Why don't console games go back to cartridges?

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by zixu, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. zixu
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    I was wondering why. Surely load times would be faster right? Only thing I could think of were the costs of making the cartridges vs CDs
     


  2. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    The Nintendo Switch will be using carts, for a long time, they were a problem due to severely limited space and production costs. NAND/flash is so cheap nowadays and can hold several GB easily.
     
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  3. vincentx77

    vincentx77 GBAtemp Regular

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    Games don't run off of optical media. PS4 and XBOne games are stored on them. You install them to your HDD, where they are then played from, updated to, etc. Discs are considerably cheaper than flash memory, and these manufacturers would have to either make games on flash media large enough to accommodate all of these updates, or you'd still be running part of the game off of the HDD anyway. So it really wouldn't change things very much.
     
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  4. DinohScene

    DinohScene Capture the Dino

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    Production costs.

    Flash based storage might be "cheap" but if you're talking about millions of them...
    Lets say that a 1 GB flash chip costs 5 cents, a 50 GB Blu-ray costs 4 cents (both to produce)
    Take both and multiply it by a million.

    For home consoles, it's cheaper to use optical media (or digital downloads, completely eliminates costs) and handhelds, it's best to have flash based media.
    The PSP was an experiment with optical media, it wasn't that successful tho.
     
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  5. zixu
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    zixu Member

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    That's exactly what I was thinking. How big do you think they'll be? Size of N64 carts or more like DS? I kinda want the former for aesthetic reasons haha
     
  6. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Honk!

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    I forgot
    They show a mock cartridge in the announcement video, cartridges appear to be around the size of a 3DS cart, though just a tad longer.

    And yeah, cartridges are waaay too expensive to mass produce vs optical media, using them for anything other than a portable would be a financial fuck up purely because of the cost.
     
  7. RevPokemon

    RevPokemon GBATemp's 3rd Favorite Transgirl

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    Except they have to calculate the cost of hosting said files such as security, server costs, and etc. which does ending up costing something although it is normally better if only because the issues regarding distribution are gone.
     
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  8. DinohScene

    DinohScene Capture the Dino

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    Harddisks are quite cheap, when it comes to mass storage.
    Say that a 1000TB data server would cost 100000 (including high bandwith network and power)
    That's still a lot less then the several 100 grand a Blu-ray would cost.
    Excluding the paper used for the manuals and inlays and the plastic for the cases.
    Not to mention that on the data server, you can host a fuck ton more games then on a blu-ray.

    I'm unfortunately not to familiar with the costs of digital vs physical, nor do I really care as well.

    Fact remains, flash based storage for consoles is a hell of a lot more expensive then optical media or digital downloads.
    Which answers OP's question of why consoles don't go back to cartridges.

    Back in the 80's and early 90's games weren't big at all, so dumping them on a CD would be a waste of storage space on CDs.
    Games only became bigger as the 3D era approached, Playstation 1 and Saturn? where the ones to understand it that you best could sacrifice some load time for increased play time in games, not to mention bigger worlds, better music, better graphics.
    Carts back then where still severely limited (as ROM space was really expensive)
     
  9. smf

    smf GBAtemp Maniac

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    The Wii used discs and didn't have a hard disk, so developers were forced to finish their games before they sold them. The same thing could happen with a read only cartridge.

    No, games always grew to fill the storage space available. There were CD based systems before the PS1/Saturn. The problem with the earlier CD systems was that they were too expensive, because the cost of the hardware hadn't been driven down. Otherwise you certainly would have seen 8-bit CD systems.

    A lot of people in the 80's were playing games from multi-load audio cassettes, in some cases they were double sided and in a few cases the games were spread over multiple cassettes.

    ROM space is still really expensive. A dual layer bluray is much cheaper to produce than a 50gb cartridge. They haven't gone to cartridges because they make financial sense again, they did it because discs don't make sense for a portable system. They are too fragile.

    The cost of distributing files is significantly less than mass producing and distributing discs, for both up front and ongoing costs. The problem with digital distribution is at the customer end.
     
    Last edited by smf, Oct 28, 2016
  10. RandomUser

    RandomUser What has gotten into you Rosie?

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    Also the cost further increased for NAND based 1GB chip vs BD-Disk, for example and for simplicity, for an 8GB game, they would require 8 1GB flash chip or an 8GB flash chip thus costing them 35-40¢ per units vs still 4¢ BD-Disk as the 8GB per unit can easily fit into a 50 or even a single layer 25GB BD-Disc.
     
  11. DinohScene

    DinohScene Capture the Dino

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    Pretty much that yes.

    It's the same for harddrives.
    Magnetic storage of harddrives still is cheaper then flash storage in SSDs.
    Sure, SSDs are a lot more reliable and not to mention faster, but when it comes to data hungry storage, conventional harddrives still win.
    When it come to long term storage, magnetic tapes are used, which run into the several TBs.
    They barely access the data but still have to store it somewhere.

    It's basically just a matter of storing data as cheaply as possible, especially on a large scale.
     
  12. DiscostewSM

    DiscostewSM GBAtemp Guru

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    But is this flash chip just ROM like what is expected in the cartridges, or is it rewritable? In so many gross comparisons, the latter is typically used against a write-once DL BR disc without a single thought to equality of the comparison.
     
  13. DinohScene

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    If it where to be used for handhelds etc, it'll be ROM yep.

    it's not a accurate comparison at all as I don't know the costs of both media.
    Their just estimates based on what they retail.
     
  14. vincentx77

    vincentx77 GBAtemp Regular

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    I was simply referring to current gen hardware. Of course older machines actually played the games from discs. The issue though, is that devs may or may not have actually finished the game before it was pressed. There were plenty of buggy, hot messes out there before the invention of the 360 and PS3.

    As far as the rest of this discussion is going, even if the price of NAND was somehow even close to being on par with optical discs, it's still not as fast as reading from HDD. SSD drives combine multiple NAND chips with DRAM and special controller chips to achieve their speed. The thing that made old school cartridge games so special is that the console could essentially swap data from the cartridge to the internal system RAM almost instantly, making it act almost like RAM extension (and that's exactly what happens with the Saturn 4 meg cart). Making cartridge ROMs that can hot swap at data speeds in newer consoles, while do-able, isn't something that we, as gamers, are going to want to pay for. It would be a Neo-Geo situation all over again.
     
  15. cracker

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    In the case of the PSP and Vita, Sony raked in a crapload of money with their proprietary memory cards so it was a reverse situation with them. I know this only applies to downloadable games but they make up the majority of titles on the Vita (and all on the PSP Go).
     
  16. Futurdreamz

    Futurdreamz GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    The thing is, for the Xbox One and PS4 games get installed to the hard drive BECAUSE disk-based media isn't fast enough for playback anymore. That necessitates the need for a larger hard drive and storage management, something Nintendo would rather avoid. Cartridges are a better solution for Nintendo. Whether or not other systems follow suit remains to be seen. Sony and Microsoft have always used disk-based consoles (and Sony even had a disk-based handheld) so they have no experience with cartridges. It's up to them to see if they will be a better idea - if they ever come out with anything after the PS Neo and Scorpio.
     
  17. Sakitoshi

    Sakitoshi everything is going according the plan...

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    Add to that that games back then on the SNES era were all uncompressed or very mildly compressed so the data could be used directly while now days the data is always compressed and can't be used right away, this is to make the most out of the limited capacity of the storage medium. Metal Gear 4 is the prime example of it, needing to uncompress big amounts of data every chapter.
     
  18. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    We don't need cartridges or discs at this point, all physical storage media is obsolete in the age of fiber. Whether gamers like it or not, the industry will eventually go digital - someone just needs to make the first brave step. As much as I like physical copies, I can see a world in which only "special editions" will be found on store shelves, and all they'll have in the box will be a download code.
     
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  19. p1ngpong

    p1ngpong Unamused frog

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    Costs aside the way modern game devs roll out patches, DLC and so on there is literally no point in using cartridges. Sure you would have some fast access on a cartridge for the day one data of the game but you would still need gigs and gigs of HDD space for the patches, dlc and updates. If at the end of the day only half the data you are using for running your game is coming from the cartridge and the rest is coming from a hdd how can you justify using a cart? You might as well just go with a cheap BR and dump everything to a cheap hdd and save money all round.

    This is actually why I think the Switch will fail to entice as much third party support as people think it will bring. I can not see the Switch having a lot of onboard storage, maybe 32gb-128gb max plus maybe another 256gb with an sd card. Games are only getting bigger these days, COD Infinite warfare has a disclaimer that it will use up to 130gb of HDD space and most games on PS4 and X1 weigh in at least 40gb+ with any patches and dlc adding more. I can not see the Switch's carts supporting games of this size and I cannot see the Switches's internal storage being enough for DLCs and patches. I think ultimately the lack of a HDD will cripple any cross platform potential the Switch has as third party devs will just not bother going to the effort of catering to yet another gimped Nintendo console who's core userbase are hostile to those sort of AAA mainstream games anyway.
     
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  20. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    The Switch will fail to entice third-party developers because it's a low-power Tegra-based tablet, storage is the least of its worries. It's a major step up from the 3DS, but with the Pro and Scorpio on the horizon with multiple teraflops of computational power under their hoods it will be left it the dust, that's just how the cookie crumbles.
     
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