What if you buy digital & lose your 3DS?

3DS eshop

There are many different archetype groups of video game consumers out there. These types can then be be compiled into two primary groups; digital consumers and physical consumers. Even though these groups are separate in reality they tend to mix. So what I refer to in this article are not the actual purchases, but the preference. Take for example Two of the buttonsmashers editors; Neko prefers physical games when given the option between the two. He has a pretty sizable collection of gba, ds, ps2, and Wii games. If you know anything about these platforms you’ll. Know that their games are predominantly physically distributed. Neko has built this collection over the years and though his steam account ain’t a slouch I know without a doubt that if he could physical copies of those games with cases, booklets and all, he’ll take them that way.

Now I am the complete opposite of my bro. Though I have quite a few physical games. I prefer to have my games in a digital format with the ability to make cloud backups if possible. I didn’t always think so candidly about digital and the cloud, but over time my being exposed to them has thought me to appreciate the benefits that they have to offer.

So what are the pros and cons for either medium?




  • Physical offers a tangible backup that you can safe guard in whatever way you see fit.
  • It offers immediate access to your games without the need to download.
  • They represent a form of wealth, because they can be resold or bartered with relative ease from one person to another.
  • Much more tangible pre-order bonuses (figurines, art books, CDs, etc…)



  • Physical copies, especially disc based versions can be easily damaged.
  • They can be lost or stolen.
  • Physical games tend to be more expensive due to manufacturing cost.
  • Due to the process of manufacturing it is also more harmful to the environment.




  • Digital games are cheaper because there is no manufacture cost.
  • Digital copies may be accessible from anywhere via the internet.
  • Digital offers the potential of cloud based backups for user content and save data.
  • Access to a large library of games on one device without need to remove or insert any medium.


  • Digital games tend to have some form of DRM that can make playing games a choir.
  • Without internet access it is impossible to get a game backup that you have stored on a digital account.
  • Digital games can be near impossible to be resold or traded.
Open 3DS 

Ok now for the reason I started writing this article.

My brother and I both have 3DS but our preferred medium differs. He prefers to buy most of his games physically, but I prefer the easier more accessible digital option. That has resulted in a mixed library for him because whenever I buy him a game for it I buy a digital copy. Now a few months ago my brother’s 3DS died and with it so too did his copy of Pokemon X. He eventually got a new one, but that didn’t include his copy of Pokemon. Even though  he used the same club Nintendo account registered to the same email address his copy of the game was nonexistent. After we tried a few options like transferring his SD card data and more we eventually give up on the possibility of him getting his copy back. We all but accepted the ill fate that had been dealt upon us until a few nights ago when he and I were discussing the release of the two new pkm games and he mentioned that he was turned off of the series because he had lost his copy of the previous iteration of the popular franchise. It was at that point that I suggested we call Nintendo customer service to inquire if it is possible to get the game transferred to the new 3DS, and as it turns out it was. I spoke on the phone to customer service for a while and it was great. The guy even waited for me to find the old 3DS so that I could give him the serial code to transfer the account data from it to the new one. The process itself was simple. Once we had both systems all he needed were the codes on the back of them and he was able to put in the transfer order to move all account data from the old 3DS to the new one. It took approximately 2 days for my brother to get the email notification that the process was complete and was then able to download the game. He didn’t get back his save data, due to the fact that Nintendo didn’t have cloud backups at the time when his system died, but at the very least he had his game back. know that I fee safe to continue purchasing my games digitally without worry of loosing them. 😉

This has now assured me in my decision to choose digital with regards to my 3DS.

Qudduws Campbell

That messy hair bloke: Romantic, Food lover, Gamer, Sports Fan, Manga Reader, Tech Head, Podcaster... Pretty much do a bit of everything.


  1. I’ve also weighed the pros and cons of digital vs physical and I’m still pro-physical, mainly because I’m a collector as well and I just love seeing my cartridges and my game cases on a shelf.

    Another pro for physical is that, if you have multiple devices in a household, you can easily play any game on any of your devices (with the exception of games with paid DLC). That’ll be big for me since I have a 2DS and am planning on getting a New 3DS once a NA version is released – going physical means I don’t have to buy two copies of most of my games.

    1. That is a very valid point about physical. When the new 3DS releases over here I plan to transfer my data to it and give my sis my current 3DS. I do have a few physical games so she can play those till i get her some of her own, but it wold be nice if I could give her access to some of my digital games too like steam does. 🙁