Last Friday, posters on the gaming forum ResetEra discovered that the Nintendo website information page for Splatoon 2 had been updated with a note saying the game does not support cloud save backups, one of the big new features being added to the Switch when its paid online service launches later this month.
It’s to prevent cheating, Nintendo said.
It’s not the only major game that won’t support the much-requested feature. Dark Souls: Remastered won’t support it either when it releases in October. Nor will FIFA 19 when it arrives in a couple weeks. The things all of these games have in common is that they all have significant online components, and Nintendo said that fears that save backups could be used to exploit the games were behind the decision.
“The vast majority of Nintendo Switch games will support Save Data Cloud backup,” Nintendo said in an emailed statement to Kotaku. “However, 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. To ensure fair play, Save Data Cloud backup may not be enabled for such games.”
“To ensure that Save Data Cloud backups cannot be used to unfairly affect online multiplayer rankings, the feature will not be enabled in Splatoon 2,” it said.
In other words, Splatoon 2 players who have invested hundreds of hours unlocking stuff in the game and building up their match history should be extra careful with their Switch, because if something happens to it, they’re out of luck. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed yet whether Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will support save backups when it comes out in December, but the above statement isn’t very reassuring.
It also shows a shortcoming of the Switch when it comes to addressing an issue that every other major console solved several years ago. The whole reason cloud saves were such a big deal was because the Switch doesn’t allow users to back up their data in any other way.
You can’t copy your saves to an SD card, for example, a fact that has even caused some hackers to take matters into their own hands and try to come up with workarounds.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in addition to allowing cloud saves for online games, also make it easy to copy the data to external devices. The fact that in 2018 Nintendo is still struggling with this problem is disappointing and yet, given the company’s spotty track record with online infrastructure (to say nothing of basic offline features like the ability to copy files), not totally surprising.