Buy games for Nintendo Switch: physical or digital?


Nintendo Switch allows players to decide whether to buy games in physical format (as they have done all their lives) or to buy them digitally through Nintendo eShop. What is better? We analyze it point by point.

By now, it’s undeniable that the Nintendo Switch is the best thing to happen to the Big N in a long, long time. The hybrid console has become the third best-selling platform in history , with more than 122 million consoles spread around the world.

In fact, Nintendo Switch already eats at the same table as PS2 (Sony’s legendary console) and Nintendo DS. Will he be able to reach them? Never say Never.

In its seventh year of life, the hybrid console is preparing for a generational change… but not before offering us exclusives like Pikmin 4, Bayonetta Origins or Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom .

Do you have a Nintendo Switch ? In that case, you probably have a shelf full of titles for the hybrid system… or maybe you have several micro SD cards with countless games. Or both, of course.

When it comes to Switch, there is an interesting debate about whether it is better to buy physical games (with their box, although without an instruction manual, with some honorable exceptions ) or if it is time to take the final leap towards digital.

Either way, you’ll enjoy great games on your Nintendo Switch. Is it better to buy in physical format or bet on Nintendo eShop and its digital games? We analyze it.

Physical or digital games: what is better on Nintendo Switch?

Storage space
second hand and share games
special editions
rare games to watch

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Unlike what happens with PlayStation and Xbox, Nintendo Switch does not install the physical games on the console. This means that the vast majority (or all) of the game content is included in the cartridge .

There are some exceptions, such as BioShock: The Collection or NBA 2K23, which require an additional download of content via the Internet. However, most physical Switch games do not install data on the system.

This means that, beyond updates and save data, physical games take up less space on Switch’s storage than digital ones. In the case of the digital format, for obvious reasons, all the content is installed .

What is the best special edition of Nintendo Switch?

Remember that Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite only have 32GB of internal storage, while OLED has twice that (64GB). Of course, you can expand it with micro SD cards .

If we take all this into account, from a storage point of view we opted for the games in physical format . We will see what decision Nintendo makes with the successor to Switch.


Physical games may take up less space, but we must not forget that, in the middle of 2023, it is much more comfortable to opt for digital games. Because? Well, for two reasons: physical space and accessibility .

If we want to buy a physical Nintendo Switch game, we must go to a store or place an order online. In other words, we won’t have the game immediately (and in the case of new releases, we will have to wait).

This is totally different in the case of digital games. If you want a title available on Nintendo eShop, just buy it and play . Some titles are available from 00:01, and sometimes stores can’t start selling them until they open to the public.

Hand on heart, we’re better off waiting for the game to download and install (depending on the speed of your internet connection) than waiting to get our hands on the game.

And, of course, stockpiling physical games on the shelf can be cool, but there will come a day when they won’t fit. Your digital library, on the other hand, does not occupy any physical space , beyond the microSD. Main point.


It is a reality that Nintendo Switch games take longer to drop in price . It is true that its launch PVP is below the standards of PlayStation, Xbox or even PC, but it is rare to find Zelda: Breath of the Wild for less than 40 euros (six years after its launch).

Are there differences between physical and digital games in this regard? Certainly not. If we talk about launch games, it is more feasible to get hold of them in physical format.

However, when time passes, Nintendo usually offers juicy deals on the eShop (especially for indies and multiplatforms), with small discounts for its first party catalog.

It depends on each game, the time of year and the edition you want. In reality we cannot highlight a great difference in price ( the standard output is 45-50 euros).

Therefore, sometimes we recommend you to keep an eye on Nintendo eShop and its offers , but it will not necessarily be cheaper than buying a new physical game (and vice versa).

the art of sharing

All digital games you purchase will be linked to your N

intendo Switch account . This means that anyone who has access to your account will be able to play these titles.

There is a method to share Nintendo Switch digital games, although for this you need a second console . It’s pretty easy to do (but not as easy as leaving a physical cartridge).

It consists of disabling the main console condition for your Nintendo Switch. Select the user profile icon in Nintendo eShop, and scroll to the bottom. Select the option to disable logging as primary console.

Now, sign in with your account on a second Nintendo Switch. From now on, that console becomes the main one, and can play all titles (on all users). To do this on the first Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to be connected to the internet and ”online,” although there are some limitations.

In the same way, physical games can be sold in specialized stores (such as GAME), or in specialized auction or exchange portals. And we can also take advantage of the second hand .

In general, the physical format allows a greater range of options when it comes to trading, selling or sharing Nintendo Switch games.

This is not necessarily better, but if you have siblings, many friends or your partner is a gamer, you may be more interested in betting on the physical format .

collector’s editions

It may be too obvious, but it is so. The most impressive collector’s editions are not available in digital format. What’s more, from time to time Limited Run Games surprises us with special editions of games that, until then, could not be purchased in physical form.

This does not mean that there are no special editions in digital format. Many games have Deluxe or GOTY editions , which incorporate new content, DLCs or expansions.

However, many gamers prefer a good collector’s edition in their hands. You know, with its case or steelbook box, art book, instruction manual or figures.

Therefore, we have no choice but to recommend physical ahead of digital in this regard . What’s more, games like Cuphead have ended up arriving in physical format with all the content thanks to distributors like Meridiem Games.

discontinued games

We end with a point in which the digital prevails over the physical. What’s more, this aspect affects not only Nintendo Switch , but also the rest of the platforms (whether current or retro).

Sometimes really good games (and hidden gems) have very short runs in physical format. This causes the game to sell out in a matter of days or a few months. As it happened with Hades.

Over time, achieving it becomes a chimera. And not for reasons of availability, but because its price has risen like foam. This is the case of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Ys VIII, Bayonetta 2, Skyrim, The Caligula Effect, Okami HD or Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Torna .

For example, a hard-to-find physical game for Nintendo Switch is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Its price already exceeds 60 or 70 euros , while in the eShop from time to time it is available for 29.99 euros (in offer campaigns).

Faced with this growing problem, the digital format emerges as a solution. Perhaps some think that “it is not the same”, but it is the only way to have them without spending a lot of money. But going digital also has long-term problems, as is currently the case with the 3DS and Wii U eShop .

If you are one of those who are obsessed with rare games, old ports or limited physical editions, then we recommend that you prepare your wallet, because things do not seem to improve. And in that case, digital is a way to spend less, although it will have a lot less charm.

After analyzing both formats and highlighting their advantages and disadvantages, the truth is that the physical format continues to gain some ground over digital when we talk about Nintendo Switch. However, it is true that digital is growing by leaps and bounds.

The fact of saving free space, being able to exchange games or enjoying collector’s editions are compelling arguments for opting for the physical format. At least, if we talk about Nintendo Switch.

What format is your favorite for Nintendo Switch games ? It’s always a good idea to shop around the eShop (sometimes there are great bargains), so it’s best to alternate between the two formats with an eye on the successor to the hybrid console.