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Are Nintendo Switch Games Cheaper To Download? (When Are They?)

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Do you own a Nintendo Switch and wondered how you can get games cheaper? Maybe you purchased a game in the store and wondered if it would have been better to just download it. Well in this article we will answer all of the questions that you might have.

Are Nintendo Switch games cheaper to download?

Although there are some online sales and discounts in the EShop for Nintendo games sometimes, generally the prices for games are the same price to download or to purchase. 

Although you would assume that purchasing digital copies of a game would be cheaper, Nintendo did not want to make that a problem as that would hurt sales in stores of their new releases. Instead, Nintendo wanted to keep their game cartridges in the stores and sell them online for the same price. They did this for a few different reasons. 

  1. They would make more money as downloads don’t cost anything to produce. 
  2. It maintains its presence in all of the retail stores.
  3. It left the option to the user if they want a physical cartridge or a digital download. 

If you are getting ready to hate on the EStore and Nintendo though, I would hold off for now. While the majority of their games are the same price they also have many free games that are available to download.

These games are not just free to download, but also free to use and play with no purchase required. Most free games also won’t require you to have a Nintendo Switch Online membership subscription either.

Nintendo will also run sales for digital copy of a game on the Eshop quite regularly so you can certainly find deals by downloading games there. However, they normally aren’t the top tier games like Mario Kart, Super Mario Odyssey. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, etc.

They will normally be older games or cheaper third party games that you can get Nintendo Switch game deals on.

If you would prefer to watch a video about whether downloading Switch games is cheaper instead of reading this article you can do that below.

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Is It Better To Download Or Buy Physical Switch Games?

No matter what you prefer, both have pros and cons. 

Advantages of digital Switch games

The first and biggest advantage of downloading digital games is the fact that you don’t need any physical space. You don’t need a shelf to hold your cartridges, and you never have to worry about them being stolen or lost.

The second advantage is that you will always have all of your games, no matter where you go. This is especially useful for mobile gaming on the Switch. Whether you download games directly to the console or a micro SD card, you don’t have to worry about carrying a case filled with cartridges anymore. 

The third advantage is that you can download the games and play them anytime when you want. There’s no waiting in line and no waiting for a delivery. You can also get many digital games for free so that is a huge bonus as well.

The fourth advantage for digital Switch games is you won’t have to constantly be replacing the games in the slots of your holder and Switch. With digital games you can easily switch between all of the games on your console without needing to get off the couch to change cartridges.

There is one issue with the digital downloads though. That is that you will need a high-quality micro SD card because the Nintendo Switch only has 32GB of internal storage. In this limited space you can only download a few games before you run out of space.

Advantages of physical Switch games

It doesn’t matter if your digital games are always with you, because you can’t share them with your friends. The best thing about physical games is that you can share them with your friends and also you can play from your friend’s collection.

Another thing is you don’t need to worry about hard drive space. No matter how high of a capacity micro SD you have, it is still limited.

If you have the physical cartridges though, space is never an issue for your device. Prices for digital downloads also rarely decrease, but used Switch games are normally only a couple of dollars. 

Another benefit of physical cartridges is that you don’t have to have an internet connection to download the games. Since you just have the cartridges you only need access to the internet if you want to play the games online.

If you are happy with limited space and don’t like physical items, then you can go for digital games; otherwise, I suggest you buy physical ones.  If you do decide to buy physical ones, this is the perfect case for all of your cartridges! 

Is It Possible To Copy Switch Cartridge Games To An SD card?

Although many people have tried to copy their cartridges to an SD card, it simply doesn’t work when you try to play it back. Nintendo was very smart in making it impossible to do this.

Because if gamers could do this, then only one game would need to be purchased and it could be handed out to everyone else for free. 

Because the Nintendo Switch offers digital games you can now download and play your favorite games without the hassle of cartridges.  By Nintendo doing this, they made the Nintendo Switch more portable as you no longer have to carry games with you wherever you take your console. 

Can I Add Any Micro SD card To My Nintendo Switch?

Although some people might put just any SD card in their system, this can actually slow the system down. It is important that you have a fast micro SD card for your Switch.

Slow micro SD cards will cause performance problems when loading games that have large amounts of content on them. 

The Nintendo Switch console accepts up to a 2TB micro SD card but on the market, there are currently only available up to 1TB SD cards. There are a lot of SD cards available on the market but you should only buy one that has fast processing speeds. 

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Can You Use An e-Shop Card To Download Switch Games?

Nintendo has made it very easy to use its EShop. You can pay with regular credit cards, but since most gamers are kids and teens, they also made gift cards able to purchase games as well.

Once you own an EShop card, you will have immediate access to Nintendo eShop and you can buy over 1000 games from Nintendo on your Nintendo Switch, Wii U, or Nintendo 3DS.

Are Downloaded Switch Games Region Free? 

Yes, all the digital games offered by Nintendo are region-free. This excites gamers as a lot of them like to play games from different regions of the world to experience a different culture. 

Are Switch Accessories Region-Free? 

Although it is believed that all the Nintendo accessories are region-free and will work in any country, Nintendo suggests buying your accessories from your own region.

Because of variations in global voltage requirements the accessories may not work properly, or short out.

This is why Nintendo recommends only using accessories designed for use in the same country where you bought your Switch.

Is 128GB Enough Storage For You? 

The Nintendo Switch has an internal 32GB of storage and you can add additional storage if you choose. 128GB is normally enough storage if you delete a game once you have finished playing it.

If you keep the games and want to store hundreds of games, then 128 GB will probably not be big enough for you. 

Can I Play Switch Games Without The Cartridge? 

If you own a Nintendo Switch then it will come as no surprise that you can download games and play them without using a cartridge.

The Switch has 32GB of internal memory and even though some of it is used to run the system, you still will have plenty of room to download games if you want. 


Even though there are many reasons people want to download games, there are also many reasons to purchase the physical cartridges individually.

So if you have a Switch you should decide what is important to you, and then choose if you will download the games or purchase physical copies of them.

No matter what you choose, as long as you love it, don’t let anyone tell you it’s a bad idea.