Cartridges have shown themselves to be surprisingly resilient, having been around since the days of Atari, and still in heavy use in mdern handhelds such as the Nintendo DS. This, despite many analysts poitning to the success of Sony’s Playstation over Nintendo’s N64 as signalling the permanent demise of the cartridge format. In fact, cartridges have now gotten a new lease of life, with solid state memory cheaper, more efficient and more accessible than ever before, and with the PSP conclusively proving that optical media simply cannot work in a handheld.
It is then quite surprising to hear renowned analyst Michael Patcher, whose predictions are almost never correct, to proclaim the 3DS being the last cartridge based Nintendo handheld. With these handhelds being the cartridge format’s final bastion, this could effectively kill off the format permanently.
Patcher attributes this mostly to the rise of sizeable internal memory, which can hold all games within the system itself and kill off the need to purchase physical copies of a game, a format that could work well on the handhelds.
Says Patcher: “The Blu-ray disc holds 54GBs of information. The average Xbox 360 game is 7GBs, so you could put a high-def game, or seven, on a BR disc. That BR disc costs 70cents to make. To put 54GBs on [flash memory] it would be a couple of hundred bucks.”
The current DS uses flash-based carts, but Pachter says it will probably be the last of its kind: “I actually think Nintendo is going to migrate away from that. Think about the iPod as an example,” he adds touting their some 32GBs of built-in flash memory.
He went on: “You may still have cartridges on the handhelds with the 3DS. After that with the next generation I think not, zero.”
Well, I just hope that he’s wrong. I don’t know what I’d hate more, the adoption of optical media in handhelds, like with the PSP, or handhelds going download only. In any case, I don’t think Nintendo is stupid. The PSP and the PSP Go respectively should have warned them about the potential dangers of moving away from cartridges.