Enough is enough?
I’ve been covering the Switch eShop for a long time. A long time.
I remember when it was in its infancy, struggling for relevance with games like Vroom in the Night Sky. Or when it started to finally gain momentum with hidden gems. Or when a Nintendo executive said that he wanted “30-40 games” to hit the eShop a week, without actually updating any curation tools or enhancing quality control.
A lot of eShop users are fed up with the massive amount of shovelware on the storefront, and as it turns out: developers are too.
Speaking to MCV, multiple studios have said enough is enough, and have come out against the current state of the eShop. No More Robots’ Mike Rose is frankly sick of it, and sheds light on why so many developers are deeply discounting their games in the hope of making it big: “If you’ve ever wondered why there are just reams and reams of 80-90 per cent off titles on Switch – including at their bloody launches – it’s because the store is ranked by units, not revenue.”
He elaborates: “The top charts are the games with the most downloads in the last two weeks. So in other words, if you put your game on 90 per cent off, and as a result, inevitably get a ton of downloads, you shoot up the charts. Then once you’re at the top of the charts, you automatically get a ton of extra sales due to being at the top of the charts.”
Joseph Humfrey, who co-founded the studio Inkle, feels similarly, stating, “In terms of organic discoverability, the main problem with the eShop is that it’s simply too basic. There’s such a small number of pages where you can be featured, that it massively limits the breadth of potential discovery.”
Rose continues though in what might be an ill portent for the future of the eShop: “The way it’s going now, I reckon in around a year’s time, the eShop is going to look like the App Store – tons of cheap-looking titles that were clearly thrown together in the space of a few months, all selling at a dollar each. And everyone trying to make an honest living on Switch, won’t be able to anymore. I can’t imagine how else it’s going to go.”
Humfrey wants to “merge the news and eShop app” into one thing so people are more aware of what’s actually coming out. He also adds that despite the fact that Nintendo is “invested in curation” with things like the Nindies Showcase and the like, the eShop team and that team are so disconnected that when it comes time to actually buy a game and keep a developer in business; the eShop fails them.
It might sound alarmist because the Switch is doing so well, but it’s important to at least take their advice into account: especially if they’re saying a lot of the same things many developers have said for the last several years. Something has to change about the way the Switch eShop is ran. It’s become far too bloated with shovelware and it’s nearly impossible to find anything: if I feel that way as a user, something has to give.