Nintendo Switch Online’s save data cloud comes with some weird exclusions

Posted on September 19, 2018

In their latest online Direct, Nintendo finally unveiled Nintendo Switch Online: Nintendo’s version of Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live subscription services. The service offers multiple bonuses, one of the most notable being the ability to backup your game’s save data to the cloud. Phew! It’s a feature that Sony and Microsoft have offered for years, but it was nice to finally see Nintendo catching up.

Except… huh? There are a few important exceptions to the cloud save feature, discovered by Game Informer. Apparently, they found that a few notable games have a message on their eShop page that state that they will not be compatible with the cloud save feature.  The games found to not support cloud saves so far are Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, Splatoon 2, Fifa 19, Dark Souls Remastered, Dead Cells, and NBA 2K19. According to Game Informer, the message reads: “This game does not support data cloud backup”. This would mean that even if you have an online subscription, if something unfortunate happens to your game or console, your save is lost for good.

Splatoon 2 will reportedly not support cloud saves via Nintendo Switch Online

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t find any such messages on the eShop pages for the aforementioned games, indicating that the messages may have since been taken down if they ever existed. Nintendo did however confirm that some games will not be compatible with cloud saves in a response to Game Informer:

“The vast majority of Nintendo Switch games will support Save Data Cloud backup. However, in certain games this feature would make it possible to, for example, regain items that had been traded to other players, or revert to a higher online multiplayer ranking that had been lost. To ensure fair play, Save Data Cloud backup may not be enabled for such games. To ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings, the feature will not be enabled in Splatoon 2.”

This explanation is a little confusing, as automatic cloud saves are commonly used to prevent such cheating. An anonymous source has reportedly told Nintendolife that developers for Switch games can simply choose whether or not they want their game supported by cloud saves. If true, it’s a little galling to think that Nintendo Switch Online subscribers will be paying for a service that developers can simply opt out of.

In addition, it looks like your cloud saves will be deleted if you ever decide to discontinue your Nintendo Switch Online subscription. In the FAQ section for the online subscription, it states that “Save data stored with Save Data Cloud cannot be kept outside of the duration of your Nintendo Switch Online membership. Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online also uses the Save Data Cloud, so the same applies.”

The virtual Nintendo Entertainment System can at least save its files locally to the Switch, so those will be safe (but inaccessible) until you renew your subscription. But the same can’t be said for your Switch titles’ cloud saves – it appears they’ll be gone forever.

It’s still early days for the service yet, so there’s plenty of time for Nintendo to change things that prove unpopular. However, it’s still disheartening to see that Nintendo is struggling with services that other publishers have been competently providing for years already. Let’s just hope the ‘growing library of classic NES games’ will make up for it until it’s fixed.