A Japanese lawyer’s discussion of whether having a save deleted by a friend can be grounds for legal action is currently doing the rounds online.
This writer asked whether it would be possible to either demand compensation, or compel the deleting party to play the game up to the same level as the deleted save and then hand over the new save data.
Lawyer Takeshi Onizawa gave his answer, which will surely be disappointing to anyone who happens to be in this distressing situation:
There is no legal basis for a compensation claim
Because the game itself is still playable, it is impossible to demand that the lendee cover the cost of replacing it. It may be possible to demand compensation, at market price, for the save data itself if the actual monetary value of the data can be determined; however, since it is rare to sell save data, it will probably be deemed to have no value.
When lending games, one must take self-defence measures, such as creating backups when possible.
If backups truly are the only defensive measure, owners of the Nintendo Switch may wish to avoid lending their consoles to anyone – everyone had better get to devising a backup routine.
Responses to the discussion from across the internet were varied, but all seemed to acknowledge the difficulties that can be caused by deleted data:
“Can’t you demand compensation for the time you spent making the save? Oh wait, if the data is gone, you can’t prove how much time you spent!”
“It’s bad enough if a friend does this, but what if a spouse did it? I wonder if it would lead to divorce?”
“I just won’t lend my games to anyone!”
“I don’t have any friends to lend games to anyway!”