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The Nintendo Switch's Cloud Save Paywall Has People Mad

Paying for cloud saves is one thing. Having to pay because there's no other option is something else.

Analysis by Nadia Oxford, .

Yesterday, Nintendo revealed details for Nintendo Switch Online, the company's plan for unifying the Switch's online services and capabilities in September. The news kicked off cheers and celebration across the Internet, especially the proclamation that cloud saves are finally, finally coming to the Switch. Then everyone's good mood turned on a dime because we're talking about Nintendo, and nothing Nintendo's involved in can ever be straightforward.

Nintendo Switch Online does offer some interesting services, and its pricing is very fair ($3.99 USD for one month, $7.99 USD for three months, $19.99 USD for a year, and $34.99 USD for an annual family plan). Problem is, the Switch's cloud saving feature is locked up behind the Switch Online paywall—and there's currently no other way to back up your save files.

Switch owners have been walking on eggshells since the system's launch a year ago, waiting for some kind of save back-up system to be implemented. It was widely assumed cloud saving was in the works, and that proved true. Now that our 200-hour Breath of the Wild saves aren't in danger of expiring along with our Switch if something should happen (provided we can make it until September), Switch owners should be breathing a sigh of relief. Instead, the news about Nintendo's cloud saves is driving them to vent their irritation.

It's not Nintendo's pay-to-save cloud system that's troubling; many gizmo developers require a fee for cloud save access. The problem is, the Switch offers no other choice for save data back-up. You can't plug in a memory card. You can't plug in an external hard drive like you can with the PlayStation 4. You can't dig a USB dongle out of your drawer. With Nintendo Switch Online, if you're not part of a plan, you can't back up your save data. If you lose your Switch, break it, or accidentally drop it down a sewer grate (life is unpredictable), your Switch is gone, and your saves are finito too.

Resetera member "Redhead on Moped" is organizing a "Save the Saves" movement in hopes of getting Nintendo to budge on the issue. "For those not in the know, there is no way to back up Nintendo Switch saves to an SD card or via USB," Redhead writes. "The only option is the cloud this fall, behind a paywall, and that is a problem."

The #SaveTheSaves hashtag has picked up some momentum on Twitter, where people generally agree Nintendo's failure to offer any backup plan beyond "pay us" is anti-consumer.

If the Nintendo Switch's hardware is incapable of backing up saves for whatever reason, there's no excuse for Nintendo not to give us a bit of free data for game saves. Unless Nintendo just enjoys tempering its good news and goodwill with morsels of bad decisions that make everyone angry. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

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Comments 40

  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #1 LunarFlame17 3 months ago
    I just can’t bring myself to care about the save backup thing. I mean, would it suck if my Switch was damaged, I sent it in for repair, and it came back with all my save data missing? Of course, but it’s hardly the end of the world. I just can’t wrap my head around getting up in arms about this, especially when a solution is coming, and it’s dirt cheap. I mean, if you can afford a $300 video game console, you can afford to pay $20 a year to backup your save data on said console.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #2 NiceGuyNeon 3 months ago
    I'm also on the "this is not exactly a big deal" train. Like, it sucks but also I can pay the freaking $20 a year. Like I have a hard time believing everyone complaining doesn't throw away $20 a given month on random crap they don't need. I have an unending backlog of games I haven't touched (almost 100), I buy stupid snacks and drinks when I'm not hungry, like its $20.

    If you don't like it, don't buy a Switch. That or wait for a hardware revision and see if there's a way to add extra save capability.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #3 SatelliteOfLove 3 months ago
    *deep breath*

    Nintendo.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #4 Jonnyboy407 3 months ago
    Disappointment I can get, even sympathize with. Outrage? Shut the fuck up. $20 a year, or about $1.67 a month, is egregious enough to try to start a movement? How did you afford a switch in the first place?
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #5 NiceGuyNeon 3 months ago
    @Jonnyboy407 I get thrown for a loop when people freak out over stuff like this. Does it suck? Yeah. Is it the first console service that hides its feature behind a pay wall? No. Like day to day life for most people must be so mundane that this is what drives them up a wall.
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  • Avatar for Flojomojo #6 Flojomojo 3 months ago
    "Gamers" are such whiners. I'm legit surprised no one is complaining about how unfair it is that you need to be on the internet to use cloud saves.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #7 Jonnyboy407 3 months ago
    @NiceGuyNeon so I'm deciding to do something good with some money when I pay the outrageous price of $20. I'm gonna donate $20 to water.org, which is an incredible charity that takes small donations and turns it into clean water sources for people with no water.

    My $40 will do 2 good things - give people water who really need it and backup my switch saves.
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  • Avatar for Wellman2nd #8 Wellman2nd 3 months ago
    I get why some especially those that may have already lost save data might be upset.

    Personally I am more pissed about the lack luster library of retro games they are trying to tempt us with. Seriously early Nintendo games is what they are tempting is with and you announced the VC is officially dead, come on Nintendo! You are better then that and don't you dare think the drip feed method is going to fly again.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #9 NiceGuyNeon 3 months ago
  • Avatar for BrianClark #10 BrianClark 3 months ago
    I'm glad they're bringing cloud saves, and I don't care about the paywall. $20 a year has been rumoured for a while, is extremely reasonable and is something I already intended to pay.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #11 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 months ago
    ‪After living my own nightmare, I wholeheartedly support #SaveTheSaves, though I'm happy that there will at least be SOMETHING now.‬
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  • Avatar for 0xDEADBEEF #12 0xDEADBEEF 3 months ago
    The reason Nintendo are so against storing your save files locally is that the Wii, 3DS, and possibly others first got hacked through altered save files brought in from untrusted sources, and they want to prevent that however they can. It's kinda pointless now that nVidia left a nasty exploit in their Tegra CPU, but Nintendo will want to keep things locked down after they start shipping Switches with updated chips.Edited May 2018 by 0xDEADBEEF
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #13 MetManMas 3 months ago
    I have mixed feelings.

    On the one hand, I do think it's stupid that the Nintendo Switch doesn't offer players a way to back up to back up save data to an SD card or something. Like, if I let my PS+ subscription lapse and I want to do some PS4 fridge cleaning, I can back up my save data on a USB flash drive. It's not an option I'd use often (I keep up with PSN for the deals), but it's an option I like having available.

    But on the other hand, the Nintendo Switch's online service is only $20 for an entire year. Now I can't speak for everybody, but for me personally, $20 or less is a sweet spot, one where I'm likely to buy just about anything digital games-wise, and while Nintendo's online service might not have much in the way of content to offer, $20 for an entire 12 months is a very reasonable price point to me.

    That said though, I can't think of many Nintendo Switch games that would make me want to keep an active Internet subscription. And I'm guessing that's the crux of the issue, people who want a way to back up their save data but don't want to pay money for a subscription to a service they would have little to no use for unless they're really into Splatoon or online Mario Kart 8 matches.
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  • Avatar for bigbadboaz #14 bigbadboaz 3 months ago
    2018.. Guess what, Nintendo still has no idea how to utilize the Internet.
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  • Avatar for NotCarolKaye #15 NotCarolKaye 3 months ago
    I wonder how many additional people will pay for the online service because of this. It's hard to imagine it'll be enough to compensate for the negative impression it gives people about them. They're giving an item to anyone who'd want to make a "Shitty Things Nintendo's Done" list.

    Silly. This could've been a positive story about the Switch, but they just had to be petty about it.

    Also, I know $20 for a year isn't much money. That's not the point to the people who are annoyed. It's about the principle of it.
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  • Avatar for docexe #16 docexe 3 months ago
    @bigbadboaz @NotCarolKaye
    It’s not really a matter of them not understanding Internet (Sony also has cloud saves behind a paywall for that matter) neither a matter of them being petty and wanting people to pay for the “privilege of backing up saves”. If anything, is more likely a matter of them being (again! *sigh* -_-) stupidly paranoid about hacks and piracy. At least I presume that’s the reason why they have not implemented a “save data back-up” in the Switch yet, given how the most common method to hack both the Wii and Wii U was by modifying save files.

    It’s a bummer though. I was planning on buying the subscription anyway (mostly for online multiplayer in Arms, Mario Kart and Smash Bros.), but people indeed shouldn’t have to buy it in order to back up their save files.
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  • Avatar for ATBro #17 ATBro 3 months ago
    @LunarFlame17 But you shouldn't have to. It's the most basic file copying functionality and there is no reason for it not to be there.
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  • Avatar for ATBro #18 ATBro 3 months ago
    It's disappointing to see so many people stick up for Nintendo on things like this. This is yet another example of how Nintendo is, by far, the least consumer friendly of the three console holders. I really believe that people confuse Nintendo, the company trying to get the biggest return out of the smallest investment, with Nintendo, the people who develop the games they like. Most people would, rightly, not give Sony or Microsoft that same leeway, and it feels like it's because they don't want to think critically about Nintendo.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #19 VotesForCows 3 months ago
    @ATBro you're absolutely right. This is a dumb, anti consumer move. I've been backing up whatever data I like for 30 years. It's trivial. Not allowing people to do it offline is BS.

    @niceguyneon it's ok to buy something, like it, and still find fault with it. I love my Switch but i also firmly believe that Nintendo are masters of anti -consumer crappy policies ☺
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #20 NiceGuyNeon 3 months ago
    @VotesForCows I'm not saying it's faultless or that Nintendo shouldn't be criticized but cloud storage is behind a paywall on PS4 (though it is free on Xbox of all things which is weird to me for some reason) so I view it as an industry standard considering Sony are kind of leading the way right now in everything. What sucks is that the hardware never gave the option to do manual storage of saves, but that's an issue that people knew of since day one and if they chose to buy the Switch they took that gamble imo

    It's something that sucks, but the moment consumers made it acceptable to pay to play online for our consoles in 2002 when we knew then and know now we don't have to is when I'm willing to look at the other features behind a pay wall and think, OK so what?

    If it's really that important to anyone in principle not to pay for this feature and store their saves another way then either don't pay for it or don't buy a Switch if it's a deal breaker.
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  • Avatar for Keivz #21 Keivz 3 months ago
    I'm usually a bit anti-N when it comes to their consumer practices but I can see where they are coming from here. On the one hand they don't want people to store saves on external devices because they can't seem to get around the security hole that creates. On the other hand they do not have the resources to indefinitely maintain cloud saves for each and every Switch owner without charging them for it. It's also a service most people will take advantage of and never actually use which makes it even more wasteful resource wise. I personally cannot recall ever losing a locally stored backup save or (therefore) needing to use a backup cloud / externally stored save. It's a rare event. And if and when it does happen it will likely be for a game I've long since abandoned and if I ever wanted to go back to I would just start from scratch anyway. So not at all a big deal in my eyes.Edited May 2018 by Keivz
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #22 LunarFlame17 3 months ago
    @ATBro I wouldnt say I’m sticking up for Nintendo. I do think they’re making the wrong move here. It’s more that I don’t think it’s worth getting mad about. There are people out there dying because they can’t afford healthcare, or enough food to eat, or a home to live in. Those are things worth getting mad about. Not whether or not you can backup save files on a video game console.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #23 link6616 3 months ago
    I think this is pretty silly...

    But I don't the anger is without merit. Given even the Vita and it's proprietary memory cards (used to help fend off piracy) managed to find a way to make back ups work and to slow down piracy. I have faith Nintendo could have done that. And am not thrilled about it?

    On the flip side, I only used that function when prepping to hack my vita.... So.... Probably not so excellent.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #24 VotesForCows 3 months ago
    @NiceGuyNeon yeah I pretty much agree with you. Locking off manual data back ups is part of a long line in consumer disempowerment that I first noticed with Windows 95 ☺ But it still sucks
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  • Avatar for SIGGYZtar #25 SIGGYZtar 3 months ago
    @0xDEADBEEF Doesn't really matter now considering it's already reported that the Nintendo Switch has a hardware based vulnerability that can't be patched with conventional means. If people are going to hack their systems, most are going to do it for the offline saves.
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  • Avatar for richarrj #26 richarrj 3 months ago
    Jesus, you guys (people bitching about this non-issue) wouldn't have made it through the 80's and early 90's. I know, technology has changed, but that doesn't mean complacency is cool.Edited May 2018 by richarrj
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  • Avatar for gsekai #27 gsekai 3 months ago
    this good and bad news
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #28 Roto13 3 months ago
    @docexe It's not "stupidly paranoid" if it happens with every console they release.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #29 Gamer-Law 3 months ago
    @LunarFlame17 - Exactly right. Most people spend more than $20 on two or three weeks worth of coffee purchases. To somehow claim that Nintendo is harming them by keeping cloud saves behind that miniscule paywall is ridiculous. My rationale comes down to the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Cloud server space is not free. If Nintendo elects to charge this nominal fee in order to save your games, it is money well spent. Save the rage for more important matters.
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  • Avatar for docexe #30 docexe 3 months ago
    @Roto13 I suppose I should have used "overzealous" rather than "paranoid". Ultimately, my point is that they are taking a draconian measure to prevent hacking and piracy at the expense of their customers by not allowing manual save back-ups. Those kind of draconian measures ultimately never work and only generate ill will, as hackers will just look for other methods and the only ones screwed will be the customers who lose their save files.
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  • Avatar for Folkenhellfang #31 Folkenhellfang 3 months ago
    This seems like human nature at its... lamest?

    So now we want to hold Nintendo accountable for some sort of digital equality?

    These are the same people who just propelled EA to a record year of revenue dominated by digital purchases. That is certainly not all games.

    You had zero options before, now you have an option. That sounds like an improvement to me. Yes, it sucks that they are going to charge for online. It's very easy to argue that fact is on us, the gamers. We made it ok in previous and current generations, at this point Nintendo would be stupid to leave money on the table.

    I think the Nintendo Online strategy is pretty great so far. $35.00 for me and my 3 kids on 3 Switches sounds amazing. I hate paying for the online. I hate throwing that game away every year on PlayStation. I am not thrilled to pay on Nintendo, but I feel like they are meeting me half way.

    Look at it this way, you got your cloud saves. Keep talking, you'll get your SD card saves someday. But give the crusade a rest. You buy loot boxes and boosters all day long.
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #32 LunarFlame17 3 months ago
    @Folkenhellfang The way I look at it, I’m paying $20 a year for a library of 20 NES games that’s supposedly will get larger over time. Online play and cloud saves are just icing on the cake.
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  • Avatar for danielnavarro10 #33 danielnavarro10 3 months ago
    @Folkenhellfang I couldn’t agree more. You know what’s the worst part about this? Peaple are complaining about how in other systems backing up data is free, however you are forgetting that when PS4 and Xbox one first launched they didn’t even support external hard drives or flash drives the same way the Nintendo Switch will not allow you to save to an SD card. Is this a great solution? No but it has never been a great solution on any system. Let’s not forget that you needed proprietary memory cards since the PS1 and not needing a memory card to have a back up was not a thing until the PS3 and half way into the Xbox 360s life.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #34 pdubb 3 months ago
    @richarrj not entirely the same. In the 90s if my copy of FF6 crapped the bed, I didn't also lose my save data for Trigger, Ogre Battle, and every other RPG I had ever played on the system.

    And that's the problem. If you play games to completion or for the post game challenges then you are taking a huge chance by not paying up for save data protection.

    If you have small kids or share a system this is pretty much Russian roulette
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  • Avatar for riot-50 #35 riot-50 3 months ago
    All ya'll defending a multi-million dollar corporation making an anti-consumer move (regardless of the degree of egregiousness) are part of the problem.

    This whole thing that comes up every time someone doesn't like the cost of something in games, 'If you can't afford $20 then you shouldn't be playing a Switch' bullshit has got to go. 20 bucks CAN be a lot of money to some people. But I guess you're right, poor people don't deserve video games.

    Not to mention, personally, even though I can afford the $20, I'd rather it be spent on more games.

    Also: kids. Apparently none of you ever had to try to explain to your mom why you needed a new memory card in addition to your new game I guess. Plus who breaks systems the most and in turn will be most likely to need the save backups? You guessed it. Kids.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #36 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 months ago
    @richarrj I honestly can't tell which side you're for here.

    Suffice to say, I made it through the 90's AND the 80's, and things have come a long way since then -- completing Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild are on an entirely different scale than completing Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda on the NES.

    For me, losing Super Mario Odyssey data wouldn't be as problematic as something more personal-- your Animal Crossings, your Tomodachi Lifes, your nintendogs, maybe even BotW to some degree.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #37 TheWildCard 3 months ago
    Put me in the "paying for cloud saving would be fine except it being the only way to back up saves is lame" camp. No it's not that much per year, but over the lifetime of a console it adds up. As someone who would have a hard time justifying the value paying for online for only a few games, this extra layer feels lame.
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  • Avatar for ericspratling56 #38 ericspratling56 3 months ago
    You willingly paid market price for a console you KNEW didn't have online save backups. A year+ later, that console is offering save backups but only as a bundled service with an extremely reasonable price tag. And this makes you... angry?

    Hey, I'm all for being disappointed and/or for advocating what seems to be a good practice. But being outraged about it, as if you are somehow getting "screwed over" by this action... well, grow up.

    Then again, this sort of thing is human nature; definitely nothing new. It's the subject of one of Jesus' better parables: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Workers_in_the_Vineyard
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  • Avatar for richarrj #39 richarrj 3 months ago
    @pdubb Good point. I actually didn't think of it in terms of losing console vs losing cartridge. But I think I'm still OK with being charged for backups because of the change in gaming's technological environment. We had cartridges back in the gap that could be written to. The discs are damn near obsolete with DLs, which I kind of like, but we can't always expect everything for free was the point I was getting at with the complacency comment@LBD_Nytetrayn. So I guess you could say I'm on the side of not complaining about the new nature of things as they are. If the tech of the times dictates my data is safer stored on another entity's server, then surely I should pitch in.Edited May 2018 by richarrj
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  • Avatar for Attac-Mage #40 Attac-Mage 3 months ago
    Even if the cloud saves are blocked by a paywall, you're not even going to get to play the online games without paying for this. I could understand a subscription that gives bonuses, but blocking the online play and saves is a problem.
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