Do Physical Nintendo Switch Games Take Up Storage?


The Nintendo Switch does not have too much memory, but do physical Nintendo Switch games take up storage? I decided to find out.

Physical Switch games will always take up storage space, for updates, save data files, downloadable content, and patches. How much will vary depending on the game. Physical games will always use less space than digital games, as they have a cartridge to store data on.

Buying physical games allow you to have a Nintendo Switch without buying additional Micro SD storage space.

I will explain how much space do digital switch games take up, and everything else related to maximizing your Switches storage. Let’s go.

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How Do You Make Your Switch Games Download Faster?

Why Do Physical Switch Games Take Up Storage?

Going Back to PHYSICAL Games|Nintendo Switch

You will always save space buying physical games instead of Digital but that doesn’t mean certain games don’t require a lot of storage on your switch. If the size of the game is too big or multiplayer is a big part of the game, this all needs to be installed separately.

See how the space for different games can differ.

  • Super Mario Odyssey uses 279MB of update data
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze uses 22MB
  •  Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild uses 929MB for update data and a massive 1.3 GB for DLC depending on how many expansions you buy.

You see the massively popular Breath Of The Wild uses a whopping 929 MB whilst Donkey Kong only uses 22MB more than 44 times less space than Zelda!

BOTW requires a gigantic 13.4GB of storage if downloaded on the Switch without a cartridge, a little under half the Switches storage space! So you can see how much memory you save going physical.

The question of physical vs digital games is an interesting one if you want to know which choice is right for you please check out my post here.

Developers Need To Issue Updates & Patches

Depending on the game, some developers rely on massive 1-day updates to function, the perfect example is DOOM for the switch. As it’s a massive game with challenging graphics for the Switch, the game files are very large so it doesn’t fit in the standard 32GB for a switch cartridge.

The single campaign fits on the cartridge, but if you want to play multiplayer you need to download the MASSIVE 21.3 GB file update separately!

You can see how relying on the Switches 32GB memory is a recipe for running out of space. I highly recommend the SanDisk Ultra 256 GB micro SD card that is enough space to keep you busy on your Switch with 100s of games, you can buy it for a fantastic price on Amazon here.

Games Need Storage Space For DLC

As DLC(downloadable content) is released after a game was released, the developers need a place to store all the new information, depending on the size of the content.

This can vary depending on what your downloading, BOTW(Zelda) needs 2.4 GB of storage space to download both DLCs and this will give you many more hours of happy gaming time making the install well worth it.

Certain DLC updates can be even more, as Nintendo games like Splatoon 2 and ARMS need a lot of data for online play, as this content was developed and added after the games were released, with free multiplayer DLC being included.

You can quickly see why having an SD card is pretty much essential for the Switch.

Developers Want To Cut Production Costs

Nintendo is excellent at cutting game files down, but other developers don’t put the same care and attention into Switch files, as this requires a lot of time and company manpower. Companies will try to cut down product costs, by storing more of the game’s data into your Switch than the game cartridge.

The perfect example is NBA 2K20 with an insane 32.9 GB install requirement for the switch! This is absolutely crazy and having a micro SD is a requirement for playing this game, as the Switches internal memory is only 32GB!

Nintendo game files will always be more compressed as Nintendo just puts so much attention and care, compared to how third-party developers treat their game installs, with 2K sports being the perfect example.

Why You Should Buy A Micro SD Card For Your Nintendo Switch

The problem with the Switch is its internal memory is only 32 GB with only 25GB being used to store games. Switch games can vary from a few hundred MB to 20GB+ meaning you will eventually need to buy a Micro SD card.

Micro SD Cards Are Very Cheap

Memory used to be expensive and huge, I remember seeing my friends 250 GB external hard drive and it was the size of a large brick! We don’t live in these times anymore, and you will find Micro SD cards for super cheap.

On Amazon, my personal recommendation the Sandisk Ultra 256 SD Card(amazon link) is roughly $40, less than the cost of a new game, and can fit roughly 275 different BOTW game files if stored on the cartridge.

With that much memory, it gives you the option to have a lot if not all your games digitally, which is not an option without using a Micro SD as downloadable games need an SD card as without one you simply lack the space.

That small $40 is worth it, as it gives you the confidence to buy as many games as you want, knowing full well you have space. I can tell you the hardships of choosing the specific game you need to delete to make space, without the SD card, it isn’t fun.

Some Games Need A Micro SD

If you’re a fan playing the NBA 2K series on the go with your Switch, you simply need to buy a Micro SD, as the game requires more memory than the Switches internal storage to download.

Why limit your gaming options, and rely on third-party companies to make their game playable without an SD card? Spending a measly $40 can stop these worries and allow you to buy any game you want? I think it’s a win-win.

How Much Space Do Digital Switch Games Take Up?

Digital Switch games will always take up more space than physical games, but the size depends on the size of the game. They can range from a small 40Mb to a massive 32.9 GB

Please check out this list by Nintendo’s life to see the different Switch game file sizes.

Now, you will always save memory space opting for physical cartridges instead of digital downloads as companies generally try to fit as much of their game on the cartridge as they can.

An example of a third company excelling in file compression is the Witcher 3 with all downloadable content, only being a small(in comparison) 28.1GB on the Switch!

Are Games Saved On The Switch Or The Cartridge?

The Switch saves all your game data on the internal storage of 32GB as well as other downloadable content or updates for the game. Inserting your game into another Switch, you cannot play your save data. But the save data can be saved into the cloud using Nintendo Online which you can access.

Reccomended Products

Sandisk Ultra 256 SD Card(Amazon Link)

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