I love the Switch, to the point where I can forgive many of its shortcomings. Of course it can’t be 4K. It often cannot bring a stable performance. It is overrun with terrible gates. Oh, and the online infrastructure could be much, much better.
All things worthy of criticism. But they have never been outright deal breakers for me. After all, if I let higher frame rates and resolutions dictate my buying habits, I’d be missing out on many of the best Nintendo Switch games out there. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and the recently released Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, just to name a few.
But there is one thing that seriously annoys me about the Nintendo Switch. Not only the base console, but also the Nintendo Switch OLED. And that’s the downright meager amount of storage space — something the company will have to address for its future hardware efforts.
The Switch may be a groundbreaking improvement over the Wii U, but it seems Nintendo wasn’t too interested in addressing one of that system’s many flaws. The simple, white version of the Wii U came with a measly 8 GB of storage. Only if you were willing to pay more for the Deluxe package would you get a glossy black console with 32GB of storage.
That’s actually where we stand with the base Switch model as well. The handheld hybrid launched in 2017 with only 32 GB of storage. And in 2021 we got the Nintendo Switch OLED, which doubled that number to 64GB. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s still well below what the competition has to offer.
On PS5, you get 1TB on both the physical and digital versions. It’s a similar story with Microsoft: 1 TB on Xbox Series X and 512 GB on Xbox Series S. These can be further boosted by internal SSDs on PS5 and accessories like the Seagate Storage Expansion Card on Xbox.
The latter approach also applies to Switch. You can buy additional microSD cards to give your console’s storage a much-needed boost. The difference is that purchasing a microSD card for Switch can be out of the question, especially if you download a lot of games. It’s easy to fill up that meager amount of storage space much faster than you’d like.
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So what can Nintendo do to address this issue in the future – and should it, given that it would likely increase the price of their consoles? I think the answer here is a resounding yes. Nintendo Switch games — especially first party titles and many of the third-party ports — have only gotten bigger in recent years.
Take Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which comes out at the end of July. At 15 GB, it is the largest mainline Xenoblade game to date. And on a basic switch with no microSD card installed, it will eat up just under half of the total available storage space. The equivalent on PS5 would be a game that takes up about 400 to 500 GB of space. Even non-storage-hungry games like Call of Duty: Warzone or Horizon Forbidden West can claim to achieve that.
Plus, Nintendo’s first party output will only get more ambitious over time. We already know that Monolith Soft is working on a massive new IP address. Likewise, future Zelda titles will likely even surpass Breath of the Wild 2 in terms of groundbreaking scope.
Nintendo definitely needs to bring its A-game when it comes to storage space on its future consoles. And I don’t just mean a modest increase to something like 128 GB. When even smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 can offer up to 256GB of storage, Nintendo has no excuse not to beef up its technology.
At the bare minimum, I’d love to see Nintendo’s next flagship console clock in at least 256GB of storage. But 512 GB or even 1 TB would be a real win. Hopefully, such an upgrade would come with other much-requested specs like 4K resolution and support for higher frame rates. Many of us are now treating the Switch like an Xbox or PlayStation on the go, and Nintendo should do the same.