Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, 2017. Today, exactly one year later, you’re still at risk of losing all your save data in the event of a hardware failure.
Can you name another game-playing device released in the past 25 years that didn’t offer some way to protect your data? Proprietary memory cards, game cartridges with built-in storage of their own, flash drives, SD cards, cloud storage — different machines do it in different ways, but the feature itself is a given. An expectation.
That philosophy gets chucked out the window with Switch. Nintendo has suggested the console’s hybrid nature is to blame. “It’s not as simple as a piece of hardware that never moves and is always connected in an online environment,” Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told us last year.
That seems reasonable, until you remember Nintendo’s current line of handheld gaming devices — 3DS and 2DS — let you dump all your save data for downloaded games (cartridges have built-in storage) onto an SD card.
It sucks to drag the Switch like this. Nintendo has done so much right with its latest console, both to correct the mistakes of the Wii U and to push the industry forward with hardware that encourages game developers to try out ideas that aren’t possible with other popular gaming hardware.
But this is also a machine that features games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that last for tens of hours, if not hundreds. The fact that one accidental drop, one theft, one inexplicable “hardware failure” could rob you of that time investment is inexcusable.
We’re here to keep Nintendo honest. The Switch is a triumph and we’ll happily cheer for its success with all of our fellow fans. But Nintendo really needs to act to make sure conversations like these stop happening on a weekly basis.