges’ data; these files are typically used in context of Nintendo Switch homebrew software, backup utilities and custom firmware (CFW) installations; contain game’s ROM data and can be loaded onto Nintendo Switch using custom firmware or other tools allowing users to play games from XCI files without the need for physical game cartridges.

XCI files are specifically designed for use with Nintendo Switch gaming console; can be played on Nintendo Switch using custom firmware called SX OS which can be loaded onto console using Xecuter SX Pro tool. SX OS enables you to play Nintendo Switch homebrew applications and XCI backup files. XCI files are encrypted and in order to use them, you need access to console’s master keys; therefore, it is recommended that you only use XCI files for games that you legally own.

Nintendo Switch and XCI files

The Nintendo Switch and XCI files are interconnected and XCI files are specific file format used in context of Nintendo Switch game cartridges; here is some more information about XCI files and how they relate to Nintendo Switch:

  1. XCI Files: XCI files are file format used to store game data from Nintendo Switch game cartridges. These files contain game’s code, assets and save data in format that can be loaded onto Nintendo Switch console for playing games without the need for physical cartridge.

  2. Custom Firmware and Homebrew: XCI files are often associated with use of custom firmware (CFW) on Nintendo Switch. Custom firmware, such as SX OS allows users to play games from XCI files as well as homebrew applications and other unofficial software. It is important to note that using CFW and XCI files may void your warranty and potentially infringe on Nintendo’s terms of service.

  3. Legal Considerations: When it comes to XCI files, it is essential to use them legally. Distributing or using XCI files for games you do not own is considered piracy and is illegal. Using XCI files for making backup copies of games you own may be a legitimate use but the legality can vary by region and may be subject to specific terms and conditions.

  4. Decryption and Conversion: XCI files are usually encrypted and to use them, you may need to decrypt them. Decryption can be done using tools like hactool and XCI files can also be converted to other formats such as NSP (Nintendo Submission Package) for use with different homebrew and CFW tools.

  5. Emulators: XCI files can also be used with Nintendo Switch emulators like Yuzu and Ryujinx. Emulators require decrypted XCI files or other formats to run games on computer.

XCI Switch Games

XCI Switch games are game files designed for Nintendo Switch console, stored in XCI file format; these files contain entire game’s code, assets and save data allowing players to enjoy games without need for physical game cartridges; to use XCI Switch games, custom firmware (CFW) like SX OS or Atmosphere is often required enabling players to run games from XCI files and potentially offering additional features and customizations; it is vital to emphasize legal aspect of using XCI files, as playing games from XCI files you don’t own can infringe on copyright and intellectual property rights, potentially leading to legal repercussions. While some users create XCI files as backups of their legitimately owned games, it is important to use XCI files responsibly and within the boundaries of law. These files are also compatible with Nintendo Switch emulators like Yuzu and Ryujinx which require decrypted XCI files to run games on a computer expanding the range of options for enjoying Nintendo Switch titles.

How to play XCI files on Switch

Playing XCI files on Nintendo Switch typically involves using custom firmware (CFW) or compatible homebrew loader; here is a general outline of steps involved:

  1. Prepare Your Nintendo Switch:

    • Ensure your Nintendo Switch is compatible with custom firmware; check model and firmware version as compatibility may vary.
  2. Obtain Custom Firmware (CFW):

    • Install a custom firmware like SX OS, Atmosphere or other CFW of your choice. The installation process can vary depending on the CFW so follow specific instructions for the one you choose.
  3. Prepare Your XCI Files:

    • You will need XCI game files. These files must be legally owned or created from your own game cartridges.
  4. Transfer XCI Files:

    • Transfer XCI files to your Nintendo Switch; you can do this via an SD card, USB connection or network transfer depending on your CFW and its features.
  5. Access Homebrew Launcher:

    • Access homebrew launcher on your Nintendo Switch typically via a specific button combination or software exploit.
  6. Run the Homebrew Software:

    • Use homebrew application that supports playing XCI files such as “Tinfoil” or “Goldleaf.”, follow the application’s instructions to install and play games.
  7. Launch XCI Games:

    • In homebrew software, navigate to XCI game file you want to play and select it; the software will install and run game.
  8. Play the Game:

    • Once installed, you can launch and play game just like you would with a legitimate copy.

How to open an XCI file?

Programs that open XCI files include

  • SciresM hactool (Free) for (Windows, Linux)

“hactool” is a command-line utility developed by SciresM for working with Nintendo Switch files, including decrypting, extracting and viewing information about various file formats used on Nintendo Switch.


XCI File - What is a .xci file and how to open it? (2024)
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