Digital vs Hard Copy Video Games

Over the last couple of months I have joined a few Facebook groups catered to specific video games and the Nintendo Switch console. No matter what group I am in, the debate over Digital Games vs. Hard Copy games always seems to come up! I thought I would share my thoughts about it here. Which is your preferred game method?

Digital & Hard Copy: What’s the difference?

For starters, lets discuss what these game types are. Keep in mind, this discussion is based on my ownership of a Nintendo Switch console only, but other consoles offer both variety of games as well. Digital games are those that can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. As long as you have access to your Nintendo account, you’ll always have these games with you to play! It’s pretty simple to pay for these like any other online purchase via PayPal or credit card. You can also gain access by purchasing digital game download cards at major retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc.). These work a lot like gift cards and they are redeemed through the eShop.

Hard copy games are physical game cartridges that are inserted directly into your Switch console. Much like a CD (or cassette tape, if you’re old enough to know what that is…) these have content on them that can be played by your device. Hard copy games are often found housed in a sturdy plastic case with a cover depicting game artwork. Some copies even come with a small booklet for more details on the game, characters and any special content. You can purchase hard copies brand new from major retailers or second-hand, too! (And sometimes, for a bargain) 🙂

Pros & Cons: Which would you choose?

Out of these two game formats, which do I prefer? Well, you’ll have to read until the very end to find out! (Or you can just scroll to the bottom, I guess?)

Pros of Digital Games

  • Easy access to hundreds of games
  • Easy to “store” and travel with anywhere
  • Often on sale when hard copies are not
  • Forever ownership without worry of loss/damage

Cons of Digital Games

  • Large capacity memory card needed for storage
  • Non-transferrable to other Nintendo accounts, Switch consoles or friends
  • Internet is required for consistent access and most gameplay sessions

Pros of Hard Copy Games

  • Collectible artwork & booklets
  • Second-hand shopping market
  • Internet not required for (most) gameplay
  • Can be sold/traded for cash or more games (no value loss)
  • Easy to share with friends or use on multiple Switch consoles

Cons of Hard Copy Games

  • Risk of loss, damage, or theft
  • Not easily portable for multiple games
  • Storage space needed for larger collections

With all that being said, I honestly prefer hard copy video games to digital ones. There’s just something about having the physical cartridge, case and artwork that I enjoy. I feel the same way about music and book collections. I’ve always enjoyed collecting CDs with their album art and booklets, as well as visiting the library and physically reading through/flipping the book pages. 🙂 Call me old-school I suppose. Which do you prefer?

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