The Nintendo Switch will be the first home console since the Nintendo 64 to use cartridges, but it won’t support physical media from the company’s current console and handheld platforms.
A Nintendo representative confirmed to Polygon today that the Nintendo Switch will not be compatible with Nintendo 3DS cartridges or Wii U discs. It does not appear from our limited glimpse of the hardware so far that either the Switch console or its dock includes a disc drive at all, although Nintendo has not commented on that.
When asked if the Nintendo Switch will support downloadable games — whether they’re Switch games or titles released on previous systems like the 3DS — the representative told Polygon that Nintendo isn’t discussing specifics on that front. For the time being, Nintendo fans can hold out hope that they’ll be able to play downloadable Wii U and 3DS games on the Switch.
The cartridges for the Switch, which are known as Game Cards, appear to be similar in size to 3DS cartridges. But Nintendo also declined to give details on how Switch titles will be distributed, and did not comment on whether the system uses SD cards for games.
Nintendo 3DS cartridges reportedly go up to 8 GB in capacity, but of course, 3DS games run at a much lower resolution than the high-definition screen of the Nintendo Switch. NBA 2K17, which was featured in the console’s reveal trailer, weighs in at well over 40 GB on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are both under 8 GB.
Flash memory is getting cheaper every year, though, so the Nintendo Switch could use Game Cards with 16 GB or perhaps even 32 GB of storage. At this point, we’ll just have to wait for the company to reveal technical specifications, which Nintendo says it will do sometime before launching the system in March 2017.