The status of save files on the Nintendo Switch has been a concern for users since the console launched in March, and Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aimé says it’s a concern the company is working on.
Fils-Aimé, the president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, told Mashable at E3 that Nintendo has heard the outcry about this issue. However, said Fils-Aimé, Nintendo isn’t yet ready to announce any solutions because it’s still figuring things out.
As it stands, Switch owners have two options: They can either save directly to the system’s internal storage — although there’s not much room — or to an SD card. The problem is that there’s no way to back up save files; the Switch does not allow users to copy save games to external media, and it doesn’t offer cloud-based backup like the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One do.
Simply put, if something were to happen to your Switch — if it were lost or stolen, or if it died — you’d lose the hours you’ve put into games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
At the end of March, a disappointed Switch owner posted this photo on Twitter confirming that Nintendo had wiped all of his data — including his Breath of the Wild progress — after he had sent it to the company. Nintendo offered little explanation for the wipe, beyond needing to do so for repair, and no apology.
.@NintendoAmerica sent back ny Switch. With this letter explaining, yes, we wiped all your Zelda data. No apology. No TV output on set up. pic.twitter.com/cK3cCRMa5l— Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello) March 29, 2017
While there have been instances where Nintendo was able to save the game data during a repair, the issue remains that there isn’t any way for users themselves to transfer or back up save files.
Fils-Aimé said that Nintendo is working on this problem.
“For a person who has 100 shrines, I understand the concern about losing all your data,” Fils-Aimé told Mashable. “It’s everything from not only how is it going to work but it’s also how we do this in a way that doesn’t lend itself to piracy or systems or our core software infrastructure that can be modded or hacked.”
As it stands, Nintendo does not have a course of action for this yet, so it may be some time before an alternate option is introduced to Switch owners. Fils-Aimé hinted that when the company does introduce new options for saving game files, it could come at a cost to the customer.
“It really is about thinking through how to do this in a way that makes good business sense but also is something that the consumer is really going to be excited about,” Fils-Aimé said.
In other words, Nintendo could implement cloud-based backup for the console but lock it behind a paywall. (The Xbox One backs up all save data to the cloud; the PlayStation 4 offers cloud saves only to PlayStation Plus subscribers, but allows users to copy save games to USB storage.) Nintendo Switch Online is currently scheduled to launch in 2018, and will cost $19.99 per year.