Nintendo has proven, once again, that they don’t understand the internet.

Today, Reddit user “fishoa” reported on a small detail that you might have missed in Nintendo’s online policy.

As with most online services, Switch Online offers cloud storage for game saves. This useful feature lets players maintain their saves on multiple consoles. This is especially useful if your console becomes damaged, or you want to play your games on a friend’s console. It also provides players with additional storage space, and it’s absolutely vital for anyone who plays a lot of games.

But, in typical fashion, the company decided to slap on some bizarre limitations to this service. In short, once your subscription runs out, they’ll delete your cloud saves.

According to their FAQ:

Save data stored with Save Data Cloud cannot be kept outside of the duration of your Nintendo Switch Online membership. Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online also uses the Save Data Cloud, so the same applies. However, if you keep the Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online save data saved locally on your Nintendo Switch console, then you can use it again if you purchase another membership.

Nintendo
Give him the money or face the consequences. Image courtesy of Nintendo

Nintendo’s support site offers a slightly different explanation. In this version, Nintendo can’t “guarantee” that they’ll keep your cloud saves for an “extended period of time” after your subscription ends. This clarifies nothing. We’re still not sure how long — if at all — our storage will be retained.

For reference, Sony will restore your cloud storage when you renew your subscription. Microsoft offers cloud storage for free. This should be a non-issue. Yet, once again, Nintendo finds itself in this puzzling minority, where they insist on nickel and diming you for basic features.

A Pattern Of Incompetence With Nintendo

Nintendo has always been behind the times when it comes to online services. During the Wii U era, they didn’t even understand the basics of online features, or what their competitors were doing differently:

At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in [Nintendo’s] development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them?

Even if you ignore this latest revelation, we already knew the Switch would struggle with its online service. This is the same company that forces you to use your phone to talk with players online. Not only that, but plenty of basic features are restricted to Nintendo’s mobile app.

Nintendo
These decisions are inscrutable to me. Image courtesy of TED.com.

Some assume that the Switch’s hardware is incapable of providing proper online services. This could explain their reliance on a mobile app, but it makes me wonder why they didn’t prepare for this when they were developing the console. Others assume that, yet again, Nintendo is placing their obsession with peripheral hardware over basic efficiency. Forcing you to use a mobile app to talk to your friends almost makes sense if you accept their special brand of madness.

But none of this explains their policy on cloud storage. This goes beyond the endearing incompetence we’ve come to expect. Cloud storage provides extra space and extra security, ensuring that your games remain safe no matter what happens to your console. Nintendo must be aware of how valuable this service can be. Through this practice, they’re holding your saves for ransom.

Needless Online Check-Ins

While reading through their FAQ, we discovered some additional details you might have missed.

With Switch Online, you get access to a library of classic NES games. But if your switch is offline for more than 7 days, you can’t continue playing.

Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online can by played for up to seven days without an internet connection. If you are unable to launch Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, then please try connecting to the internet again.

I can understand the need for a subscription here. What I can’t understand is why you need to “check-in” online to keep your games.  This won’t inconvenience me personally, but it’s yet another example of Nintendo’s need to complicate everything.

The Point

The lesson you should take away from this is simple: Nintendo offers an inferior online service.

Granted, we all saw this coming. As much as I love Nintendo, and as much as they shocked me with the quality of the Switch, the company is still constrained by these bizarre decisions that fly in the face of everything consumers expect. Switch Online launches on September 18th, and it costs $20 per year. You should definitely keep these issues in mind if you plan on using Nintendo’s 7-day online trial. If you save anything to the cloud during that time, then prepare to lose it. Unless, of course, you immediately continue your subscription.

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