There’s been a lot of hullabaloo recently over the revelation that L.A. Noire Switch will require a 14GB download for the physical version, and if you want to go digital only the download size is 29GB — too large to fit on the Nintendo Switch’s internal memory. The outrage hit its peak on the Nintendo Switch subreddit, where many users said they would no longer be picking up L.A. Noire for Switch.
The reaction to L.A. Noire‘s required download — and other third party Switch games that require the same — isn’t warranted, though; the industry standard for these huge AAA games is a required install, and it’s on Nintendo for releasing a console and using a medium with insufficient storage space.
If you own a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One then you know that the Blu-ray discs you buy are essentially just for installs and DRM checks. Popping in your disc for Overwatch installs the game on the system’s hard drive and you can only play it when the disc is in the system. This allows developers to make games that are much, much larger than the 25 or 50 gigs a Blu-ray disc would allow otherwise.
I’m constantly uninstalling and reinstalling games from the hard drive — the only game that I never uninstall is Overwatch because I play it frequently. Third party developers make their games with this framework in mind. It’s the standard for huge AAA games like L.A. Noire, Grand Theft Auto V, etc.
Nintendo released a console that does things differently, though. They had to switch to cartridges since the Switch is both a home console and a portable machine — and cartridges are more expensive to manufacture than Blu-ray discs are.
The standard Switch cart sizes are 8 gigs and 16 gigs, and there’s a 32 gig cartridge available but it’s more expensive than the other two. It’s simply not fair to the publisher to expect them to eat the additional cost just to get their game on Switch; if that were the case, then third party developers wouldn’t bring anything to the system. Similarly, it’s not fair for consumers to pay an even larger “Switch tax” for games on the bigger carts. In L.A. Noire‘s case, the game costs $49.99 USD on Switch — $10 more than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions — and that’s just with the 16 gig cart.
To avoid these extra costs, third parties are doing the only fair thing: put as much of the game on the cheaper 16 gig cart and require a download for the rest. SD cards are fairly cheap and can be used to store plenty of games, but the fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t even have to buy an SD card at all. Nintendo should have released the Switch with more internal storage.
32 gigs of internal storage is pathetic. It’s not like Nintendo exists in a vacuum; they know how big third-party games are. They know how important it is for the Switch’s success to have third-party support. That they didn’t release the console with sufficient storage space is a colossal misstep that has fans placing the blame on third-party developers and publishers rather than on Nintendo.
I love playing games on Switch and want more third-parties on the system, but let’s face it: the price for the Switch’s innovation is a $10 “Switch tax” for these big games, and the price for Nintendo’s negligence is to buy an SD card.