Should You Buy Physical or Digital Nintendo Switch Games?

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Should You Buy Physical or Digital Nintendo Switch Games?

There are a ton of amazing games to play on the Nintendo Switch. Whether you choose to play Mario Odyssey, Metroid Dread, or Animal Crossing, you’re sure to have a good time. But after you’ve picked which game to play next, you’ll have to decide whether to purchase it physically or digitally.

As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. We’ll evaluate physical and digital Nintendo Switch games to help you choose the best format for your next buy.

Storage Space

Internal storage in the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite is 32GB, while the Switch OLED has 64GB. When you download a game from the eShop, it takes up part of the available storage space.

When you consider that Breath of the Wild is 14.4GB, it’s easy to understand how a few titles might easily occupy that capacity. This is particularly true for large-scale games such as The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, which is 32GB in size.

Fortunately, you can increase the Switch’s storage with microSD cards up to 2TB (more than enough for many Switch titles), although this comes at an extra cost.

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a MicroSD Card

When you purchase a physical game, you do not have the same problem. While physical games will store certain files to internal storage, such as updates and save data, the majority will stay on the cartridge. It means you don’t have to worry about running out of storage space or deleting games to create room for new ones.

However, real-world room is required to keep actual game boxes, although Switch game cases are small.

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Winner: Physical


switch games on a retail shelf
Image Credit: Shuang Li/Shutterstock

Convenience is important if you’re lounging around one day and want to purchase a new Switch game. If you choose physical, you must either visit a shop (if it is open and has the game in stock) or purchase it online and wait for delivery.

The only delay with digital is how soon your connection can download the game. Granted, for those with bad connections, the former may be the faster alternative.

Nonetheless, digital triumphs in this case. This is particularly true with pre-orders, which are downloaded to your machine before to release. When midnight arrives and the game is released, you may start playing right away.

Winner: Digital


First-party Nintendo games are infamous for seldom dropping in price. You may wait years and yet pay the same price for a Nintendo game as someone who purchased it at launch. Other publishers’ and creators’ games, on the other hand, are a little different.

If you want to get the greatest price for a game, you should purchase it in physical and second-hand form long after it has been released. The enthusiasm will have worn off, and the game will be unable to attract a high asking price. The issue is that many Switch games, particularly those from independent creators, are not physically accessible.

Related: The Best Game Discount Sites to Buy Cheap Video Games

The Nintendo eShop does offer periodic promotions, particularly around the holidays, although they aren’t always cheaper than purchasing from a shop like Amazon or a key seller.

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Winner: Draw


switch game cartridge
Image Credit: Kyli Petersen/Shutterstock

The Switch is a portable gadget by design. Though you may use it as a standard console on your TV, you can also detach it from the dock and transport it wherever you like. This implies that game portability is critical.

Unlike the Xbox Series S/X and PS5, which employ standard discs that are cumbersome to transport, the Switch uses tiny cartridges. It’s fair to stuff a few of them into your luggage or Nintendo Switch travel case without worrying about them taking up too much room or weight too much.

Nothing, however, rivals the mobility of digital. You don’t need to remember to carry anything other than the console since all of your games are saved on it.

Winner: Digital

Sharing and Resale

If you like playing games with your pals, you’ll have to purchase them in person. While some systems allow you to share digital games (such as the PS5’s Share Play function), the Switch does not. End of story. Digital games are linked to your Nintendo account.

In contrast, you may gift your actual game cartridge to anybody you like, and they can play the game on their Switch at their leisure. Of course, this means you won’t be able to play the game until they return it.

The same is true for resale; you can get some money back on your purchase by trading it in at sites like GameStop or selling it online via eBay, but you can’t do so with a digital buy.

Winner: Physical

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When you purchase a digital game, you may get a few extras such as avatars, wallpapers, or the soundtrack, although this is uncommon. Plus, you can frequently receive rewards outside of the game via programs like My Nintendo Rewards.

As a result, if you like tangible stuff such as posters, pins, and other mementos, physical is the way to go. While ordinary Switch releases are unlikely to contain anything other than the cartridge (even a manual is uncommon today), firms such as Limited Run Games make high-quality collector’s editions chock-full of tangible goodies.

Winner: Physical

Physical vs. Digital: Which Is Best?

When it comes to the dispute between physical and digital Switch titles, there is no clear winner. Much of it is a matter of personal choice. If you like having shelves lined with your games on which to peruse and recall, physical is the way to go.

If you like the ease and quickness that digital purchases provide, and you don’t want game boxes laying around, you should go digital.

Remember, you don’t always have to choose one over the other. If you know your whole buddy group wants to play a certain game, get a hard copy and share the cost. If your next game is a little independent that only you want, you can acquire it digitally.

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