Nintendo Switch has just turned four. But while the console’s continued popularity is something to celebrate, the Switch has a desperate aspect of the Switch that is common to all gamers and needs improvement. Of course I’m talking about eShop.
Switch eShop is the gateway to the world of great, diverse and exciting games currently available on Switch hardware. While the console did not have the full power of a PS5 or Xbox Series X, it still became a home for AAA and likewise standalone games (even if the former often took a blow to the graphics quality).
However, finding the Switch games you really want to play is much more difficult than it should be, and it turns the awe-inspiring act of exploration into a constant task. And while it’s possible to purchase games online via a phone or laptop, it’s hard to avoid this problematic portal while playing with some spontaneity on the go.
Many Switch games are also available with digital downloads only, and physical cartridges are not a great idea for those trying to reduce the footprint of their purchases or access new games at the point they order.
So what’s so broken about the Nintendo Switch eShop and how can Nintendo fix it? Here is our comprehensive list of complaints.
Slow loading speeds and poor navigation
The step-by-step experience of using eShop is a challenge. Each menu takes two to three seconds to load, and Mario’s 8-bit stuttering animation pitifully covers the cracks.
Sometimes the animation changes – it has been briefly replaced by a more modern ‘Mario cat’ animation – and the slightly more direct interaction with this than Nintendo to highlight the ‘games of the moment’ makes it, at least, more interesting to look at. . (If Twitter can Adopt customized emojis for major game and console versions, why can’t Nintendo do the same thing here?) But the main problem is the loading speed of the eShop that stuck like an early 2000s web page.
Slow speed would have been easier to accept if eShop didn’t have navigation issues. First, the wish list of your favorite games – added by clicking a small heart when browsing a particular game – is hidden in your account settings and can only be accessed by selecting your user icon in the top right corner of the eShop.
It is a very unreasonable place for a list of games that a player desires most, to encourage purchases and remind players what they have been interested in before.
However, eShop deals with wider selection criteria than individually selected games. You can search for games in a few, very limited ways: by entering a specific name of a game, looking through bestseller lists, browsing discounted games, browsing upcoming games, or browsing the ‘Discover’ tab for a mix of new and featured games.
Explore added mid 2018, in order to better showcase the titles not covered by the eShop via other overviews. It’s not curated to your own tastes and previous purchases though, and confusingly lists two separate titles as ‘Game of the Day’ and feels confused right from the start. Demos are sprinkled on this page instead of getting their own exclusive overviews as well, and the continued bulge of the Switch library with new games showed that Discover was a little better than plaster clinging to an exploding pipe, and countless titles fell through the cracks.
Manually entering game titles is often a sure-fire way to find things, and high-profile titles will pop up in the auto suggest feature, but its usefulness is limited. Writing “Holl” will suggest “Hollow Knight”, as well as “Hollywood” and “Holland”. Choosing this last option doesn’t come with any input, suggesting that Nintendo is using an external dataset as a reference point rather than the Switch games’ names.
The basic search functionality allows you to filter by genre, but this is not a completely pleasant experience. EShop’s vague predetermined categories are not overly helpful in spotting the games you would be interested in, as demonstrated by how widely these terms are used.
In the ‘action’ line you will find the action RPG Monster Hunter Rise along with the Minecraft sandbox game. In the line ‘Adventure’ you will find Greek mythology, roguelike Hades along with Minecraft. Side-scrolling Cuphead appears high on the ‘Shooter’ list, but not ‘Platformer’. The various titles repeat across genres, suggesting that each tag is tagged too loosely to be a little pointless. What is the meaning of a filter if a game comes out for each one?
Searching through any genre prioritizes the listing of free downloads over paid games – a strange decision for both a monetizing console maker and players who do not state that they are after free content (a ‘free games’ tab, for example ‘free’ on Amazon Prime Video. menu will be a blessing here). There’s a breakdown of ‘Content Types’ broken down into software (you know, all games) and Downloadable Content – as if you were looking for DLC for a game you haven’t purchased yet.
And besides the sales chart, there is no way to research the long-term popularity of titles that surpass current popular sellers or to be introduced to quality titles that may suit your interests based on the games you’ve previously purchased, played or played. physically inserted with the cartridge.
Learn from the past
The stupidest thing about the Nintendo Switch eShop is that you can’t learn from your purchases – and while it’s complicated to put together a good algorithm like the one used by Netflix, it could even be a basic assessment of the normal price, type, or duplicate publisher / franchise. Choosing it will be a very useful starting point. If I dipped 40+ hours into Hollow Knight, I want the eShop to show me when Silksong is available for pre-order. If I haven’t gotten Breath of the Wild in a few months or years, I want the eShop to recommend the Hyrule Warriors before the BOTW 2 sequel. And such that.
In my personal experience, I have found that these content screens are only partially responsive when navigating with the touchscreen, which is a strange blind spot to Nintendo’s name. Sure, if we’re talking about login issues, the ongoing reports of Joy-Con drift are much more alarming, but it’s disappointing to navigate through potential new games and see the screen stall without any warning. What is happening?
You also cannot take screenshots of the eShop, which is an interesting limitation and makes it a bit difficult to capture images for this piece. Third hit, Nintendo.
The way forward
Without a doubt, there are plenty of amazing Nintendo Switch games out there – when you can find them – and the wizardry of a handheld gaming machine that doubles as a home console makes most of these problems seem trivial in comparison.
But Nintendo has an impact on the game market and is driving millions of consoles sales, and it’s time for the eShop software to get the same attention and innovative thinking that brought the Switch to the first place. The Epic Games Store launched in late 2018, well after the eShop, and can run temporary content categories like BAFTA award-winning games at certain times of the year – so where is this dynamic curation of Switch?
As it is, it’s not always easy to find the perfect Switch games out there, and that’s something that impresses gamers and developers alike.
With rumors of a Nintendo Switch 2 iteration making rounds, it could be that Nintendo uses a new console launch as an opportunity to overhaul the game market, making it a sleeker, faster, and smarter version than it is now. Until then, you will see that I purchased Switch games from my laptop instead.