Like a lot of people, I can’t wait for Valve to be able to get around my Steam Deck booking. With the clock ticking in the back of my head, I realized the major flaw of the Nintendo Switch: cross-save support. Aside from graphics, battery life, or even comically large size, Steam Deck succeeds in an area where the Nintendo Switch isn’t often used in all caps.
And I’m sure I’ll say that even before the Steam Deck pre-order arrives.
My Steam Deck hasn’t arrived yet, but I had a short chance to get to grips with the system and have a look at it on my last trip (thanks Giovanni). I’ve also seen how it performed via a bunch of tests, talked to several system owners, and did enough research that Google automatically completes the Steam Deck before I get the first few letters. I know how the system feels and how it behaves and behaves, despite the fact that my system has not yet appeared.
All this is not important. The most important thing about Steam Deck is that I can carry my progress with me. Mobile devices have been and will forever be platforms for compromise, so while it’s good to look at the standards and talk about ergonomics, the fact remains that mobile games are rarely the preferred way to play. It’s a situational game, where you are willing to compromise just to keep playing.
Using my Switch, I find myself facing the same problem over and over again. I gear up for a trip, browse the eShop for deals, and pick out some long-running RPGs to catch my eye. However, I don’t end up making much progress, because I’m well aware that when I get back to my computer, I’m just going to play on that.
There are problems with the Switch, but none of them bother me. The graphics, frame rate, and controls of the Joy-Con – none of them matter because I’m willing to compromise on portability. What matters is starting from scratch, which is something Steam Deck doesn’t make you do.
Accidental save failed
The switch could have ended Steam Deck before Valve made the first announcement. But Nintendo has never really tapped into one of the best features developers have been pushing for: cross-save. There is a good list of Nintendo Switch games that support cross saves, and they have been the backbone of my experience with the handheld device.
Outside of Switch-exclusive games, I mainly play games that allow me to bring my progress back to my PC: Hades, The Witcher 3, original divine sin 2, even Civilization VI (Problematic such port). There is also a gallery of rogues for live service titles with cross progression on Switch, such as Rocket League And It is an electronic game.
Nintendo hasn’t recognized the rising tide, nor has it put any systems in place to make PC-Switch cross-save operations easier. If I can transfer a file Dragon Quest XI or Ni No Kuni Save as you can Phoenix Immortals Rising, I might not have pre-ordered Steam Deck. Or, at least, I wasn’t excited about it.
I don’t want to underestimate the effort required to run blanket saves, but it’s clear that Nintendo never made that effort. Transfer progress is very important given the flooding of ports and the reissue of the converter in its later years.
The Switch isn’t a failure by any measure, but Nintendo could have given the system a lot more legs off the release with broader support for cross-save. Steam Deck solves this problem for gamers like me who don’t mind compromising performance if it means picking up where they left off.