I own a Nintendo 3DS and I was wondering if you buy a physical copy of a game, e.g. Pokemon Sun, does it need to download?

  • 4
    What is it you expect to download? Updates, yes (though I'm not aware of any yet). The game, no.
    – Nolonar
    Jan 14, 2017 at 23:29
  • 1
    @Nolonar The 1.1 update was released January 11.
    – pinckerman
    Jan 14, 2017 at 23:56

4 Answers 4


When you purchase a physical 3DS cartridge, the cartridge contains the game on it. You will not need to download the game.

Note however that this is separate from game updates, which you will still need to download onto an SD card. I don't believe Pokemon Sun / Moon have any such updates yet, but if you were to buy, say, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you'd need to download the updates that have been published since the release date.

  • 2
    Sun/Moon just had its first update released to fix some bugs that affects competitive play. Jan 15, 2017 at 12:57
  • 1
    side note: You can still play without downloading the update. In nearly all cases, features like online play will require the latest update to a game. (as there's a server side check if the game version matches the server version.) - This feature is so that players without constant internet access can still play, but those with internet are required to play with the same update/security settings as everyone else.
    – NBN-Alex
    Apr 24, 2017 at 17:44

You need to buy the game card (cartridge) that goes with it:

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This isn't like a computer where you download stuff: all the memory is stored within the cartridge rather than the 3DS itself (speaking about the game memory). Updates may/will be downloaded onto the 3DS itself though.

  • 5
    Game updates may need to be downloaded to the 3ds memory.
    – Elise
    Jan 14, 2017 at 23:28

If you have the physical game cartridge, then no. All data is stored on the game cartridge. Just note that while the game data is stored on the cartridge, update data is installed to the SD card

  • It's worth adding that while some games require the system to be updated before they're run, in those cases the cartridge has the system update on it, so you can install it from the cartridge without having to be online.
    – Sparkette
    Dec 5, 2020 at 2:24

If you have the physical cartridge, you will only need to install/download updates for the software off of the Nintendo e-shop

  • 8
    Don't add a new answer just to repeat what others have already said Apr 24, 2017 at 16:31
  • @n_palum To be fair, it does answer the question. It's simply a repeat of other answers
    – Oak
    Apr 24, 2017 at 17:19

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