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Round Table: Let's Talk About a Year of the 3DS eShop

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Filling up those SD cards

This week we've celebrated one year of the 3DS eShop, with our own top ten eShop games and a retrospective on a year of the platform. To round off the week a few members of the team discuss the eShop's first year and consider the positives so far, and where it can improve.

Joining features editor Thomas Whitehead are downloads editor Corbie Dillard, along with U.S. reviewers/contributors Christopher Ingram and Ron DelVillano.

Thomas Whitehead: First up, please introduce yourself to our readers.

Corbie Dillard: I'm Corbie Dillard, aka the Corbster, downloads editor for Nintendo Life.

Christopher Ingram: What’s up guys? I’m Chris and I’m one of the U.S. reviewers here at Nintendo Life and over at Push Square.

Ron DelVillano: My name is Ron, and I’m a reviewer here at Nintendo Life.

Thomas: With the 3DS eShop turning one year old, let's go back to the very start. How big a deal was it that the store wasn't there on day one when 3DS was launched?

Chris: Wow, it’s really been that long already! 3DS did get off to a rough start and I do think that eShop would’ve helped out a bit at launch, but then again, eShop lacked a multitude of original titles when it released, so maybe it was better off that it didn’t.

Ron: I think that if the physical launch lineup was stronger, then the lack of eShop wouldn’t have been that bad. As it stands, it was a real disappointment when there weren’t downloadable games to flesh out the library right off the bat.

Corbie: I think it hurt a bit, especially as the launch titles were such a mixed bag. But you couldn't help but feel that Nintendo had really rushed the system out to retail, so it came as no real surprise when the eShop wasn't ready to go out of the gate.

Thomas: When it did arrive, what was your first impression when you updated the system and fired it up for the first time?

Corbie: I was very excited. I've always loved the Nintendo download services and the prospect of getting some good old original Game Boy games and a mix of new stuff was very exciting for me, personally.

Chris: I was impressed. It worked without lag and had a nice visual flair to it. It has old-school games – what’s not to like?

Ron: I was pretty indifferent. It was there, but the amount and variety of games wasn’t overly extravagant.

Thomas: I actually thought it was quite 'swish' by Nintendo standards, though I was disappointed that it was one long row of icons, despite that.

Corbie: Yeah Nintendo has never been known for having a very "user friendly" interface when it comes to its download services. And the lack of demos for most games is another thing I've always not liked about its services. That being said, with the lull in game releases after launch, it was nice to have at least some game releases still rolling out on the eShop. And truth be told, there were some really great eShop releases early on.

Thomas: Let's talk about the early days. Would you agree that it was a case of having some fun Virtual Console games but not much in terms of new software in the first couple of months? Was that even an issue?

Ron: Absolutely. And as much as I love the classics, I like to see new downloadable games rather than the same old stuff.

Chris: Yeah, I think that's an accurate perception, but on the same token, it takes time to develop games and I’d rather wait a while for a better game than pay for something that’s halfway finished for the sake of having something to play.

Corbie: I’d agree, and the lack of new software was expected for my part. Having talked to so many eShop developers in the months leading up to the launch of the eShop, I knew it would be few and far between early on for original eShop releases. But thankfully there were a few really outstanding titles not far down the line that spiced things up quite nicely.

Thomas: Was eShop early, then, in terms of producing varied content? Had there been a lack of access to kits for developers?

Corbie: I'm not sure if it was that, or the fact that many of these games just took a bit longer to get completed and approved. It seemed to be a different reason for every developer at that time. I know many of them had kits for some time before the eShop launched, but given how rushed to retail the 3DS was, perhaps they just didn't have enough time to get it all done.

Thomas: Before we progress to the growth of the 3DS software library, let's touch on pricing. As always, some felt that some titles were over-priced. Where do you stand on that?

What so many people don't understand is that it costs many thousands of dollars to pay programmers, artists, sound engineers, level designers, and other staff members to create these games.

Corbie: A lot of that falls on the smartphone gaming market for somewhat de-valuing these games. What so many people don't understand is that it costs many thousands of dollars to pay programmers, artists, sound engineers, level designers, and other staff members to create these games. So you can't afford not to charge enough to cover these costs and you still need to make some profit if you hope to continue making games for these systems and services. So I think the prices we've seen are generally fair. I don't mind contributing money to an industry I love and that's how I look at it when I purchase these download titles.

Chris: I agree with Corbie, it cost a lot of money to develop games and I have no qualms with paying for the games I desire to play. I want developers to make money off their games so they can make more of them for me to enjoy in the future.

Ron: I think the prices have been pretty fair so far. I’m always down for paying less money on a game, but I don’t think that the asking prices have been too outlandish.

Thomas: I definitely agree that developers should charge sensible prices, rather than racing to the bottom. Some did argue about pricing of Virtual Console Game Boy games though, is that any different?

Corbie: Well that is a different story. I think you have to try to find a nice balance with those older retro titles and price them according to the amount of content you're getting. So far I haven't been too surprised at the prices of the older Game Boy titles, but there have been a couple that might have been a bit over-priced for what they offer.

Chris: Yeah, I have to say: I think the VC Game Boy games are a bit overpriced. Not by much, but a dollar or two shaved off the prices of them would guarantee I’d quickly fill up multiple memory cards.

Ron: Even with VC, I think the prices have been fair. I mean, if the game is short or very limited on content, then sure, it should be a little less expensive, but I think it’s been mostly fair.

Thomas: Moving on to the games library now, it seemed to start picking up steam in the fall period, with Nintendo contributing key titles of its own. In terms of new software, do you think there was a turning point for the platform?

Chris: Yeah, I definitely do. While this might be true for every platform, but once a few “must have” titles like, Pushmo and Might Switch Force landed on eShop, I found myself anxiously anticipating each week's update. With indie greats like VVVVVV and Mutant Mudds now on the platform too, if you’ve not checked out eShop and you’re a 3DS owner, you’re truly missing out.

Ron: As far as turning points go, I think it was really just when Nintendo started putting out its own games to download that weren’t VC games. It’s a sign of good faith for the eShop service.

Corbie: I think Mutant Mudds and Mighty Switch Force was the point where the eShop started really getting some high quality titles. We got to see some nice polish and impressive 3D depth, two things most 3DS owners were really looking for. But if there was one title that probably kicked things into high gear, it would have to be Pushmo/Pullblox. That was really the first game that seemed to get everyone excited, not just a selective group. And it was a very widely appealing type of game that offered an almost limitless amount of replay ability. Lots of bang for your buck, so to speak.

Thomas: It was Zen Pinball for me personally, but that was Europe only and not a huge seller. In terms of Pushmo, Nintendo even went so far as to mention that game, and eShop, in TV ads and marketing. Was that a surprising move, and a sign of Nintendo putting more into digital gaming?

Ron: I really hope so. It couldn’t hurt to push the downloads a little harder. There are some good games on the eShop, but I don’t think people really know about them.

Chris: I think it was needed. The Wii sold an outstanding number of units, but so few of them were connected to the internet and WiiWare suffered for it. Pushmo is an incredible title and it was the perfect starting point to really start pushing their new digital storefront. Good job Nintendo!

Corbie: I was thrilled when Nintendo finally put a little marketing muscle into an eShop title and that's something it needs to continue doing. It still shocks me just how many 3DS owners don't even know the eShop exists and that needs to change if Nintendo wants the service to have the type of success to bring more developers into the fold. The sales numbers for eShop titles, even really successful ones, still isn't anywhere near where it could be.

Thomas: The connection rate in North America, I believe, is 70%. Higher than Wii and DS, but still surprising that there are potentially millions of consoles that aren't online, ever.

Corbie: It is, and little things, just like Nintendo popping something into a TV spot or a magazine, can pay HUGE dividends in getting more 3DS owners connected and online with the systems. I think the push they're making with Wii U connectivity is yet another step in the right direction.

On page two we talk about the arrival of retail demos, discuss the biggest mis-steps and successes of the platform in its first year, and don our reviewer hats to give the eShop a year one score.

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User Comments (42)

Jamouse

#2

Jamouse said:

I'm really quite fond of the e-Shop. Like a lot of Nintendo's online efforts, it has quite a long way to go before being perfect, however, unlike the majority of them, the e-Shop actually seems promising since Nintendo is constantly updating it.
Also, Unchained Blades will make the e-Shop worthwhile.

Spoony_Tech

#3

Spoony_Tech said:

There is plenty of good stuff coming but I feel like its always just coming. Every week I can't wait for what's announced and end up disappointed. I don't really care as much about the vc unless its gba games. As for new 3d games they are just to far between for me to get excited about the service. I usually end up downloading a game I would normally not get just because of the lack of quality games. I have most of the 3d games but one every once in a while is not enough in my opinion.

I think Nintendo needs more demos of their games to be honest. Kid Icarus is the biggest offender. So many people are just not sure about the game and a demo could go a long way to get people excited about it. Add in both Mario games before Christmas. They should also have demos. How about Dillon's and sakura samurai. Those two need demos more then anything else on the shop but it seems like Nintendo can't be bothered by them. Funny how Nintendo is neglecting the demo service more then other companies!

hydeks

#5

hydeks said:

the 3ds eShop in NA was great at the beginning of this year, but at this point it's boring and really .., and is definately lacking the awesome greats earlier this year had. I agree, I think Nintendo should focus alot more on bringing VC games out, especially the weeks with like NO eShop games to download.

ajcismo

#6

ajcismo said:

I'd like to see more VC releases, in fact, all VC releases across a variety of platforms sorta like the Wii.
While I'm making wishes, I also want MS and Big N to work out a deal so N64 RARE games become available. I'll go throw a coin in a fountain later for that one.

Silvervisiona

#7

Silvervisiona said:

I would like it if the Wii U and 3DS eShops could share purchases through the same account, for suitable VC titles. I'll be twice as likely to buy if I know I can play my same purchased title on both the 3DS and Wii U. Please let me play my Ambassador titles on the TV!!

RR529

#8

RR529 said:

Overall, I've really enjoyed it. Whether it's getting a Nostalgia fix with Kirby's Dream Land & Kirby's Block Ball, playing classics for the first time (Mega Man: DWR, LoZ: Link's Awakening DX, Metroid II), and most important of all, the brand new software (Sakura Samurai, Zen Pinball 3D, and VVVVVV being my top 3), I honestly can't find a way to be dissapointed. Sure, there's not something to download EVERY week, but it hasn't really bothered me.

Hokori

#9

Hokori said:

I'd enjoy it more if the US got Wario Land, KI OMAM, Kirby DL 2, and more demos

Arcamenel

#11

Arcamenel said:

It definitely needs more demos. All of my friends that game don't even consider a game until after they've had a chance to play a demo. If they can't they go to reviews but those can be severely biased. I agree that not having a demo for Kid Icarus was quite a misstep on Nintendo's part. The game is amazing but so many people were and still are hesitant to buy it. They spent so much time advertising it why not get a demo for it? I believe allowing just the first chapter to be playable would've sold a lot of people sooner on the game.

More 3D games wouldn't hurt either. A lot of retail games aren't really utilizing the 3D so why not make download games that do.

Flowerlark

#12

Flowerlark said:

Heh, I already had to swap the 2GB SD card that the system came with for an 8GB, and I only have about 30K blocks left on it. XD Okay, so I have a lot of free time to play way too many downloads. Honestly, I've spent a lot more money in the e-shop than I have on retail games, so I'd say I like it quite well. I'd ask for a bit more diversity, though. So far it's mostly platformers (only counting 3DSware and VC games, not DSiWare) and a couple sports and a couple puzzle games with only a little bit else to offer. I would like to see more variety in the audiences they target. It feels like they cater mostly to hardcore, very skilled players who like it 'old school.' For people... like me... who didn't grow up playing them (and thus kinda suck at them) there's not much to play that isn't unbearably frustrating (love those restore points in VC though). I'm excited about Unchained Blades and would love to see some other RPGs or more must-have games that aren't so frantic.

Yasume

#13

Yasume said:

7/10 seems just right. I'm pretty satisfied with what it has to offer atm. The VC is great, I would only like to see more 3DSWare and demos.

Heatran5400

#14

Heatran5400 said:

i only get free games or stuff cause i can just play the game on another 3ds whose owner bought.

MrAndrewJ

#15

MrAndrewJ said:

I'm in North America and got more than my seven dollars worth out of Zen Pinball 3D. It's honestly one of the most gorgeous games I've played on the system - including physical/retail titles.

sinalefa

#17

sinalefa said:

I agree that there should be more demos, specially of downloadable games, as it is harder to try them at a store. They are cheaper than retail games, but still people should have the chance to try them.

I disagree with having a KI Uprising demo for the simple fact of not being able to use the 3DS Stand. I played the majority of the game with it, and I never had any hand cramping problems, which I had by playing the game without it.

Finally, it is nice to see a pricing structure not as rigid as in Wii, with each game having the same price for being on the same system. Here each GB game is priced based on other factors, and that makes more sense. Still I would love to see sales on specific games, like the weekend deals you see on Steam.

Henmii

#20

Henmii said:

I can be very short about the e-shop: Faaar to many games are still released as DSiware! One of the reasons could be that developers don't want to turn their games 3D!

Anyway, I think Nintendo really should let go of the DSiware! And if they keep continuing it, then at least make it so that you can download the games straight to a SD card and load them straight from a SD card! That's really important!

As for the old games: Nes games are not needed! They are already on the Wii shop! There should be more GB/GBC games, at least 5 a week (just as was initially the case with the Wii)! And we also want GBA games! That's all!

TheConsiglio

#21

TheConsiglio said:

I hated the dsiware shop but i'm glad they put the games on there, just hate the layout. Too Bland. ) : But what nintendo really should do is put The Virtual boy games as 3D CLASSICS that would be TIGHT!

MeWario

#25

MeWario said:

I love it, most of all for the VC games. My biggest issue with the service is the delay between the zones. I hate that Ive had to wait months for Mutant Mudds and Sakuri Samurai and America has had to wait months for Wariolabd (poor buggers)
O actually my biggest issue is no Gameboy Advance games! grrrr

MeWario

#26

MeWario said:

O and my 3DS died (which got replaced under warranty) but all the games that I had downloaded were lost forever!!! =(
There needs to be an account system so that this never happens again.

Phle

#27

Phle said:

I have to be honest, I haven't found much I like in the eShop.

I have the Colors! 3D drawing game and Pokédex 3D, Nintendo Video, Nintendo Letter Box (but I don't have anyone to send letters too.. -_-') myNotebook, a boring game called Freakyforms and Zelda: Four Swords. I haven't played much of the Zelda game, as I can't feel the love when the graphics aren't awesome at all. I have tried some of the demos available though and I think it's a really great feature that Nintendo should keep giving us more of.

I don't want more "old games for your 3DS", I want new games with "this is more like it" graphics.

Nintenbro

#29

Nintenbro said:

Nintendo should've already begun offering officially licensed SD cards as a Club Nintendo reward. With the lack of retail titles early on and so much access to downloadable content, I believe it should've been in their interests to do so... And also our's. :D

MAB

#30

MAB said:

Happy with how its going down so far all I want is the ambassador games available for everyone to download. It should not take this long especially if they're already emulated and sitting on a server all they need to do is check the box that says 'upload to eshop' :)

kyuubikid213

#31

kyuubikid213 said:

Okay, improvements I wish to see in the eShop...
1. Port any game possible to the Virtual Console. By any game possible, I mean not just GB, GBC, GBA, DS games, I also mean games that aren't limited by the system itself such as SNES and NES games. I know that a lot of people think that the home consoles should do the home console VC, but how incredible would it be playing Link to the Past anywhere in it's "original" form?

2. Make all future titles both digital and physical. I, personally, enjoy physical media with games. However, I do want to carry every game without having to mess with the game cards. NOTHINGS WRONG WITH CARDS, and I will probably still lug them around after digital downloads are possible, but the added convenience would be a blast!

3. Update the Ambassador Games already! I need the emulator save states to be able to beat Zelda II. So bring 'em on!

and lastly 4. Put a wider variety of games on the eShop. There is already a HUGE variety amongst the eShop titles, but if you go to do a Filter Search, there are many options that do not yet have games tagged under them. I want to see at least one FPS make it's way to the eShop. I'd rather pay $7 for that than $20 for one that is a waste of time at the store...

kyuubikid213

#32

kyuubikid213 said:

Another small issue is the demo play limit. The demos are already incredibly short. Why limit how many times we can play them? Really though, I'd rather not see that I only have X number of times to play this or that I still have XX number of times to play this. When the number is high, it looks like I either didn't enjoy it or only got it because it was free...

Nintendude789

#33

Nintendude789 said:

I know this person who has a 3DS, but never connected to the Internet because he has perantal controlls on it. So he can't connect to the Internet at all. And this other person I know doesn't want to connect his 3DS to the Internet because he's happy with the retail games. I told him he can enjoy even more games when connected to the Internet, but he doesn't want too. What a N00B.

BudrSbastig

#35

BudrSbastig said:

It needs more demo's, and take the play limit of the demo's, why cant I play it more than 30 times? My 7 year old nephew can not buy that many games, so the free demo's are the bread and butter of his gaming life, and a limit on these demo's restricts his playing time.

Adhrast

#36

Adhrast said:

@BudrSbastig: For as ugly this might seem, demos are not there for your 7 year old nephew to play over and over for free, they're there for people to decide whether to buy a game or not.
The limit is there, ok, but have you ever gone even close to that limit? Hell, I haven't! 30 times is more than enough to try a demo and see if you are going to buy a game or not, aren't they?
Anyway, I think eShop lacks variety: there are a lot of beautiful games, but the majority of them are puzzle/platformers and the likes... Without considering DSiWare, but just 3DS-Only games, the offer is stil quite poor...

Smooth27

#37

Smooth27 said:

The eshop has gotten 2 times better since it began. Only thing I hate is how every thursday we only get 3 things most times is two dsiware games and one 3dsware or demo its cool and all but why can't we get 4 or five things like more 3dsware games and demos. We need more social apps, it would be nice to hang out at Starbucks using the at&t and logging in to my Facebook, twitter, or Skype my friend and watch youtube vids. How cool would that be? Also Nintendo should really sell 3D movies! Lastly please add shooters to eshop like gamelofts shooters.

fishman100

#38

fishman100 said:

There are a lot of good games to buy on the eShop but I wish there was some sort of "return" function that refunds part of your money if you find that you don't like the game you downloaded, because then it ends up being a waste of $$ and space on the SD card.

Koos

#39

Koos said:

It has great games and I think it will be wise for Nintendo if they put more demos and also 1 dollar games and free apps

Lyndexer

#40

Lyndexer said:

I wanna see a video channel for 3DS. since it has a inner cam, it'd be nice to chat to friends. I would hate seeing it come out and cost money. Although, I can see why they make you pay for it.

BulbasaurusRex

#41

BulbasaurusRex said:

I don't get why the 2 rows on the e-Shop is such an improvement. So now instead of looking at all the categories across one row, I now look at a shorter row, press down, then look through a second shorter row. So what? It doesn't save any time looking through all the categories for stuff like Nintendo Week, the demos, or upcoming games; and I'm still just going to use the search function or recent arrivals section when I'm going to buy something.

grumblebuzzz

#42

grumblebuzzz said:

The eShop has had some good moments, but I really wish they'd quit it with the over-priced cell phone clone games and give us more VC in the US instead. It seems like when we finally do finally get one, it's a black and white version of a casual game (see Kirby's Block Ball, for example). I know that American journalists are always saying that smartphone time-killers are going to kill off games like Mario and all that, but not EVERYONE wants to sink money into these games, Nintendo. I don't wanna play Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, because that's just a 5-minute waste of time to me; I want to play games like Wario Land and Kid Icarus and Zelda, which to me are REAL games.

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