Report: The Nintendo NX Will Use Cartridges

The glory days of Nintendo consoles will forever be tied to endlessly blowing in plastic game cartridges. With its upcoming convertible system, Nintendo will try to recapture that magic, a source told The Wall Street Journal. Image: Dmitri Malyshev /

Nintendo is no stranger to mining nostalgia. But a move to flash-based carts makes an awful lot of sense. Video games are one of few things still distributed on the ageing CD format, which is prone to scratches. Flash memory would be more durable, enable faster loading and be harder for pirates to copy, according to WSJ.

Because the NX is rumoured to be portable, size will be a huge factor in its success or failure. Cartridges might solve the problem of needing to stuff a bulky hard drive inside the NX — and carrying them around will already be familiar to owners of the 3DS.

We reached out to Nintendo for further details but had not heard back at time of writing.

This story originally appeared in Gizmodo


    They certainly cost a bit more than discs but discs are a few cents each. Even up to a dollar wouldn't hurt too much. There'd be savings up and down the logistics and manufacturing chain, not needing a disc drive.
    I guess they also have a lot of things lined up having been using cartridges in their portable line also. Can't wait to see what they end up announcing, hopefully soon.

    Why would they ever use carts for a console that is meant to be a home console? How are you going to fit your games on a cart? Sure, there are upsides to carts but there's also a lot of downsides. Also, carts are much easier to pirate than discs.

      what you mean, 'how are they meant to fit games on a cart?'
      with micros sd cards around 512 GB and the biggest commercial blu rays are only 25GB, not to mention the read write speeds are way quicker on a cart, how would you NOT put games on carts sooner other than manufacturing costs. plus, i dont believe carts are easier to pirate, you have a fair few hardware obstacles to overcome compared to disc based media.

        Keep in mind that while high capacity SD cards exist, they aren't cheap. JB Hi-Fi sell 128GB cards for $150-200, and that's for a blank card. Looking at something closer to Blu-ray capacity, 32GB cards are around $30.

        Now Nintendo obviously wouldn't be paying retail prices for the cards, but it does give you some idea of what high density flash memory costs, and it is a lot more than the price of pressing an optical disc. And unless they can convince their customers that they should pay extra for the storage, it's going to come out of their profits.

          yeah i sort of went to the extreme ends for why it would be good to go with flash, because they gaming data they could store would be 10 fold, or 20 fold.

          but yes, you can get 32gb mico sd for around $10 online, so i imagine the whole price for massive quantities for nintendo would be considerably less.
          BUT, my main point still holds, that the extra benefits you gain by going to flash media, outweighs the extra costs.

            I paid $15 for a 32gb Sandisc Micro SDHC Card in a store today, not a special offer or a sale, just the normal price. Admittedly it was MSY.

          I'd say majority of Nintendo games would be fine using 16GB as that's more than the size of two double layer DVDs and can easily read at 40-50MB/s. Cost of 16GB sdcards is pretty much negligible in bulk.

      .....You realise flash memory has much, MUCH more space than optical media right? Have you never used a USB or SD card before?

      The main issue for them will be the manufacturing costs.

      The premise of your post is that the NX is purely a home-bound console, and that's widely rumoured to not be the case. Carts make a lot of sense if you're able to use the console on the bus as well.

      How are carts easier to pirate than discs? You need very specific hardware in order to make a copy of a cart. All you need to make a copy of a disc is a burner.

      Also, for the record, 3DS cartridges can hold up to 8GB, and they were released in 2011. PS4 and Xbone games are released on Blu-Rays that only hold up to 25GB (for single layer discs, which most of them's very rare to find a game using dual-layer 50GB although they do exist). They have had 5+ years to continue developing that cartridge technology and as @skinja mentions, you can get microSD cards now that hit 512GB of space.

      Cartridges are also faster, are smaller/take less physical space, and are easier to change than discs are.

      It would be very interesting to see carts coming back to home consoles after they have been definitely on the nose since the Playstation/Saturn era apart from portables (half the reason companies like Squaresoft dropped the Nintendo 64 was their decision to use the cartridge format). But with modern technology, there's really no reason to not bring them back - aside from the manufacturing cost, modern cartridges are probably superior to disc-based formats in every way.

      Last edited 05/09/16 9:46 am

        think of the amazing special edition carts you could make. 3d printed, themed, character shaped casings for game circuitry, depending of course where and how they decide to interface them with the console.

        But with modern technology, there's really no reason to not bring them back - aside from the manufacturing cost, modern cartridges are probably superior to disc-based formats in every way. you only have to look at the sd cards they were giving away with the note 7.
        Water proof
        Magnet proof
        Temperature proof
        Xray proof
        not too mention that flash media (not sd cards though) can get upwards of 500MB/s read write speads vs a blu ray spinning at 10,000 RPM (which is the maximum i think, but no where near what they use for consoles)
        i found this at
        Technically, the PlayStation 4 Blu-ray speed is rated at 6x, for maximum read speed of 27 MBs per second. That’s a big step up from the PS3, which only had a 2x speed that maxed out at 9 MB/s.

        exciting times ahead, that's for sure.

    This is hardly news, it's one of the details we know about the NX and we've known it for awhile. We also can be fairly confident it will be region free. If the PS5 swapped from discs to special SD cards for games that would be big news.

      Just wait until the NX has been out for a while and a success and all of a sudden, Sony will come with the "innovative" idea of using cartridges. You'll know they are not ripping off the idea because they will be black and have some sort of LED lightining or similar.

    I'll never understand this 'it's to appeal to your nostalgia' mentality that games writers love to attribute decisions like this to.

    It's not going to be region-free either.

    At least, it'll be region-locked like Itunes or PSN whereby each 'online store' has to know by law where you are and what currency you are using, but that'll be enough for gamers to thumb their noses at the thing anyway.

      Region Free only counts for physical media these days.

    I'd buy that for a dollar!

    ...and be harder for pirates to copyWe'll just put this blanket over R4 and the whole ROM scene here so we don't have to acknowledge how easy it is to get a dump of a cartridge's memory.

    "Cartridges" (These are not sisterboards, but flash memory), make a lot of sense in today's age of expandable memory via SD cards. Honestly I'd just like something that has a large internal drive and the option for USB and SD card external storage options.

    Costs will be higher, but conversely, many games won't need large carts, saving costs at that point. Shrug, I think the big problem is the NX might again alienate 3rd party devs.

    Is anyone else getting the impression that this will be a successor to the 3DS, with an ability to stream to TV, and Nintendo are quietly easing out of the home console business?

      i have read that this might be the case. consolidating and bringing together the home and portable console users. saving on two lots of manufacturing costs and getting double the user base (theoretically). a handheld with a dock, and power pack maybe for tv usage, but then just pick it up and off you go for using on the run,

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the obvious: if indeed they're making a portable system, would you rather one that has to use a chunk of its battery life to continuously power a motor with enough torque to near-instantly seek all over the disc and a laser to read it, or one that just doesn't?

      Nah, I'd rather something I can shake violently and have it damage the game inside.

    Solid state games sound good... but what about downloadable games?
    will these SSG have the ability to add content like a patch/DLC/expansion?

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