Nintendo Switch owners will finally be able to upload and store their save game data to the cloud this September, when the console’s online service launches. After an 18-month wait, owners will be relieved to have a way to back up their save games … for the low-cost of $20 a year, and only as long as keep paying that premium.
Because unlike any other console maker out there, Nintendo offers no free method of backing up your Switch data. Unlike Nintendo 3DS, Wii U and Wii before it, the Switch currently locks all of your save games to its own hardware’s memory, with no option to move it to another location.
You can’t transfer saves between hardware with an SD card. You can’t back anything up to a personal hard drive. Until September, you can’t do anything about your saves whatsoever. This isn’t anything new, of course; we’re used to having to be extra careful about handling our Switch systems and their data at this point. Since it doubles as a handheld, the Switch faces additional risks that other consoles don’t: you could lose it, or drop it, or break it more easily than a home system.
While the promise of an online storage system is a definite relief, the options remain limited. Until Nintendo gives owners another solid, local-based solution — and it doesn’t sound like it’s planning to do so any time soon — Switch owners can pay up or take a risk.
Cloud saves for Switch seem particularly unsatisfying when compared to what’s available from Nintendo’s competitors. PlayStation owners have to pay $60 annually for cloud storage, among other online fixings, which is way steeper than Nintendo Switch Online’s annual subscription fee. But you don’t have to be a PlayStation Plus member to locally preserve your save data; just stick a USB drive into your PS4. Same goes for Xbox One and Steam, both of which support cloud storage and local backups without an additional cost.
We asked Nintendo if and when it plans to introduce another backup method, the company merely spoke about cloud saves.
“A Nintendo Switch Online membership is required to use the Save Data Cloud backup service,” a Nintendo rep told Polygon.
So, yes, it’s lovely that we’ll have the option to store our save games in one other place, just in case something happens to our Switch consoles. And we don’t want to be grumps about Nintendo finally giving us cloud storage like we’ve asked for since day one. It’s just bizarre how, when the company takes a step forward, Nintendo still paints itself into a corner — where, even with its back to the wall, it refuses to sync up with the rest of the console generation.