Nintendo have recently made cloud saves accessible for subscribers to its Nintendo Switch Online service. However, the program had many caveats that made many gamers apprehensive of Nintendo’s approach. However, Nintendo have since made some clarifications about how the cloud save data works, which make things a little better.
Originally, Nintendo indicated on its FAQ page for Nintendo Switch Online that “Save data stored with Save Data Cloud cannot be kept outside of the duration of your Nintendo Switch Online membership”. This move attracted some backlash from many gamers, as it lagged behind Sony and Xbox’s offerings with their cloud save services. Although gated behind a paid subscription, they allow cloud saves to persist for several months after the paid subscription ends. However, going back to the FAQ page, Nintendo has updated the section with a policy that might make the program a little more palatable.
“If a Nintendo Switch Online membership expires, users won’t be able to access their Save Data Cloud backups. However, Nintendo will allow users who resubscribe within 180 days to access their previous Save Data Cloud backups. Classic games in the NES – Nintendo Switch Online collection and the save data for those games will not be removed unless the user chooses to do so manually. These items are stored locally on the Nintendo Switch system but cannot be accessed without an active Nintendo Switch Online membership.”
So, whether this was the plan all along, or a hasty fix in response to criticism, it appears that cloud saves will be safe for 6 months after the subscription ends. The cloud saves won’t be accessible without a subscription, unfortunately, but if you forget to renew your subscription, then at least your saves won’t be gone forever. Considering that the Switch is partly a portable console, it could easily be lost or stolen. As such, the introduction of cloud saves has been highly anticipated.
However, Nintendo’s cloud saves system still has a bunch of odd exceptions and caveats that are worth keeping in mind. For instance, not every game supports cloud saves. Some of the ones that don’t, such as Splatoon 2, and the upcoming Dark Souls Remastered and Pokemon Let’s Go titles, are the sorts where losing dozens or hundreds of hours of save data could be particularly bothersome. Allowing games to be compatible with cloud saves is apparently at the developer’s discretion. Thus, it is important for gamers to check before buying to see if the game supports cloud saving.