These days disc-based storage is on the way out in favor of digital distribution, but Nintendo will reportedly move back to the past with its upcoming console by bringing back cartridges. WSJ heard rumors that Nintendo's NX console will adopt chip-based cartridges as the format became a lot cheaper thanks to fierce competition in the flash memory market.
The paper writes the rationale is that cartridges are superior to discs in several ways. They offer faster performance, which results in quicker game load times, and do not damage as easily as discs. Furthermore, cartridges are harder to pirate and can reportedly be mass-produced faster than discs.
Industry watchers said cartridges were a reasonable choice for Nintendo’s next-generation system, code-named NX, because the company targets a wider range of consumers than Sony or Microsoft. Nintendo’s core fans include small children, who might scratch discs but find cartridges tougher to damage. Cartridges also allow games to load faster, are harder to copy and can be mass-produced faster than discs, they said.
They are “no doubt today’s best format to physically distribute games,” said Atsushi Osanai, a former Sony employee who is now a visiting fellow at Harvard University.