Nintendo Switch not backwards compatible with physical 3DS or Wii U games

Digital games have not been ruled out, leaving the door open for eShop purchases or re-releases.


Nintendo confirmed that its upcoming Switch console/handheld duo is not compatible with physical 3DS cards or Wii U discs. Japanese gaming publication Famitsu sent the company a number of questions and posted its responses as an FAQ (via GameSpot).

Given that the Switch has been shown using cartridges—more palatable for portable use, as cartridges don't skip and scratch while in use—it should not come as a surprise that the console won't support Wii U discs. Running 3DS cards seemed a possibility, but Nintendo gave Famitsu a definitive answer on that topic as well.

Nintendo's decision is not only pragmatic, it makes good business sense. While nothing has been confirmed, the eShop storefront will likely make the jump to Switch, giving Nintendo the perfect opportunity to sell digital copies of classic and/or remastered software made for legacy platforms.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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  • reply
    October 21, 2016 3:50 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Nintendo Switch not backwards compatible with physical 3DS or Wii U games

    • reply
      October 21, 2016 9:30 PM

      There were 2 ports on the side of the dock unit. Not sure if they were USB or some kind of proprietary thing. I assume they were USB and may allow for external storage. That would make sense to allow for more storage with the dock. Yes, this is a reversal of my previous comment about how this very arrangement could be a bad UX. Just speculating.

      • reply
        October 21, 2016 9:33 PM

        Could be. I'm pretty certain it'll be used for things like the Gamecube controller adapter when you want to play Smash (or Gamecube Virtual Console plz)

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