Modern games can be pretty beefy. It’s becoming all too common for the majority of AAA titles these days to hit either close to or even beyond the 100GB mark on PC and consoles. This has put Switch developers in a bit of an odd spot, as physical releases on Switch have been maxed out to 32GB with a download required if the game exceeds that limit. Now, developers may potentially have access to another option.
Macronix, the company behind the flash memory that’s in the Switch cartridges, will usher in its new 3D NAND technology in 2020. According to a report from the Taipei Times, Nintendo will apparently be the first customer. The Big N wanted to introduce a 64GB cartridge option all the way back in 2018, but a report from The Wall Street Journal indicated that these plans were pushed into 2019. That goal clearly wasn’t met. Thus, this new report suggests that the new storage vairant may finally be on its way as Macronix is introducing new technology.
Bigger size = bigger price?
While this is good news, there’s also some context that has to be added. While a 64GB card would certainly be beneficial for larger games like NBA 2K (which is notorious for its massive size on Switch), the new card will likely be very extensive. One reason why some physical Switch games have been slapped with a download requirement is because many studios have opted to use smaller cards due to them being cheaper to produce. This, in turn, leads to a bigger potential profits for the publisher and dev studio. So, Nintendo is probably going to have to tweak its pricing model for the larger cartridges in order to make them more attractive to game makers.
This problem is something that is unique to Switch, as PS4 and Xbox One both use Blu-Ray discs, which are far cheaper to produce. On top of that, they have much larger internal storage units, so downloading isn’t as big of a problem (though the space does fill up quick due to the aforementioned size of most games).
With a potential introduction of larger cartridges, it would also be nice to see Nintendo release Switch units with larger internal storage capacities for gamers that want an all-digital or mostly-digital library. Nearly three years in, and this still has not happened yet. Thankfully, the price of micro SD cards continues to drop steadily, so Switch users are not left out in the cold entirely.