When Nintendo Switch Online launched last week, subscribers gained the ability to finally back up their save files. One question remained, though: what would happen if the subscription lapsed? Nintendo’s original support page FAQ was vague on the matter, but today the company confirmed they’ll last for six months.
For £3.49 a month or £18 a year, Nintendo will let you back up your Switch saves in the cloud via Switch Online. The programme finally rolled out last week and as a result, anyone who’s subscribed has finally been able to heave a sigh of relief knowing that if their console breaks it won’t be the end of their 100 plus hour Breath of the Wild journey. Nintendo’s website said of saves: “We are unable to guarantee that cloud save data will be retained after an extended period of time from when your membership is ended.” Players were understandably confused about what this meant and worried it meant any lapse in membership might destroy their backups.
Nintendo clarified exactly that in a recent statement to IGN. “If a Nintendo Switch Online membership expires, users won’t be able to access their Save Data Cloud backups,” a spokesperson for the company said. “However, Nintendo will allow users who resubscribe within 180 days to access their previous Save Data Cloud backups.”
This puts the feature in line with Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service, which similarly retains users save data in the cloud for six months after expiration. (No subscription is required for cloud saves on Xbox One.)
Cloud saves have been a point of contention ever since the Switch launched. The system saves data locally and doesn’t let you copy those files to an SD card to safeguard them. Many owners were already frustrated that Nintendo’s workaround would require shelling out extra money, doubly so when the company made it seem as if cloud saves would instantly disappear as soon as a person’s Switch Online subscription ended. Six months isn’t bad. At the same time, it’s still Nintendo charging for a feature that other consoles either provide for free or make redundant by letting you copy data to external hard drives.
And of course, there are still a range of games that the cloud save feature doesn’t apply to, even with a subscription, including FIFA 19 and Splatoon 2.