Nintendo Switch

Digital vs. Physical Games on Switch: Pros and Cons

The Nintendo Switch offers games in two main formats: physical and digital. Physical games are tangible cartridges you can hold, insert, and remove from the Switch console. In contrast, digital games are intangible versions that you download and store either on the console’s internal memory or an external SD card.

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons of each format to help you decide which might be more suitable for you.

Digital vs. Physical Games on Switch:

Digital Games:

Digital games for the Nintendo Switch are accessible directly from the comfort of your console via the Nintendo eShop, an integrated online storefront. These games are stored directly on your Switch’s internal memory or an SD card, eliminating the need for tangible cartridges and allowing for a seamless gaming experience.

If you’re contemplating the digital route for your game library, here’s a closer look at the potential benefits and drawbacks:


  1. Convenience: No need to switch out physical cartridges; you can swap between games with just a few button presses.
  2. Portability: This makes traveling with the Switch easier as you don’t need to carry around multiple game cartridges.
  3. Sales and Deals: The Nintendo eShop occasionally has sales that might provide discounts on digital games.
  4. Immediate Access: Once purchased, the game can be downloaded and played almost immediately, depending on your internet speed.
  5. No Wear and Tear: Digital games can’t be lost, broken, or worn out as physical cartridges might.


  1. Storage Space: Digital games can fill up your Switch’s internal storage or your microSD card quite quickly, especially with larger titles.
  2. No Resell Value: You can’t sell, trade, or give away a digital game.
  3. Download Time: Depending on the game’s size and your internet speed, it might take a while to download.

Physical Games:

Physical games for the Nintendo Switch can be found in various electronic and entertainment stores around the world, from specialized game retailers to general electronic marketplaces. These games are presented as compact cartridges, neatly tucked into slim cases, which are designed to be user-friendly and space-saving.

Considering a physical game purchase for your Switch? Let’s delve into the pros and cons to guide your choice:


  1. Tangible Ownership: Many players appreciate having a physical cartridge and case, which can sometimes include bonus items like artbooks or posters.
  2. Resell Value: Physical games can be sold, traded, or given away.
  3. Save Storage Space: While some data will still be saved on your Switch, the bulk of the game data remains on the cartridge.
  4. Collectibility: Physical games can become collectible items, especially limited or special editions.
  5. No Need to Download: Except for updates, you can play the game right away without waiting for a large download.


  1. Risk of Loss or Damage: Physical cartridges can be lost, stolen, or damaged.
  2. Less Convenience: If you want to swap games, you need to physically change the cartridge.
  3. Occasional Installations or Updates: Some physical games might still require installations or updates which take up storage space.

Choosing Your Game Format: Tailoring Your Nintendo Switch Experience

Given the detailed breakdown of the pros and cons for digital and physical games on the Nintendo Switch, the decision between the two formats depends on individual preferences and priorities. Here’s a guide to help determine which format might be more suitable for different types of players:

Digital Games might be more suitable for:

  1. Frequent Travelers: Players who are often on the move might benefit from the convenience and portability of digital games. No need to carry cartridges around.
  2. Impatient Gamers: If you’re the type to want access to a game immediately upon release, digital might be the way to go.
  3. Deal Hunters: Those who frequently keep an eye on the eShop for sales and discounts could get more value from digital purchases.
  4. Gamers Prone to Losing Items: If you often misplace things, the non-tangible nature of digital games might be a plus.
  5. Switch Lite Users: Players using the Nintendo Switch Lite, which is designed primarily for handheld use, might find the convenience of digital games appealing.

Physical Games might be more suitable for:

  1. Collectors: If you take joy in displaying your game collection, physical editions – especially special or limited ones – are for you.
  2. Budget-conscious Gamers: With the option to buy used games, trade, sell, or lend games to friends, physical games can be more economical in the long run.
  3. Players with Limited Internet: If you have slow or capped internet, the smaller updates for physical games might be more manageable than full-game downloads.
  4. Conservative on Storage: If you don’t want to invest in large SD cards or frequently manage storage, physical games can help conserve space on the Switch.
  5. Gift Givers: Physical games make for tangible gifts, which can be wrapped and presented on special occasions.

In the end, many players find a balance between the two formats, opting for digital versions of some titles while preferring physical copies for others. It’s all about finding what fits best with your gaming lifestyle and preferences.

Alex Henderson

Alex Henderson, known to the online gaming community as "GameMaster", brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to the world of video games. With over 15 years of experience, Alex has worked as a game tester, programmer, and designer for several top gaming companies before deciding to share his insights and reviews with the gaming community. He specializes in RPGs and adventure games, but his love for gaming knows no genre boundaries. Alex's goal is to help gamers of all levels navigate the exciting and ever-evolving world of gaming.

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