In 2015, digital music surpassed physical revenues worldwide for the first time. Streaming videos are starting to overtake physical blu-rays and DVDs. Video games are no different, digital sales have risen year over year. It is clear that digital media is the way of the future and we are headed that way quicker than you may think.
The Nintendo Switch comes out in less that ten days and I have often thought about if I will be buying games digitally or physically. In the last six months I have been leaning more towards digital games on my PlayStation 4, simply due to the convenience. I love the fact that I can preload a game onto my console and have it playable at midnight on the day of its release without leaving my own home. I do understand that some people do not have an incredibly high internet speed and some people do have data caps to worry about. I also do understand that people love having a real, physical copy on their shelf that they can look at, touch and play.
But back to the Switch, I want to go over some of the pros to buying games digitally. It is much more feasible to have all of your games downloaded onto your Switch without having to constantly switching cartridges in and out of your console. This is great too if you travel often. There are carrying cases you can purchase that have cartridge housing included but when you travel, you don’t want to have the burden of carrying some of your games with you and risk losing them. Another pro is that digital purchases are now linked to your Nintendo ID and not only the hardware. On all of Nintendo’s past consoles and handhelds that have digital downloads, if they break beyond repairment you would lose all of your digital games with it. But now you can now delete games off of one device and re-download them to another device as long as your Nintendo ID is on it.
Now I want to go over some of the cons. The internal storage of the Switch is only 32GB but including the operating system’s space, you are left with a total of 25.9GB of storage. This is not that much space. To put it in perspective, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes up 13.4GB of space meaning that half of your storage would already be filled. If you wanted to play Dragon Quest Heroes 1&2 digitally on the Switch’s internal storage alone you would simply not be able to. The games file size is 32GB meaning that you would have to purchase a microSD card to expand your system’s storage and add extra cost to your device. The largest sized microSD card on the market is 256GB and that can run you around $160 and up. The Switch can support up to 1TB of storage but those do not exist for the consumer yet.
On the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One you can set it up to where you can play the same game on two different consoles at the same time through game sharing. This feature is not supported on the Nintendo Switch unfortunately.
If you usually buy games physically, you probably have your minds made up already. But if you are leaning more towards digital but cannot make a decision, I think you should wait to see how Nintendo handles things moving forward. For myself, I will wait to make a decision. I’ll start off by buying games physically then perhaps make the jump to digital when I feel better about everything or when I have the money to purchase a high storage microSD card.