Switch Game Stack
Image: Gemma Smith / Nintendo Life

If you hadn't already guessed, we on Team Nintendo Life love a bit of physical media. Yes, the convenience of downloading a game from the eShop is unbeatable, but if we have the chance to get one of those red-spined boxes on our shelves, we'll take it. We do have one insistence, though: those boxes have to come with a cartridge inside.

Well of course you need your cartridge, that's the most important bit, you might say, but it turns out that there have recently been multiple instances of customers buying a physical Switch game only for the box to arrive with the cart slot empty.

To be clear, we are not talking about code-in-a-box physicals here, but boxed copies that should have a cart inside. Take the following tweet from artist and game designer Ste Pickford (formally of Rare and Software Creations), where he shows that his copy of Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration — a standard physical release that was not code-in-a-box — arrived fully wrapped, but cart-less.

In fact, as Pickford writes, this is not the first time that this has happened. Taking a browse through Twitter, it appears that there is currently a scam prevalent on online stores (particularly Amazon, it seems) where certain customers are removing a game's wrapping, taking the cart and then carefully re-wrapping the box to send it back to the store for a refund as if nothing ever happened. These tampered-with boxes are assumed to be in perfect condition and are subsequently put up for resale where they are sent out to the next customer without the all-important cart in tow.

It's a trick that has been around for a while and is by no means unique to copies of Atari 50 — @RetroGamer_Daz stated it happened to him with a copy of TMNT: Cowabunga Collection, @PaulWasAllTaken with No Man's Sky — but that doesn't make the scam any less annoying. We buy physical media for a whole variety of reasons (preservation, collections etc.) but without the cart itself, what's the point?

What's more, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot. Pickford notes in his thread that Switch games often come in Nintendo-branded cellophane, but this isn't always the case. Replying to the original story, @Lutzoid shows an unboxing of another Atari 50 box (also in clear cellophane and without the Nintendo 'band' strap around the middle), but this one came with the cartridge. How do you know if you've bought the real deal? You don't, it seems.

So, we thought that we would put the topic out to you lovely lot and find out just how widespread of an issue this is. Has a similar scam ever happened to you? You can fill out the following poll to let us know.

Have you ever ordered a physical game that came with the cart missing?

Which game did you miss out on through a scam like this? Do you know of any telltale signs to spot a tampered-with box? Let us know in the comments.

[source twitter.com]