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Will NX return to cartridges (or do away with discs altogether)?

randomengine

Banned
Feb 22, 2012
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There is a rumor floating around that NX will use cartridges because of the increased demand for ROMs over and above what already exists in Nintendo's production pipeline in a world where 3DS exists.

http://www.screencritics.co.uk/2016/05/04/is-the-nintendo-nx-about-ditch-the-disc-drives-for-cartridges/

I recall there was a patent some time ago showing a discless, download-only system, but this seems like new information.

To lead discussion, I wanted to do a breakdown of pros and cons that have come up. ozfunghi provided one particularly thorough list, but I delved back through many of the posts and discussions to flesh out a list to provide as a starting point for people to reference.

Pros:

  • No disc drive – Cheaper console (no cost of drive, cheaper stocking/shipping, cheaper throughout supply chain); smaller size console; more reliable (no moving parts, less defects requiring repair); runs cooler (better ventilation from less cramped internals, passive cooling); quieter; energy savings
  • Smaller packaging for media – Cheaper (stocking, shipping, packaging); less shelf space
  • Speed – Faster loading times
  • Possibility to share game library between devices (e.g. handheld and home console) – Could lead to larger audience overall as well
  • Faster switching of games – Easier to leave cartridges exposed, out of box, compared to discs
  • No need for game installs
  • Less internal storage need – Also helps to lessen the cost of the hardware
  • Multiple cartridge slots possible – Possibility of multiple cartridges plugged in simultaneously (games, accessories) for speed and optional functions
  • Storage space – Cartridges have a wide range of storage options; can be much larger than current disc media
  • Potential to install patches/DLC directly into a cartridge – Could be useful in digital transition due to ability to install a game on your own cartridge for posterity, collection, etc.
  • Piracy – Potentially harder to pirate cartridge-based games
Cons:

  • Cost – More expensive than existing disc media (manufacturing more involved, more pieces to put together, costs scale based on amount of storage space needed); special ROM types could cost even more (though could potentially lower cost somewhat depending on arrangements and what was requested); console developer may have to eat cost to keep competitive pricing for third parties
  • Lack of DVD/BR playback
  • HDD still required – OS functions; storage place for downloading large game patches/DLC; possibility for allowing external drives, though extra cost to consumer
  • Third parties – Could be turned off (cost; “different” media conceptually and compared to competitors)
  • Physical media in general– Increasing prevalence of digital sales; capability of no interest to those favoring “all digital” approach (though neither would an optical drive either)
  • Speed – While most disc-based games are installed for speed, the cartridge selling point of speed must be fast enough to not need to install the game in the first place requiring special ROM types, especially with larger games
  • Piracy – Con for all physical media and only requires the right hardware to pirate

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1209406

Delete if old.
 

Nosgotham

Junior Member
Nov 8, 2014
4,349
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255
TX
how many times are we going to have this thread?
im actually all or cartridges ala 3ds

Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

they are only tht big because they have 50 gigs to work with so they know they dont have to compress shit.
 

Hoo-doo

Banned
Sep 29, 2011
27,245
39
670
Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.
 

TLZ

Member
Oct 20, 2015
10,544
15,160
930
Sydney
Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

This has been asked and answered a ton of times in previous threads already.

I swear it's like groundhog day in here.
 

Maxey

Member
Nov 14, 2015
2,643
2
360
Will the NX do my taxes?

I don't know. No one knows.

So many NX threads.
 

Krooner

Member
Sep 23, 2015
309
0
0
Proprietary cart's are not going to happen. They're trying to entice third parties, not push them away. There's still a bad taste in the mouths of third parties from the 90s.
 

Hoo-doo

Banned
Sep 29, 2011
27,245
39
670
This has been asked and answered a ton of times in previous threads already.

I swear it's like groundhog day in here.

So enlighten me, champ.

Or do you honestly expect this entire board to have read every single word of the rumor and speculation maelstrom that is the average NX thread?
 
Jul 15, 2009
11,803
2
755
New York City
Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/252290161678

Considering that you can buy a 32 GB MicroSD card for $3, I'm going to say that yes, it's definitely feasible.

Edit:
As I mention in this future post, it's true that SD cards are not game cartridges. However, the kind of ROMs used in cartridges are likely mask ROMs, which, from what I understand, are cheaper to manufacture than the flash memory used in SD cards. That's why I made the comparison, because a 32 GB ROM should be cheaper than a 32 GB SD card, the latter of which is $3.
 

Neoxon

Junior Member
Jul 28, 2013
52,548
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0
If they ditch discs, then I'd expect them to go with cartridges. Nintendo going digital-only for the NX Platform would end with Nintendo receiving Xbox One DRM-tier backlash.

That being said, the lack of any Panasonic talk about working with Nintendo, yet Macronix is hyping up their relationship with Nintendo as of late, is interesting.
 

Neoxon

Junior Member
Jul 28, 2013
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GAF-Internet-GAF

That translation was done by one of our own in the NX Info thread.
 

Neoxon

Junior Member
Jul 28, 2013
52,548
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Of course they won't do cartridges. That rumour has nothing behind it.
Macronix was the one hyping up their business partnership with Nintendo this fiscal year (a fellow GAFer did the translation). And Panasonic, Nintendo's usual disc provider, hasn't said shit about their relationship with Nintendo this year.

Unless, of course, if NX is a hybrid system where optical discs wouldn't be practical.
It's more likely that the NX would be a shared platform of systems rather than a singular hybrid device (which Iwata shot down multiple times before he died).
 

Sir TapTap

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Jun 17, 2014
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People need to chill on the "return of the carts" crap. Even if they do 3DS style carts it's nothing like NES-N64 era carts with zero load times. Those are NOT the same thing as flash media and were very expensive. That sort of cart is deader than dead. I see no real advantage to modern carts over disks whatsoever unless it's really a "portable and console take the same games" situation since carts can be physically smaller (but the size difference is irrelevant in a home console)
 
Aug 19, 2006
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I think either cards or full digital (with some kind of phyiscal install option via usb stick or the like). Discs just complicate future hw possibilities, unless they move to a digital licence system ala original xbone.
I recall there was a patent some time ago showing a discless, download-only system, but this seems like new information

There was, it sounded to me like it crossed over with their SCD patent as it involved sending data to other storage devices at different transfer rates. Maybe a home bound mass storage hub for a portable system with a torrent style data network, or something like that.
 

Amalthea

Banned
Mar 6, 2009
7,941
0
0
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I could imagine that the NX goes mainly digital with flash carts for download kiosks in stores a la the Super Famicom in the 90s for people that still don't have internet (yeah, I know).
 

Hoo-doo

Banned
Sep 29, 2011
27,245
39
670
http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/252290161678

Considering that you can buy a 32 GB MicroSD card for $3, I'm going to say that yes, it's definitely feasible.

We're not really talking about consumer level SD cards here.

And what does it cost to have a blu-ray disc pressed? How does it compare? These are economies of scale where even a price increase of a few cents can mean millions of dollars of cost increases overall.
 

Dead_Pixel

Banned
Jul 7, 2013
669
0
0
England
Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

It was speculated that the savings made by logistics (carts are much smaller and lighter than discs) would actually save Nintendo money if they opted to use high-capacity cartridges. There was a great post here from someone who works in logistics, and I'd link to it now, but I suspect someone will beat me to it ;)
 

z0m3le

Banned
Jun 16, 2011
3,883
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Seattle, WA
www.notenoughshaders.com
People need to chill on the "return of the carts" crap. Even if they do 3DS style carts it's nothing like NES-N64 era carts with zero load times. Those are NOT the same thing as flash media and were very expensive. That sort of cart is deader than dead. I see no real advantage to modern carts over disks whatsoever unless it's really a "portable and console take the same games" situation since carts can be physically smaller (but the size difference is irrelevant in a home console)

Much much faster read speeds, seek times, higher capacities, future proof, much cheaper hardware required for the device, smaller form factor, lower power draw, better airflow and cooling, less moving parts. There are many advantages, as well as the problem with discs not really having a future.

We're not really talking about consumer level SD cards here.

And what does it cost to have a blu-ray disc pressed? How does it compare? These are economies of scale where even a price increase of a few cents can mean millions of dollars of cost increases overall.

Because ROM is read only memory, it should actually be cheaper than SD cards. You also don't have to pay for shelving in retail stores for both a handheld and console's game medias, since they could use the same one.
 

Luigiv

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Jun 8, 2009
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People need to chill on the "return of the carts" crap. Even if they do 3DS style carts it's nothing like NES-N64 era carts with zero load times. Those are NOT the same thing as flash media and were very expensive. That sort of cart is deader than dead. I see no real advantage to modern carts over disks whatsoever unless it's really a "portable and console take the same games" situation since carts can be physically smaller (but the size difference is irrelevant in a home console)

The big advantage would be that, even if they can't be used like read only ram like old cartridges, they could still potentially be much faster than Blurays meaning that not every game needs a mandatory install, wasting HDD space.
 

tr1p1ex

Member
Feb 18, 2014
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Carts are probably too expensive.

but one can imagine being able to use the same cart in both the console and handheld.
 
Jun 21, 2013
7,068
1
435
Virginia, United States
Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

Actually only a very small portion of games are that big, usually certain AAA releases at that.

And then you have stuff like QB's 75GB download :/...

Anyway...I'm down with carts.

People need to chill on the "return of the carts" crap. Even if they do 3DS style carts it's nothing like NES-N64 era carts with zero load times. Those are NOT the same thing as flash media and were very expensive. That sort of cart is deader than dead. I see no real advantage to modern carts over disks whatsoever unless it's really a "portable and console take the same games" situation since carts can be physically smaller (but the size difference is irrelevant in a home console)
I don't see why they can't do a mixed memory setup with flash ROM and NAND. Altho since I'm not an engineer, I have no real understanding of how this would work on the low-level (or if it's possible or worth doing).
 

M3d10n

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Aug 28, 2006
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People need to chill on the "return of the carts" crap. Even if they do 3DS style carts it's nothing like NES-N64 era carts with zero load times. Those are NOT the same thing as flash media and were very expensive. That sort of cart is deader than dead. I see no real advantage to modern carts over disks whatsoever unless it's really a "portable and console take the same games" situation since carts can be physically smaller (but the size difference is irrelevant in a home console)

Yep. "Zero load times" cartridges died with the GBA. The DS and 3DS use devices that need data to be fetched and copied to RAM over a BUS that has a limited transfer speed, which ia only bearable due to their low amount of RAM.

Using cheap flash would actually be quite slower than optical media and would too require installs like the PS4 and Xbox One. The extra cost, however small, would also eat into the publishers' revenue, making the 3rd party situation even worse.
 

ViewtifulJC

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Oct 14, 2010
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www.neogaf.com
 

Taker666

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Apr 26, 2005
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It would make sense from a first party perspective (most first party Wii U games were under 8GB)...but it could put off third parties (unless Nintendo are willing to eat the costs).

..of course, one has to wonder if third parties would support it regardless..so maybe Nintendo would be wiser to do what is right for themselves.

There benefits of using 3DS style cards are massive in regards to the hardware itself.
 
Jun 21, 2013
7,068
1
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Virginia, United States
Yep. "Zero load times" cartridges died with the GBA. The DS and 3DS use devices that need data to be fetched and copied to RAM over a BUS that has a limited transfer speed, which ia only bearable due to their low amount of RAM.

Using cheap flash would actually be quite slower than optical media and would too require installs like the PS4 and Xbox One. The extra cost, however small, would also eat into the publishers' revenue, making the 3rd party situation even worse.
What if the bus had a larger transfer speed, and how would having more RAM actually hurt the process?
 

M3d10n

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Aug 28, 2006
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What if the bus had a larger transfer speed, and how would having more RAM actually hurt the process?
More RAM = more data to be transferred, longer load times

Faster BUS = more expensive card

The only way this would be remotely viable would be if Nintendo somehow got cartridges that are 10x larger and 25x faster than 3DS cards for the same price.
 

Skittzo0413

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Jan 8, 2016
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Eradicate posted a great thread with pros/cons and a link to Terrell's excellent writeup on the logistics savings of carts- Link

I think it's definitely a good discussion to have.
#TeamCarts
 

Effect

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Jun 15, 2007
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A return to carts, especially with new tech isn't and shouldn't be a problem. We're not talking standard SD cards here people. The lack of moving parts is a positive. The overall benefits of them outnumber any negatives that might exist compared to discs.
 
Jun 5, 2013
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Eradicate posted a great thread with pros/cons and a link to Terrell's excellent writeup on the logistics savings of carts- Link

I think it's definitely a good discussion to have.
#TeamCarts

As i said in that thread, there's only one thing that matters. Cost. If there is a cheaper alternative and there is, the cheaper way will be used.
 

Bluth54

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Feb 5, 2008
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We're not really talking about consumer level SD cards here.

And what does it cost to have a blu-ray disc pressed? How does it compare? These are economies of scale where even a price increase of a few cents can mean millions of dollars of cost increases overall.
Yep the scale of economics is the big thing. Even if Nintendo can get flash carts for super cheap they are still going to be way more expensive then blu ray disks. When you're making millions of copies of a game a few cents for a Blu Ray disk vs a dollar or two for a flash card adds up fast.
 

Skittzo0413

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Jan 8, 2016
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As i said in that thread, there's only one thing that matters. Cost. If there is a cheaper alternative and there is, the cheaper way will be used.

But cost is exactly the issue we should discuss. Not just the cost of the cartridges themselves, but the cost savings of shipping a console without an optical drive, and shipping games in smaller boxes, cutting out licensing of whatever blu-ray knockoffs they've been using, cutting out extra power supply necessary for the optical drive, cutting out the need for storage space for mandatory installs, etc.

I would love if someone that has actual knowledge about console design and vendor costs could come up with a reasonable breakdown of the pros and cons of switching to carts, purely from a $$$ perspective.
 

Novocaine

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May 5, 2013
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Is it economically feasible to distribute games on cartridges?

Games these days are huge. I don't think 32GB would cut it, games these days are already regularly pushing over 40 gigs.

Nintendo games don't really reach those kinds of sizes so they would be okay.
 

beril

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Aug 25, 2010
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More RAM = more data to be transferred, longer load times

Faster BUS = more expensive card

The only way this would be remotely viable would be if Nintendo somehow got cartridges that are 10x larger and 25x faster than 3DS cards for the same price.

Normal SD cards are already way faster than the PS4 optical drive, with premium cards having read speed above mechanical HDDs

I'm not sure what the read speed for 3DS carts are, but Macronix is shrinking down their Xtra-ROM from 75nm on 3DS carts to a 32nm node, so that should solve the storage part
 

randomengine

Banned
Feb 22, 2012
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But cost is exactly the issue we should discuss. Not just the cost of the cartridges themselves, but the cost savings of shipping a console without an optical drive, and shipping games in smaller boxes, cutting out licensing of whatever blu-ray knockoffs they've been using, cutting out extra power supply necessary for the optical drive, cutting out the need for storage space for mandatory installs, etc.

I would love if someone that has actual knowledge about console design and vendor costs could come up with a reasonable breakdown of the pros and cons of switching to carts, purely from a $$$ perspective.

Well, what you are focused on is the price of the console. Cartridges can reduce the price of the console, but the games themselves if on cartridges would most likely be more expensive to manufacture, unless Nintendo somehow was able to eat the extra costs for third-parties (If I were Nintendo, I would do it).
 

Skittzo0413

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Jan 8, 2016
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Also we should remember that SNES and N64 cartridges were >$10 to manufacture, and those consoles had much more third party support than Wii U.

Obviously there was different competition back in that day but it's still worth considering before completely writing off the idea and assuming third parties would never get behind a ~$3 to manufacture cartridge.

Well, what you are focused on is the price of the console. Cartridges can reduce the price of the console, but the games themselves if on cartridges would most likely be more expensive to manufacture, unless Nintendo somehow was able to eat the extra costs for third-parties (If I were Nintendo, I would do it).

Yes, definitely. It's all a balancing act, and it depends on Nintendo's priorities and where they are most confident. If they believe the savings in the console BoM affords them some advantage, and they are confident that third parties will support them (at least in a token way) then that's all the reason they need to go cartridge.
 

Zombie James

Banned
Dec 28, 2005
46,217
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That would be incredibly stupid. Discs still cost pennies to press and I don't think there's much of a market for MSRP's above $60 US for regular games. Everything gets installed to a hard drive anyways.