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Nintendo Switch Is Not Backwards Compatible with Wii U Discs, 3DS Cartridges

Nintendo Switch

Is this a deal breaker for you?

Yesterday, Nintendo officially announced the Switch, a hybrid home/portable games console that seems destined to replace both the Wii U and the 3DS. As such, one of the biggest questions to arise was whether the Nintendo Switch will play Wii U or 3DS games.

As it turns out, the tablet-like console won’t play either. Or, at least, it won’t play either platform’s physical media, a Nintendo representative confirmed today in an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu.


“Since the Nintendo Switch is not a Wii U or Nintendo 3DS successor machine, you can not play with Wii U disk software and Nintendo 3DS card,” reads a Google translation of the interview.

The representative’s words appear to be deliberate in that they definitively rule out the playing of Wii U and 3DS physical media on the Nintendo Switch, but leave the door cracked open for some sort of digital solution. Many gamers and media members speculated yesterday that the console could get some sort of PlayStation Now-like service, a sort of Netflix for back catalog games from older systems.

This possibility did not come up during the Famitsu interview, but the Nintendo rep did confirm something else that many viewers of yesterday’s video had inferred: Switch games will come printed on cartridges, not discs. The rep stated that more details around the carts will be revealed closer to the console’s March 2017, but that the carts are being called game cards and are not optical discs.

The Wii U and 3DS are backwards compatible with respective predecessors Wii and DS. Conversely, Sony’s PlayStation 4 is not backwards compatible with the PlayStation 3, but while Microsoft’s Xbox One initially lacked backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games, Microsoft has since patched in the functionality for a growing number of — though not all — 360 releases.

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