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Another third-party Switch game causes uproar (update)

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The cart version of Lego City Undercover needs a big install

lego city undercover hero Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Lego City Undercover is the next major third-party port heading to Nintendo Switch, but early copies are already turning some console owners off of the game. It turns out that even physical versions of the Switch remaster require a hefty, internet-enabled data download.

Although Lego City Undercover isn’t due at retail until April 4, some stores already have it in stock. One retail-working Reddit user whose store now has copies noticed that the game case indicates that an internet connection is required, even to play the cartridge.

“Up to 13 GB storage required for game download” is the reason why, as the packaging notes. That’s a sizable portion of the Nintendo Switch’s hard drive space, which is capped at 32 GB.

While PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games require installs even when playing games on disc, that a Switch title arrives with a similar download has many Nintendo fans baffled.

“Are they out of their minds?” wrote an especially infuriated commenter. “So people buying physical to save on downloads and memory are still getting screwed? I hope this doesn't become a thing where publishers cheap out on the physical card size and force consumers to basically download the entire game.”

There’s been speculation about Nintendo Switch cartridge sizes, particularly their capacity. While games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild load up from the game card with ease, outlets like Eurogamer questioned whether publishers could opt into using smaller-sized cartridges for their games. That’s tied up in production costs and other variables that may lead to certain third-party games hitting the Switch at higher prices.

Rime and Minecraft: Story Mode caused stirs earlier this month when retailers listed them at higher prices than their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One counterparts. TequilaWorks, Rime’s publisher, told concerned Switch owners that the game was more expensive on Switch due to the increased cost of manufacturing on that console.

Lego City Undercover won’t cost more on Switch than it does on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, at least, but the required install may diminish some of the benefit of buying it physically on the new Nintendo system. First released on Wii U back in 2013, the game is now part of that console’s budget-priced Selects program for $19.99. By comparison, the remaster — which has a co-op mode and other exclusive features — will go for $59.99 at launch.

More disappointing to many is that this is yet another third-party game that seems to arrive on Switch with a big caveat. Lego City Undercover — and Rime, and Minecraft: Story Mode — offers the same content as what’s on other platforms, but the pain point of installing the game, or paying more to play on the Nintendo console, has left Switch owners frustrated with its currently slim third-party catalogue.

Update: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has issued a statement, clarifying that playing Lego City Undercover’s physical version will not require an online connection or download.