Skip to main content

Animal Crossing: New Horizons' save transfer option isn't getting any less confusing

Recovery after lost or damaged Switch possible one time only.

During a Q&A section in today's Animal Crossing Direct, Nintendo again attempted to clear up the confusion surrounding your inability to transfer the game's save files from one Switch to another.

In short, you still can't. As in other Animal Crossing games, individual consoles host a single, shared settlement - a place which contains the houses of all local players. Likely because of this, New Horizons is one of several Switch games which do not support the Switch Online subscription's Cloud Backup option.

But what about if you upgrade your Switch to a shiny new model? What if your Switch is stolen and needs to be replaced?

Nintendo has now said there will be a way to recover your save file on another Switch - to be added in an forthcoming update post-release - but it will only offer the service "in the case of a defective or lost console". And it will only do this "one time".

Watch on YouTube

"Animal Crossing: New Horizons does not support the Save Data Cloud [Backup] feature," Nintendo said in today's Direct. "However, we're planning to offer a service for recovering backed up save data from the server in certain circumstances, such as console damage or loss."

Tiny small print on the US version of the Direct (not present in the UK version) here clarifies: "Nintendo Switch Online members can only have save data recovered one time due to loss or damage of system."

How exactly this works, Nintendo did not specify. But the ability to only do this wholesale - all of the user profiles attached to one Switch unit - seems likely tied to how the series handles its towns as shared living spaces.

'Nintendo Switch Online members can only have save data recovered one time due to loss or damage of system.'

To be fair to Nintendo, the number of people likely to lose or permanently smash up their Switch will only be a tiny proportion of those who play the game.

But it begs the question - if Nintendo can do this, if it does have your save data backed up somewhere, why not offer Cloud Backup in general? Why is this not supported if you are simply upgrading your Switch to a shinier new model?

Martin recently played the first hour of Animal Crossing: New Horizons - click through to see what he thought of the streamlined, more structured take on Nintendo's life-sim.

Read this next