Physical Games vs Digital Games
Buying physical game cartridges verses digital copies is a personal decision. To help here are the pros and cons on each.
Physical Games – Pros
- You own your copy of the game.
- You can resell any games you finish. Keep the case and you’ll find an audience for used games from several sources. Sell to a game store for credit, or make more cash selling to others via eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or /r/GameSale.
- Can loan it to friends/family. The save data is in each Switch’s internal memory.
- Can take advantage of sales from various resellers, or use gift cards/store credit.
- Can buy pre-owned games for less.
- Easier for grandparents to buy for you.
- Don’t need a microSD card, or a smaller/cheaper card.
- Display the game cases.
Physical Games – Cons
- Have to swap cartridges when changing games.
- Need a case with enough space for all your games, or choose which ones to leave at home.
- Slowest load times (by a few seconds).
- If you lose it then it is gone.
- Removing cartridge without closing game can corrupt game saves.
- Store and keep up with case to maximize resell value.
- Tastes bad.
Digital Games – Pros
- No swapping cartridges.
- No need to select which games to pack.
- Faster load times. Best load times are from the limited internal memory, followed by from microSD card. Cartridges load the slowest.
- Even if you lose your Switch you can re-download your games onto a new one.
- Better for the environment… probably.
Digital Games – Cons
- You are paying for a license to play, you do not own the game. Nintendo can take it away from you under extreme circumstances.
- Can’t resell any games.
- Games are linked to a single Nintendo account, which in turn can only be linked to one Switch at a time.
- Limited discounts: only eShop sales and sales on eShop cards.
- Difficult for anyone without a Nintendo device to buy for you. Ask for eShop cards instead.
- Need to buy a microSD card (128GB or larger) to hold your collection.
Many smaller games are digital only. If Nintendo ports any older titles to the Switch those will also be digital only. It is difficult to avoid digital games altogether. And nothing says you can’t have a mixed collection: digital for games you plan to keep, physical for the rest.
These are common Switch accessories with specific recommendations. Not every Switch owner needs every accessory.
The most common ‘Day 1’ recommendation from Switch owners is to install a screen protector. For best results run a hot shower in your bathroom to create steam (reduces dust), then apply in the bathroom. Don’t place in the dock until the next day, the heat can cause bubbles before it settles.
Give the Joy-Cons and included grip a shot before you buy an expensive controller. They are new for everyone and take a little getting use to. If you don’t like them there are plenty of options available.
Holds everything but the dock, including 19 game slots and 2 microSD card slots. The small zipper pull on the top compartment is to avoid scratching your games or Switch. Available with some color accents: red, blue, green, and purple.
Carrying Case, Including Dock
With physical games: iVoler Nintendo Switch Game Traveler Deluxle and Storage Case
Without physical games: AmazonBasics Travel and Storage Case for Nintendo Switch
- 64GB – A few digital games, but otherwise buying physical
- 128GB – Better future proofing, best value when on sale
- 200GB – Largest capacity with good $ per GB value, great for lots of digital games
- 256GB and higher is not good value currently. Wait until prices are closer to $0.35/GB.
Testing has shown the Switch doesn’t take advantage of faster SD cards. As long as the card meets UHS-1 specs it is as fast as anything else. So focus on capacity and cost.
Charger & Power Bank
Use Nintendo’s dock. Third party options have mixed reviews. Many have reports of video issues, or issues with certain power adapters. One brand was damaging Switches.
If you really want a more portable dock do your homework. Check reviews and look for red flags. See what other Switch owners recommend.
On the Switch there are three data storage points:
- System memory, 32GB
- microSD card (optional), 32GB – 256GB
- Game cartridge (ignore if you buy digital games)
Different data is stored in different locations:
- Game Save Data – Always saved to internal memory.
- Game DLC/Digital Game/App Downloads – Save point set in Switch’s Data Management settings. Can be set to system memory or microSD card if installed. Games on system memory load faster (by a few seconds).
- Screenshots/Videos – Save point set in Switch’s Data Management settings. Can be set to system memory or microSD card if installed. Best to set to microSD card.
Archiving software means deleting software. The Switch will keep any game save data, then delete the game and any related downloads. You must reinstall the game to play again, but you can pick up where you left off.
Some digital games will need a microSD card, due to their size.
How To Transfer Digital Games/Game DLC Downloads To microSD Card
If you downloaded any game or update before installing a microSD card that data is on your system memory. To move it to a new SD card requires deleting and re-downloading the software (you don’t lose your game save data).
- Insert the microSD card.
- Go to System Settings, Data Management, Manage Software.
- Select the game you want to transfer.
- Select Archive Software.
- Select Archive (saves data then deletes game).
- Press Home button.
- Select archived game on Home screen.
- Select Download.
Buying a game not available in your region or taking advantage of an eShop sale overseas can be tempting. But it isn’t as easy as switching your country setting.
Game cartridges are not region locked.
Digital games/software from a different region will work on any Switch. But, Nintendo does not test all software for all regions so your experience may vary.
Games from a different region will run in your system’s default language if your language is in the game.
Your Nintendo account’s country setting determines your eShop region. You can change this setting to access a new region. Note you cannot switch regions while carrying a balance in the eShop.
You can also setup a new Nintendo account for the new region. Link the new account to your Switch alongside your regular account.
Paying In Other Regions
Here is where buying in another region stops most people. You cannot use eShop cards, credit cards, or a PayPal account from one eShop region in another region. You also cannot transfer regions when you have funds in your eShop, so you can’t transfer funds that way.
Your best option is to buy eShop cards for another region online, then use that to buy a game. Expect to pay more than face value for the eShop cards.