SanDisk's Making Nintendo Switch-Branded MicroSDXC Cards

Nintendo announced that SanDisk will release Switch-branded microSDXC cards in October. The cards themselves won't be unique, aside from their inclusion of the Switch logo, but the partnership could allow SanDisk to become the brand of choice for Switch owners looking for extra storage.

Two cards will be available. The first bears Link from The Legend of Zelda on its packaging and, more important, boasts a 64GB capacity with up to 100MBps sequential read and 60MBps sequential write speeds. The second features Mario from, well, you know. That card has a 128GB capacity and up to 100MBps sequential read and 90MBps sequential write speeds. Nintendo didn't reveal pricing information or a firm release date for either card.

The announcement of these cards featured all of the usual PR speak—praise for each company's market share, talking up the Switch's reception, etc.—but it also contained an interesting tidbit about upcoming games. Here's what Nintendo said about why people will want these cards:

Additional storage enables players to download more digital games and content, and take it all on the go. Also, a microSD card will be needed for certain Nintendo Switch games that contain an especially large amount of content and require additional storage for players to enjoy the full experience.

It's not clear if the second sentence refers to digital games that exceed the Switch's 32GB of built-in storage or to physical games that won't fit on a single cartridge. The former wouldn't be surprising; games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild require at least 13.8GB of storage if they're downloaded from the eShop. (And that doesn't even include save game data, expansions, and updates that could take up even more space.)

That means you could buy two particularly large games and run out of storage on the Switch. In that case, you either have to remove something from the console or purchase an SD card. Unless you plan to research the best cards—and we're sure you would, dear reader—chances are good that you'll just buy the Switch-branded SD cards with the familiar characters on their packaging right next to everything else Nintendo related.

The more intriguing possibility is that a single game will require more storage than the Switch's carts provide. We imagine that would be a tougher sell—part of the reason why people buy physical versions of games is to sidestep the storage problem. Still, we'd be interested to see how something could escape the bounds of those carts, even if the rise of digital gaming is the more likely explanation for Nintendo's statement.

Nintendo said these cards will be available at "select retail outlets" in October.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • Amokay
    Are they making more than 2 of each?
  • Mr5oh
    20128595 said:
    Are they making more than 2 of each?

    Well I'm sure they'll make enough to distribute to the 100 or so scalpers, so they market them up to 10-20x retail cost, so people who want the Zelda or Mario retail packaging to sit on their shelf can get it.

    Seriously this is why I don't have any new Nintendo stuff, I'm out. The NES classic was what made me finally realize they just keep doing this stuff, and until people start voting with their wallets and Nintendo will keep doing it.

    Fortunately this is SanDisk licensing the brand so user's may actually be able to get their hands on the product (I'm assuming)....
  • dstarr3
    I'll be interested to see if you have to pay a premium for Link or Mario printed on the packaging.
  • epobirs
    The idea that games could overrun cart capacity doesn't seem likely. It's likely they've followed Sony's use of flash cards as pseudo-ROM on the Vita. This greatly simplifies production compared to the hassles of mask ROM, which requires a costly procedure ever time you switch what product is being produced. With generic flash cards you can produce as few or many copies as needed without a penalty for small runs. They should be able to offer capacities up to 32GB at a very reasonable cost compared to mask ROM history. Since the Switch is effectively a 720p platform, it is hard to imagine what game is going to need more within the Switch's life cycle. Going up to 64 or even 128GB will be cost effective if the need can be shown.
  • sagatwarrior
    I wander if this is happening due to companies like SquareEnix considering bring the large games like Final Fantasy XV to Nintendo Switch.