Cartridges have been around since the early days of gaming, but Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter believes that this might have come to an end.
Pachter believes that cartridges are becoming less cost effective as the price of laser discs continue to fall and the viability game downloads continue to increase. "The Blu-ray disc holds 54GBs of information. The average Xbox 360 game is 7GBs, so you could put a high-def game, or seven, on a BR disc. That BR disc costs 70cents to make. To put 54GBs on [flash memory] it would be a couple of hundred bucks," he noted.
Pachter concluded that: "You may still have cartridges on the handhelds with the 3DS. After that with the next generation I think not, zero."
Laser disc solutions such as Sony's UMD may be more cost effective, but they are less convenient for the users due to their proneness to scratching and their low data transfer rate (compared to flash-based carts). Downloadable-only games model hasn't gained momentum for mainstream games either, so we don't expect Pachter's prediction to occur in the near future.