Third-Party Nintendo Switch Games Are So Damn Big

Just before the Nintendo Switch launched, we wrote about a game that required more space than the system's 24GB of usable onboard memory . In March it was an exception, but by the end of the year it's already becoming the norm for third-party releases on the platform.

Nintendo's own releases on the Switch keep things slim, with downloads for Super Mario Odyssey, Arms and Splatoon 2 ranging from 2-6GB. That's perfectly managable.

But many of the big third-party releases for the platform are coming in much bigger. LA Noire's digital version is 29GB, but even the physical release will require a 14GB download.

Doom's digital version is 25GB, while its retail release only includes the singleplayer campaign on the cartridge, with the multiplayer stuff requiring a 9GB download.

Even if you buy the physical edition of NBA 2K18, there's a 6.8GB download once you first start it up, an "additional software update" that's 16GB and then you'll also need 5GB of memory per save file.

And Resident Evil Revelations is even bigger: Revelations 1 is 13GB and Revelations 2 is 26GB if you get the digital version, and if you buy the cartridge, you only get the first game, with the second having to be downloaded.

Oh, and anyone buying WWE 2K18 on cartridge still has a 24GB download to look forward to.

The reasons for this are pretty clear: Nintendo's games have been coded from the ground up to run on this hardware, while all these third-party releases are ports from other platforms. Switch cartridges are only 16GB in capacity, so when there's overrun, it's got to be shifted to a download.

So if you own a Switch and want to play any of these games, you might want to have an SD card (or two) on your Christmas list if you want to actually play them.


    Fast 256GB SD cards can be had for $120 or so off ebay. Its pretty well much just part of the cost of owning a Switch sadly.

      $570 is pretty steep to play portable, that's for sure.

    Oh come on, Nintendo and/or publishers!

    If one buys the physical game, put the whole damn game on the cartridge.

    What is about those things that can't keep a whole game?

    Switch cartridges are only 16GB in capacity, so when there's overrun, it's got to be shifted to a download.

    And the reason why? SD cards can be easily 128 GB, surely Nintendo can make a custom cartridge that is at least a realistic 64 GB.

    Last edited 03/11/17 8:23 am

      The bigger the capacity, the more expensive they are to manufacture. Also Nintendo is the only one manufacturing the cartridges and they clearly don't need bigger sizes for their own games...

      The reason why? Nintendo. Thats all you really need to say really.

    The rumour is that the cost of a 32GB switch cartridge to publishers is in excess of USD$20 which is why no one uses them. To date one third party game does that is only available in Japan and costs USD$90 there.

      I wonder what the 16gb card costs, i can't imagine the 32 is double the price when all factors are considered.

      Also, switch games are historically more expensive (even digitally) than their counterparts on other consoles even with the smaller carts, so a 90USD game sounds like an outrageous gouge.

      Game pricing is officially hitting peak weirdness. One one hand publishers are charging RRP for digital copies of games to keep brick and mortar happy, then they turn around and stiff the physical copies over a few bucks of memory.

      Either make the physical version on bigger carts and push up the physical price to the eshop, or keep the physical release stupid and bring down the digital cost.

      This is just the worst.

        Yep the whole situation sucks. Hopefully it will stabilise at some point.

        I have heard that the reason large cards cost so much is because they "wear out" Every ROM chip has extra space in it for dead storage. Your ssd, your phone, your usb etc. The controller detects when a space go bad. Switches it off and turns on a backup.

        So larger cards are much larger. From memory I think that it's a 15% buffer?

        I could be wrong about this as well. It was a few years ago that I read about it.

          This is a significant issue with rewritable memory, yes, but not for things like cartridges.

          These don't even store save states on the cart, so they're less volatile than DS carts.

    Huh, here I thought that this was more due to the high quality textures and audio files that game developers are using more and more often these days. I think the first Titanfall game had 30gb of uncompressed audio. That's only a 3 year old game.

      This is Occam's Razor. Know idea why the author would leap straight to some kind of "optimisation" hand-wave.

    I have a fast 256gb microSD card in my SWITCH. 80% of my games a digital downloads, so having the memory card, for me, was just part of owning a SWITCH. However for other people who by physical, I can understand the frustration.

    14GB download for the physical release of Rockstar Games L.A Noire?! Oh come on Nintendo if you think I'm going to get an SD card for Christmas just to expand my systems memory just to play L.A Noire think again. I'm going to get a micro SD card instead to hopefully expand more of my memory space and I have four words to say Nintendo get a goddamn life and move on for god's sake.

    I'm fine with the Switch being the Vita done right and acting as a haven for indie and mid-level games (ie. Not AAA). Nintendo really needs to encourage third party developers to think smaller though and realise that the Switch is not a powerful console like the PS4 or XBox One. It's more like modern mobile devices which have more than their fair share of engaging experiences that don't require GBs of data to entertain you. (If you can dig far enough through the microtransaction shovelware)

    then you'll also need 5GB of memory per save file.

    Please tell me that is a typo and you meant 5MB.

      Nope, 5GB is apparently correct for that NBA game.

    When you have to download a 60 gig "update" (See: the whole game) when you first put games into XB1 etc, irks the crap out of me. Release day of a game.... oh wait you have to try download an update along with everyone else.... go for a walk outside for 4 hours (Y)

      Yeah, why don't they just include another disk like back in the Xbox 360 days?

      Forza 7's 32GB Day One Patch was pretty damn annoying, I almost cried when I saw it. My dodgy 3Mbps ADSL Connection was pretty stretched for a few days.

    you might want to have an SD card (or two) on your Christmas listHow viable an approach is this, swapping between multiple cards?

      Not particularly, since the system demands you restart it if you plug a new card in and if you pop a card out while it's running just gives you a prompt saying it has to shut down now, with no way to return to what you were doing first.

        Got it. SD card is accessible enough but you would have to reset the system every time you want to play something on a different card. Not a great way to do it, but plausible.


    Besides the point of how much storage is built in, and how much is available on a cartridge, why are these games so damn big in the first place?

    20 GB gets you a lot of code and assets. What the hell are they using it for?

      Uncompressed audio and textures. Uncompression in real time chews resources. Something the switch and other consoles don't have an excese of so the trade off is leave them uncompressed and take up more storage.

    Surely the obvious answer is texture qualities. Comparing something sparse and flat like Splatoon to a highly detailed game like Doom is clearly farcical.

      Texture, pre-rendered cutscene, and audio compression are a constant bugbear with these things.

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