You’ll want to make sure you never let your Nintendo Switch Online subscription lapse if you make use of cloud save data. Failing to do so will result in your cloud saves being erased for good, and if this happens after you’ve lost access to the local save files, you’ll have to start over.
Nintendo Switch Online will become a paid subscription service on September 18, forcing Switch owners to pay $20 per year in order to access online multiplayer. One of the other benefits of having the service is access to cloud game saves, but if you forget to renew your subscription, you can kiss your save data goodbye.
The tidbit of very important information was revealed in the official Nintendo Switch Online FAQ page. If you don’t renew your membership before it expires, any save data you’ve stored in the cloud will be gone. This doesn’t apply to save data for the classic NES games offered through the service, as that save data is stored locally.
A few games will also not be eligible for save data backup. These include Splatoon 2, Pokémon: Let’s Go, and Dark Souls Remastered. Given how much time and energy has to be put into those particular games, it’ll likely cause a few subscribers to feel cheated if they didn’t read the fine print.
Though it seems reasonable to not allow players to access their data until they’ve renewed their subscription, deleting it completely seems especially harsh. The free games given out through PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are inaccessible once a subscription lapses, but anything you’ve claimed can be played again once you’ve renewed it.
Nintendo joins Sony in requiring users to pay for a subscription service in order to access cloud save backup. The feature is included for free on Xbox One. At the very least, Nintendo Switch Online will automatically back up your save data up — this isn’t the case with PlayStation Plus, which requires you to either put your system in “rest” mode or manually upload any save data you want backed up.
The save data choice isn’t the only weird thing Nintendo is doing with the service. During a Nintendo Direct on September 13, the company revealed special NES-style Switch controllers. They’ll ship in packs of two for $60, but they will only be available to paying subscribers, and you can only buy one set of them. Nintendo is taking the Sam’s Club approach to accessories, and we’re a little perplexed.