The first paid online service for Nintendo Switch, simply named Nintendo Switch Online, is set to arrive at some point later this month, and we’re still waiting on a few key details. One detail about the service emerged on Friday via Nintendo’s official site, and it’s not a great one: there will be specific limits to the service’s promised cloud-save support.
Nintendo Switch Online’s $ 20/year cost includes a promise to “save your data online for easy access”—which, for the uninitiated, will be the only way to back up your Switch games’ save data when it launches. Currently, should your Nintendo Switch be lost, stolen, or damaged, your progress in games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is toast, as you cannot personally back save data up to a hard drive. (Full system backups can be transferred from one console to another, but not if the host system is too damaged to power on.)
An eagle-eyed member of the ResetERA gaming community noticed on Friday that Splatoon 2‘s newest listing at Nintendo’s official site, for its upcoming “starter pack” version, includes a new piece of warning text: “This game does not support Save Data Cloud backup.” It’s unclear exactly when this text was posted, but a quick Internet search for that exact phrase, limited solely to the nintendo.com domain, brings up the same warning for the following current and upcoming Switch games:
- Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu
- Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee
- Dark Souls Remastered
- Dead Cells
- FIFA 19
- NBA 2K19
- NBA Playgrounds
This discovery confirms the bad news that Nintendo hinted to back in May: that “most games” will work with the paid service’s cloud-save feature, which was a nice way of saying that some would not.
Determining a common factor from those games is difficult, especially since a few of them aren’t out yet. If online connectivity is a factor, that doesn’t necessarily explain Dead Cells‘ issue, since that indie game’s sole online option is a “daily challenge” random-level download. These games also run the gamut of rendering engines, including popular engines like Unreal and smaller-fry options like Dead Cells‘ fork of Heaps.
Either way, the online-centric action of Splatoon 2 seems like a strange omission for cloud-save support, in terms of working alongside Nintendo’s own Splatoon 2 gameplay servers.
[Update, 10:25 p.m. ET: In a statement to Ars Technica, Nintendo of America offered an explanation for why some Switch games won’t support Switch Online’s cloud-save feature: “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.” The company added a specific answer to why its own Splatoon 2 would skip the feature: “to ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings.” This statement does not clarify why other first-party games with online leaderboards and rankings, particularly Arms, are somehow immune to this issue.
The company did not respond to our request for a complete list of affected games as of press time.]
We’ve reached out to devs of the listed games in hopes of turning up more information and will update this report should we get a clear answer.
Nintendo was set to host one of its “Nintendo Direct” videos this week, which may have revealed more about the paid Switch Online service. However, that video was delayed in light of a major earthquake that hit Japan this week. The video presentation has yet to be rescheduled.
This article has been updated to clarify how system backups work, and when Nintendo had previously confirmed cloud-save information about its upcoming service.