The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic little device that can run a huge library of first and third-party games both at home and on the go. Sure, the thing is showing its age a little in 2023, but then, my PS5 can’t run The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, so specs only matter so much.
But specs are important, and I’m not talking about processing power. I’d love to play Zelda in 4K 60fps, but that’s not the issue I’m concerned about today. The one spec that really matters is storage space, and your Switch most certainly does not have enough of it.
Nintendo never gives you enough storage space
As much as I stan for Nintendo, the company makes some questionable decisions. Back in 2012, Nintendo released two versions of the Wii U: one with 8GB of storage, and one with 32GB of storage (you know, for the real gamers). Even in 2012, 32GB of storage was not much space, as anyone who decided to buy their games digitally would soon discover. So naturally, when Nintendo launched the Switch back in 2017, it decided to equip its new console with a lot more space than that, right? Hahaha.
Nope, they gave us 32 GB again. That’s too limiting for a smartphone, let alone a game console, and most Switch players know it. That internal storage fills up fast, even if you stick to buying physical games, leaving you with two options: buy external storage, or constantly delete stuff.
Those two tactics have never been more necessary for Switch fans than right now — especially if you plan to download the latest Zelda game.
Tears of the Kingdom is a big game
As of this writing, Nintendo says a digital copy of Tears of the Kingdom will take up a whopping 16GB of storage on your Switch, a bit lower than the previously reported 18.2GB, but that’s still exactly half of the system’s advertised space. Of course, your usable storage space is less than that, so in actuality Tears of the Kingdom uses well more than half of it.
If you’re like me (actually use your Switch to play video games), you do not have the room on your Switch for this game right now. In fact, I’ve maxed out between both my internal and external storage options, which means I have a limited amount of time to clear some space.
You don’t necessarily need to clean house in order to make room for a digital copy of Tears of the Kingdom, however. The simplest deletion might seem painful at first, but it makes sense, given the situation: Breath of the Wild. We all love it, and I can hardly imagine the Switch without it, but it’s another massive game, weighing in at 15.7GB including DLC. Deleting it gets you nearly all the way to Tears of the Kingdom’s 16GB. Problem solved. Seeing as you’ll be busy with the newest version of Hyrule, it makes sense to sacrifice the old one, at least for now.
The good news is you don’t have to delete your save game data in order to remove these large files. Your Switch separates the two, so you can remove the GBs of game data without affecting your MBs of save data. You can safely delete your copy of Breath of the Wild, then redownload it at a later date and pick up right where you left off.
For those that would rather have the opportunity to flip flop between both Switch-era Zelda titles, you’ll need to other games to clear. To delete any game from your Switch, head to Settings > Data Management. You can use the Quick Archive tool to archive games right away, or the Manage Software tool to have the choice to delete them instead. Either way, you’ll be able to archive or delete any game data you’d like. (You remove the same amount of storage whether archiving or deleting, but archiving a game allows you to quickly redownload it from a tile on the home screen, rather than requiring you to go through the eShop.)
Other options for quickly making space on your Switch
That said, one “easy” solution, if you haven’t done so already, is to buy expandable storage for your Switch. A microSDXC card is your best bet, since you can boost your storage by up to 2TB. The larger the card, the more expensive they are, but you’ll reduce your need to perform data gymnastics the next time a game like Tears of the Kingdom launches.
Another answer is to simply buy the game physically. While physical Switch games do take up some of your storage, it’s only a fraction the space of their digital counterparts. You need space for your save game data, update data, and any DLC you buy, but other than that, the rest of the game is stored on the cart itself.
We don’t know how much data this latest Zelda game will take up as a cartridge, but unless you’re totally maxed out (like I am), you might have enough space on your Switch to play a physical Tears of the Kingdom copy. You just won’t be able to play it right at midnight like us digital players. (Of course, you might be playing it right now.)