I, like many people, welcomed compact discs as the video game medium to replace cartridges. They were thin, shiny, and fit the vision of utopian futurists. The benefits included high storage and low and production costs. A 750 MB compact disc could be injection-molded and stamped for about a nickel whereas the cartridges required a memory unit, bus, and housing resulting in low storage at a high cost. But unlike CDs, cartridges were durable and data loading was instant. How important was storage though? The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, released on Nintendo 64 cartridge, was one of the best reviewed games of all time (CNET gave it a 10 out of 10) so a game's quality is probably not measured in gigabytes.
Did game prices go down with the reduced production costs of CDs? Not where I shop. That's because the cost of cartridges was absorbed by the publishers. In truth, a video game's retail price is seldom a function of production costs. And I doubt retailers were repelled by the idea of gamers re-purchasing games that had been fatally scratched.
Flash memory prices are tanking and I predict a return of the cartridge. Portable electronics flash memory cards sell for about $10 a gig. I figure an array of about a dozen could be packed into an Atari-sized game cartridge and could easily hold any new game release, load instantly, be more durable, and publishers will once again absorb the higher price. Don't forget flash memory is re-writable so we can throw away those console memory cards and hard drives.