Physical copies of Overwatch on Switch don’t include a cartridge

Blizzard Entertainment
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If you’re planning on picking up Overwatch for Nintendo Switch this week — it’s out on Tuesday, Oct. 15, by the way — you might just want to grab your copy from the Nintendo eShop instead of trekking out to a brick-and-mortar retailer. The physical version of Overwatch for Switch doesn’t contain a physical cartridge, just a download code.

In some ways, that makes sense. Overwatch is an online-only multiplayer game. And the game has been updated consistently over the past three years; the PlayStation 4 install is pushing 30 GB at this point, for example. A physical cartridge would be little more than a digital key to the game, which regularly receives new content.

But it makes less sense to ship a plastic case to stores with a digital code printed on a piece of paper, despite Overwatch being a marquee Switch release that probably should have a physical presence in stores.

So if you were thinking about buying Overwatch physically for the purpose of having a game card that you could use on multiple Switch consoles, consider this a public service announcement. It says so right there on the box (“Game card not included!”) but plan your purchase accordingly.

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The precedence has already been set for this kind of thing with Fortnite & Apex Legends. The former already has a Switch offering. There really isn’t much difference here.

Skyrim on PC when it came out.

It’s great because it wastes all the plastic of a physical game and all the impact of a digital game.

It uses less metal, but I’m annoyed because it means those with terrible internet in Australia (not everyone here has good internet) will suffer a 30GB download if they want to play…

And because it’s a product key most places won’t accept a refund for change-of-mind since they have no way to confirm if you’ve used the code or not.

Australia voted for shit copper internet 3 times in a row. Shit copper internet is what they deserve.

I get that the download time will be irritating, but if your Internet is that shit, can you play an online-only multiplayer title?

Also not included: respect for democracy and human rights.

If Overwatch was real, liberation of the Uyghur Muslim prison camps in China would be one of the things at the top of their "to do" list.

Look I can understand if they don’t want to put the game on a cartridge, but at that point, why even have a physical release? No manual, no cartridge, and all you get is a code to get you on the online store anyway. Strange.

Need something to put under the tree or in the stocking, not that strange at all really.

Could very well be a cardboard card with a code on it. There’s alternatives to this waste of stuff.

The only benefit I see from it is it would look nice on my game shelf with my other Switch game cases, but outside that completely pointless.

stores are still a major channel, especially for holiday shopping.

They could still just make it like a gift card if all you’re buying is a code.

I had the same thought and want to agree with you but a store isn’t going to put a gift card amongst boxed games. There was a clear motive here to shirk the idea of it being just a digital download and therefore likely to be missed by a person who isn’t savvy purchasing games.

Actually the Walmart stores where I live do place the game download/gift cards right next to the physical game display cases. They are literally a foot away.

I think Target does a similar thing. That’s not totally my point though. I would imagine when people see those cards they’re not thinking that’s a game. They’re thinking that’s a gift card to buy something in-game or on an online store.

There must be at least one guy in one marketing department that actually has ideas on how to sell stuff, beyond the usual two tricks and a half.

Maybe, until then though they’re taking the easy route.

Sure there is. It’ll just take 10 years for him to get enough power to change the system and by then a kid will have even better ideas, waiting another 10 years for his turn at the table.

They’re thinking that’s a gift card to buy something in-game or on an online store.

I mean, that actually is what this item is. It’s a gift card that only works for one specific game.

That’s true. I should have clarified I meant currency rather than a download code.

There’s already fortnite giftcards for hats, so I don’t see the difference in buying a game like that.

For now, it still makes more sense to ship it in a plastic case than a gift card. A consumer isn’t expecting a game to be in "gift card" format and thus may not be aware it exists only in digital form at all. The case says to the customer: "I’m a game ready to be played, buy me".

Until digital-only release is the norm, rather than the exception, the small amount of plastic wasted isn’t really going to amount to much. There’s still savings in the fact that a game cartridge isn’t being produced.

The case says to the customer: "I’m a game ready to be played, buy me".

But the game isn’t ready to be played since you have to download it.

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