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Nintendo Switch and the Return of Cartridge-based Console Gaming

September 4, 2016

Understandably, this is a thing again (But really, it never went away).

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With the advancement of flash-based memory in recent years, it was only a short matter of time before one of the major 3 home console developers got involved in the format, exclusively.

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That being said, Nintendo has never left the cartridge-based world, entirely - with something like seven or eight iterations of the DS/3DS over the last decade, they have continued producing flash-memory based chips to store their handheld games on, while they have moved on to use multiple disc-based formats for their home consoles.

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Disc-based gaming has forced the hands of developers for a long time, due to its inherent limitations. While developers have created some incredible and seamless work-arounds to avoid loading screens (I'm looking at you Uncharted/God of War/No Man's Sky), Cartridges would be able to be loaded much faster, which would cut down on loading screens, in general.

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Could we be playing the new LoZ in cartridge format when the NX launches? Yes, please

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Cartridges would also be more durable, and longer lasting. Anyone who has ever seen kids around dvd or Blu-ray Discs would know that the discs don't stand a chance, and typically don't work forever. With a few scratches, your $70 game becomes nothing more than a coaster; and, with publishers being overly resilient to the concept of bundled digital copy + disc formats, it just makes sense to move to a simpler and more durable format.

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It's also likely that the move to cartridges will make console production considerably cheaper for Nintendo - the fewer mechanical parts, the better. Nintendo is also a company keen on keeping things proprietary, and a cartridge-based console would fulfill this part of their business strategy.

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Overall, I think Nintendo is making the right choice, if this is, indeed, the way they intend to pursue. The news is all rumor at this point, but I'm still glad to imagine a future where all the discs are just a memory. Like the UMD's, Hi-def discs, laser discs, and tiny GameCube discs before them, bluray and dvd might be on their way out for good from the gaming world.

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Get ready, world. We could once again be on the path to hyperventilating while to blowing into of some dusty carts!

--Alex

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