I got my Switch exactly one year ago, and I've spent hundreds of hours (and dollars) on games for the newest Nintendo console. But unlike all the consoles I've had, I bought exactly one physical game for the Switch – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – which I ordered along with my Switch to have something to play when it arrived. outside. I know I'm probably late for this party, but the Switch feels like the first console that really defends the fact of … leaving the physical games forever.
A lot of that has to do with how I use the switch and its portable nature. I take my switch basically everywhere, on the train to work in the morning, on plane trips, on weekends at my parents' house, and having all my games with me to play when I want is a great addition. The ability to play Zelda anywhere is good, but the ability to play Zelda and Mario Odyssey and Sonic Mania and Splatoon 2 and Rocket League and Stardew Valley and Celeste and Overcooked and Mario Kart and Tumbleseed anywhere is even better.
Part of my decision is practical. Even fans of the toughest cartridges will need to invest in some extra memory, since larger games such as Doom can not fit into 32GB Switch cartridges. You will be stuck dealing with downloads anyway. (Apparently, Nintendo is working on larger 64GB cartridges, but they have been delayed until 2019.) Downloadable games also allow you to play games that are only available in other countries; As my colleague Sam Byford pointed out, the fact that the Switch is not blocked by regions makes this a more viable option.
Switch's line-up is full of excellent indies like Celeste, who normally do not see a physical version, so downloads are the only option for many of the best games on the console. It is useful that Nintendo does its part to encourage digital purchases through regular sales in eShop, and not only for independent titles, but also larger versions such as Splatoon 2, Arms and Mario + Rabbids.
Photo of James Bareham / The Verge
I will be the first to admit that Nintendo could do more to make everything digital more viable. The company absolutely needs to improve its account system to allow users to transfer accounts and games between devices. The current system is complex and frustrating at best, and there is the possibility of losing all your games if you lose your console. (Users have to deactivate the previous device in order to transfer their account to a new one on that device, so if you lose your console, there is no way to do that, except contact Nintendo for direct assistance). It is especially frustrating because this is a solved problem: Sony and Microsoft discovered it years ago for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which simply allow users to log in to a new console and download all their purchases without any problem.
In addition, Nintendo needs to find some kind of cloud storage system or a way to transfer files saved between consoles. At this time, Switch cartridges do not even offer one of the best benefits of cartridges, which is that they can store data to transfer between devices. With the switch, whether the game is downloaded or the physical copy, all the saved data is stored in the console. Again, this is something that other companies discovered a long time ago. Microsoft has saved in the cloud for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and Sony includes it as part of its PlayStation Plus subscription service (along with the option to move files saved using a flash drive).
There are other benefits of continuing with outdated cartridges. Unlike digital titles, it's easier to return or resell games you finished or did not like. And the fact that he can get his copy of Zelda and lend it to a friend for a few weeks is something that will probably never be possible with a digital copy. There is also the problem that physical copies of games, particularly older titles, tend to become cheaper as time passes, unlike the relatively stagnant digital market.
But for me, the advantages of digital games fit perfectly with the mentality of playing anywhere on the Switch. At this point, it is impossible for me to return to the cartridges. That said, I asked for a game card for my Switch this weekend: a new microSD card to store more digital games.