[Artículo] The battle of the physical and digital on Nintendo Switch

The divide between the physical and digital market, even on the Nintendo Switch, is ever widening. A few years ago, the traditional sales method hardly left room for innovation in the non-tangible. For a long time, consumers preferred to go to their trusted store to buy games. The passing of the years and the convenience of digital storesavailable 24 hours a day, caused this option far exceeds the physical. Furthermore, the arrival of a pandemic that changed our lives it only accelerated a generational change that was destined to happen.

In September 2020, a few months after returning to a certain normality, Nintendo assured that the success of the digital on Switch would not cause them to put aside the physical. Shuntaro Furukawa, president of the brand, acknowledged that the non-tangible sales of the brand they had evolved a lot since 2006. Around this time, the big N began distributing digital titles on the Wii Shop Channel. More than a decade later, as Furukawa himself pointed out, “both the number and the proportion of sales are on an upward trend.” This quote, in a nutshell, alludes to the fact that we are only at the beginning of a booming market that, at least for the moment, does not threaten traditional sales.

A minority that refuses to disappear

In 2017, the date on which the Nintendo Switch was released, the distance between the physical and the digital was minimal. GfK, a company specializing in financial reporting, noted at the time that the non-tangible market accounted for 54% of sales. This study, which encompassed all systems, highlighted that hybrid users had the highest rate of physical purchases. Since then, and although the distance has increased, the players of the Nintendo system continue to demonstrate that are faithful to the traditional method.

Unlike users of PlayStation and Xbox consoles, since physical sales on PC are anecdotal, Switch consumers are still not making the majority leap to digital. The existence of services such as Game Pass or PS Now, non-existent in the hybrid, has caused the balance to begin to lean towards these services. In fact, the sale of additional content and subscriptions is an asset for many of these companies. Furukawa himself, shortly after the declarations of the first lines, recognized that the distribution of this type of product was a success for the company. However, despite the general trend, it seems that users of the Nintendo console are still the Rare avis of the sector.

For many Nintendo Switch users, the physical weighs more than the digital

It is nothing new that the players of the systems of the great N have that “something” differential. While users of other systems begin to benefit from the advantages of digitalmany of the Nintendo Switch consumers they do not forget the virtues of the physical. An example, to cite one, could be the latest results from the United Kingdom. According to these, compared to the previous year, sales of physical games increased by 47%. This ultimately implies that the users of this territory bet again on the traditional sale. Nintendo Switch, unlike other systems, sees how difficult it is for digital to gain ground over physical.

For comfort and accessibility, a priori, the non-tangible area starts with an advantage. 24-hour availability and constant offers make it more practical for the user to advocate for this market. However, there is a certain magic that will always be related to physical games. Going to your trusted store, chatting with the clerk and browsing the shelf looking for some “jewel” is something that, if we bet on digital, we will inevitably end up losing. Unfortunately, neither does it serve to idealize physical sales. For years, these editions show a certain sloppiness which, with few exceptions, translates into absence of manuals and empty plastic boxes. Since virtue is in balance, the logical thing, except for hecatomb, would be preserve the physical without neglecting the advantages of the digital.

And you, do you prefer to buy digital games or do you like to go to the store to get them? Which format is more comfortable for your way of life? We read you in the comments.

Final note: As a curiosity, you can also consult the Heads or tails centered on this debate that we held a few years ago.

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