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July 2019 Retro Gaming Article


July 28, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Some Switch games may be unplayable in the distant future, but Switch Legacy categorizes game dependencies

Switch Legacy tells which games are server-dependent
When Nintendo moves on to a new platform, beyond the Switch, some Switch games may cease being playable!
Switch Legacy is a site dedicated to the future legacy of Switch games, via a database of ratings to let you know which dependencies your games may have. Some games for 6th and 7th generation game consoles are no longer playable because the servers that support these games have been shut down. You don't have to travel too far back in time to find games orphaned by the servers that once enabled them.

Such shutdowns are executed by the companies paying to keep the games running. It could be the developer or publisher. Shutdowns are attributed to gamer's lack of interest in the title or perhaps an effort to push gamers to buy the next game in the series.

Switch Legacy chart I have no firm stats, but I'll say that a vast majority of modern games have some dependency on servers. This means the games may become unplayable beyond the control of gamers. Sometimes a game requires a Day-One update, other times only a leader-board feature is dependent. But how do you tell. Looking through games on a retail shelf gives little info about a title's dependency on an outside resource like servers.

Switch Legacy is a side project - like most of us it's creator has a separate full-time job - providing info about Nintendo Switch game dependencies. Using an "A" through "F" ratings system, the degree of playability is described on a chart outlining each rating's criteria. Collectors should find this useful when deciding on purchasing some physical game carts.

I grew up with an Atari 2600 which fostered the idea that the game you buy is the game you play. Quality control was high because there was no going back to release an online update or fix. A defective game would remain that way unless another run was produced and sent to retailers. While online updates offer a lot of good options, it also makes gamers feel more like beta testers. However, getting back to my original Atari console... I still use it today with my son and the games play just the way they did when I was twelve and sitting on the living room floor in front of our TV.

Switch Game Cartridges Are Non-Writable

If you've ever played a Nintendo DS or 3DS game on a different console than your own, you may have been surprised to find your latest save state or high score was present. Similarly, if you bought a used game, you may find data from the previous owner.

The Nintendo Switch does not follow this model. It's game cards (I still call them cartridges) are non-writable, so everything from high scores and save states to updates and DLC is stored on the Switch console's internal memory. This creates a different experience from the previous handhelds. Switch game carts don't contain all your game data.

The non-writable status of Switch games is worth noting as potentially vital game updates may not be salvageable or moved from an old or damaged Switch console. All these factors may influence your desire to own a physical copy of a game destined for extinction in the future.

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