Every week, a ton of games come out for the Nintendo Switch. While it’s great to have so many options to choose from, sorting through these titles on the digital storefront really sucks. It’s hard to find what you want, or what you should be interested in.
Discoverability is a tough issue that seemingly nobody running an online gaming store has managed to crack. The Switch is the youngest console on the block with the fewest games in its store, so it took a while for the problem to actually surface. Now that the relatively slim pickings of the launch period are long gone, I officially can’t keep up with the number of games coming out every week for the system. As of right now, there are 624 items on the store. This means that if I’m in the mood for a new game, I have to wade through the eShop. It’s not exactly easy to spot the games I’d be interested in.
The eshop offers just three major sections: “Recent Releases,” “Games On Sale,” and “Best Sellers.”
Best Sellers is not a terrible option, as it gives you a sense of what other people like to play. Usually, anything on the Best Sellers list is worth your time or money. In my time checking out the Best Sellers, though, I’ve noticed that it usually features a small list of the same games. You’re probably not going to find hidden gems or games beyond high profile releases on the Best Sellers list. It’s not like Steam, where on any given day one of the top-selling games might be something you’ve never heard about along with the usual suspects.
Games On Sale? The Switch is too new to really have worthwhile sales yet. Many big games are made by Nintendo, too, and Nintendo is notorious for not lowering prices. Most of what you’ll find under this tab, you won’t want.
This leaves us with Recent Releases. The section seems to update whenever there are new games. The first games you see under this menu are the newest things available, and while that makes sense, it’s also a drag to scroll through such an enormous list that only gets bigger with each passing week. Sometimes it feels like you’re wading through a bunch of garbage you’ve never heard of before. Other times, you might be curious about a game but the shop itself does a poor job of communicating if a title is worthwhile. Sure, there are screenshots, descriptions, and sometimes even video, but this isn’t enough. Without some semblance of curation, user ratings, or reviews, the Switch gives me little reason to take a chance on the small indie game that looks kinda interesting.
You can of course run a general search as well, which gives you more specific options, like searching for games in a certain genre, or only looking up games with demos. This is useful to a point, especially if you already know exactly what you want.
I wish the Switch did more to tell me if I’d like a game or not. Which games do my friends recommend? Which games are people raving about—and how? Which games should I be looking at? Which games might be up my alley given the preferences I’ve expressed before? If I liked this game, what else might I like?
All the other gaming platforms—Steam, PS4, Xbox One—at least attempt to answer some of these questions through a variety of features and menu options. The Switch just plops a pile of games in front of you and asks you to figure it out yourself.
Now that every single game on Earth is being ported to the Switch, Nintendo needs to overhaul how the eShop looks and functions. At the very least, they are aware there is an issue—in an interview earlier this year, Damon Baker, Nintendo’s senior manager of publisher and developer relations, told Kotaku that the developer wanted to “find ways to improve visibility and discoverability both on device and off-device.” We also saw Nintendo briefly test user reviews on the Switch. Here’s hoping the eventual eShop revamp won’t keep us waiting for too long.