The Nintendo Switch is a fun game console, but it’s surprisingly fragile. Its kickstand can snap off like a twig; its screen is easy to scratch; and, apparently, inserting a damaged game cartridge into your console can break the card reader, making it unable to play physical games.
This disturbing discovery comes courtesy of a Japanese blog Esuteru, reporting on a YouTube video from a repair shop notifying people of the issue.
Here’s the problem: If you look at the back of a Nintendo Switch cartridge, you’ll notice a set of deep ridges on the bottom half, separated by plastic strips. If any of those strips is broken or cracked enough to move, it is possible for the cartridge to damage a component in the console.
According to the repair shop, once the component inside the Switch is damaged, it cannot be repaired. (At least not without sending your console to Nintendo).
The easiest way to prevent this is simply to inspect the backs of your games before inserting them into your Nintendo Switch. If there are any loose pieces, do not play the game. This goes double for when you are using cartridges you don’t own—according to Esuteru, the Switch in the video broke after the owner borrowed a game from a friend.
I would also be extra careful when buying used Switch games or renting them from services like Gamefly, which send loose cartridges through the mail.
Also, make sure to take extra care with your Switch cartridges. Always make sure to place them in their boxes or a secure carrying case when they aren’t in your console. Switch cartridges are more like SD Cards than old school game carts—they cannot handle much wear.
To be clear, while it’s a scary problem, the fact that the issue hasn’t been widely reported for two years since the Switch launched suggests that it is relatively easy to avoid.