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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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