The Nintendo Switch is my favorite video game console of all time and I don’t regret the money that I invested in it. But even I have to admit that it is far from being perfect. A lot has been said about the various faults of Nintendo Switch – that it doesn’t have apps for media, that it’s not as powerful as the other current gen consoles, that it has subpar battery life, and so on. But there is one flaw that is currently becoming a big problem for Switch owners: there is no way to back up your save data.
Why is it important to be able to have back ups of your save data? People who are serious video gamers would already know why, but let me explain it to those who don’t. Essentially, when you are into video games, you invest two resources into the hobby: money (to buy the games and the gadgets) and time. We spend our time on video games to make our characters stronger, to obtain rare and powerful equipment, to earn different achievements, and to unlock certain features and bonuses. Losing one’s save data means losing all progress that we’ve made in a game and in turn means wasting all the time that we invested on it, which to a gamer is quite devastating (I gave up on the GameBoy Advance after learning that most of the cartridges being sold in my country back then were knock-offs with poor battery backups).
Not having the option to back up your saves actually held me back from purchasing the Switch and if I wasn’t going on an out-of-country trip, I probably would have waited longer. From experience, Nintendo products are very durable, but accidents can happen – my Switch could get accidentally soaked in water, dropped from a height, get stepped on, and so on. To be frank, I’m not that worried yet – I’m still working on my 3DS backlog so I haven’t really made progress on the Switch games that I currently own.
What makes the lack of a back up option for save data a big problem in recent times is another issue that seems to have gotten worse with a recent Switch OS update – after users updated to the 5.0 OS version, reports of the Switch getting bricked have (from my perception) increased. Now this isn’t a new issue as there have been reported instances of bricked Switch devices especially when used with the Nyko portable Switch dock before, but it just feels like there have been more reports of bricked Switch consoles since the latest update was released.
What makes this even worse is there have been reports also connecting bricked Switch consoles with the use of third party charging devices. Now, I can understand why some Switch owners would use third party docks – Nyko’s Switch dock in particular is much smaller and less expensive than Nintendo’s official dock, making Nyko’s dock a better option for travelling or as additional docks for those with multiple TVs in their household. But third party charging devices are pretty much required accessories for anyone who wants to use their Switch on the go. The official Switch charger that comes in the box is simply too bulky. And power banks, aside from being more portable, would allow us to charge the Nintendo Switch without the use of a power outlet. PSA: People have been saying that using a USB-A to USB-C cable is safe for charging your Nintendo Switch. Personally, I haven’t tried it since the 5.0 update and I’d avoid needing to do so as much as I can.
The bricking issue, in my opinion, is not the biggest problem. Both Nintendo (in-warranty) and Nyko offer replacements for malfunctioning Switch units if you’re willing to go through the effort (not easy if you’re living in an unsupported country like myself). And so I take you back to what I think is truly the bigger problem here. Devices can break for many different reasons – the bricking issue is just one possible cause. Losing all progress when this happens is what truly makes this a problem, and as I mentioned above, losing your save data can be devastating to a gamer – I wouldn’t want to be the guy who spent 200 or more hours on Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, or Super Mario Odyssey, only to end up losing all progress. That is simply heart-breaking. If this happened to me, I might end up dropping the Switch and going back to the 3DS, until the time when a way to back up save data is available.
What I don’t understand is why Nintendo hasn’t made this option available now. Is it because they underestimated how important this feature is to us?
I don’t think a back up feature is that hard to implement, even with piracy in mind. Now I’m not an expert in video game software development so I could be wrong, but in my mind this is all that’s needed: (1) put in code that would export the save data in an encrypted file that’s locked to a specific Nintendo Switch profile and (2) allow that encrypted file to be copied to/from an SD card. There’s no need for cloud saves, and being tied to one profile would prevent users from copying each other’s game saves (if Nintendo has issues with this). Since the encrypted file would only have save data, there shouldn’t be any issues that would involve piracy. And in today’s digital world, I think gamers wouldn’t mind having to re-download game updates, any purchased DLC, or even entire game downloads as well. This sounds simple, right? I certainly think that it is.
But no, we do not have this ability yet. And more than the lack of Nintendo’s online service, more than the lack of media streaming apps, more than the lack of browsing capabilities, Nintendo needs to address this issue as soon as they can. Despite loving the Nintendo Switch so much, I wouldn’t recommend buying one to anyone right now until this issue is resolved. I am really hoping that a solution will be in place once I fully commit to the Switch – thank goodness for my 3DS backlog!
What do you think about the problem of not being able to back up your save data? Am I making it a bigger problem than it actually is or do you agree that this needs to be treated with more urgency? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment or two below!