Bad News for Switch Fans: Your Game Data Isn't Safe

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Bad News for Switch Fans: Your Game Data Isn't Safe

A new report emerged recently to suggest potential bad news ahead for fans of the Nintendo Switch. While there were plenty of reasons to like the Nintendo Switch, there was one significant problem that emerged: there's no way to save game data outside of the system itself.

No backup is possible with the Switch, at last report, and that means that if something goes wrong with the system, any save data that was kept on said system is likewise shot. Word from GamesRadar's Anthony John Agnello spelled out the situation following a disaster situation when, for reasons unknown and wholly unclear, Agnello's system had a critical system failure. Agnello, taking advantage of the system's warranty, sent the system to Nintendo for repair, and got disastrous news in response.

Nintendo notified Agnello that "the issue has made some fo the information on this system unreadable." With that grim pronouncement, Agnello lost save data, settings, and links established with Nintendo Accounts. The games already downloaded were readily redownloadable, but the save data--and 55 hours of progress in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was gone.

This is actually something of a disaster, not just for Agnello and those like him, but for Nintendo. Most of the current console generation engages in backup of some kind; I personally have a multi-terabyte drive hooked to my Xbox One. Even older Nintendo systems don't have this problem; between battery-backed cartridges with an expected battery life of about 70 years, or certain USB devices like the Retrode, or even memory cards, the notion of external, non-system-based storage isn't a new one, and one Nintendo probably should have included.

Some might say that Nintendo cut out the online backup, or even other physical backup, for security's sake; both the Wii and the 3DS had been previously hackable, allowing unsigned code to run on the system. If there's no outside input, Nintendo might have reasoned, such an issue can't be a problem. That's sort of like killing termites by burning down the garage; it works, but it causes certain other problems to go with it.

This isn't the kind of problem Nintendo needs right now; letting its customers know that their save data is basically an all or nothing shot is just the kind of thing that might torpedo future sales. Not many will likely enjoy the game of Russian data roulette that will be played every time the system starts up; "Is today the day every save game on my system vanishes?" isn't a question you want customers asking.

Still, without a fairly substantial overhaul--or at least access to some kind of cloud system--there's not much Nintendo can do to fix this. So for now, it's just one more trouble in a long string of same for Big N.

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