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?

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    What is it you expect to download? Updates, yes (though I'm not aware of any yet). The game, no. – Nolonar Jan 14 '17 at 23:29
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    @Nolonar The 1.1 update was released January 11. – pinckerman Jan 14 '17 at 23:56

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.

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    Sun/Moon just had its first update released to fix some bugs that affects competitive play. – Private Pansy Jan 15 '17 at 12:57
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    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 '17 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.

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    Game updates may need to be downloaded to the 3ds memory. – Elise Jan 14 '17 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

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

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

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