Thomas: The eShop itself has evolved, thankfully, through system updates. First up, how vital was it for retail demos to make an appearance, and is it going far enough in that regard?
Corbie: I think any time you can get demos of your games on the eShop it's going to be good for sales. Who doesn't want to try out a game before they slap down $40+ for it? And the same can be said of the download eShop titles, it's always going to help boost sales if you can allow players to try them before they buy them. At least if the games are good.
Chris: I think it’s a great addition to the eShop and one that should’ve been there from the very beginning. I like to try before I buy with games I’m on the fence about. Many times, I usually end up buying it if it’s something I take the time to try the demo for – unless it’s atrocious, of course.
Ron: I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the retail demo downloads. There’s no reason that I can think of for why they haven’t been available like this before, but I’m glad it’s happening now. It’s so convenient, and I think it shows that Nintendo is supporting its third party developers more.
Thomas: Yet we haven't had many demos for eShop titles, why do you think that is?
Chris: I don’t have an answer as to why this is, but I know that it’s a feature that needs to be implemented.
Corbie: Well we had the Mutant Mudds demo for a while that was a very good show of what the game had to offer, but you're right, they've been very few and far between and there's really no reason not to. I know the developers generally have to create a working build of a demo, which takes away from other titles they're working on in development, but considering what it can do for that developer's sales, it's definitely worth the time and trouble in most cases. I'm not sure why Nintendo doesn't push harder for demos.
Ron: Like Corbie said, the Mutant Mudds demo popped up not too long ago. There’s also a demo available for Pyramids. I just think people are more interested in retail releases though, so that’s what the big N wants to push.
Thomas: Ah, I won't have seen that Mutant Mudds demo, being stuck here with my European 3DS! One thing the eShop does do well is provide trailers of many download games. How important do you think that is for developers and consumers?
Corbie: While not as important as actual demos, trailers can be vital to giving you an idea of what a game looks like, plays like, and sounds like. I can't count the number of times I've been sold on a game just from a simple gameplay trailer. They get people excited about the game and that's the biggest hurdle in getting consumers to pony up their money for a game.
Chris: I think it’s extremely important. Having the resources on hand to research the titles that you’re interested in is never a bad thing for the consumer, and if the game's good, then it’ll benefit the developer too. One thing I do really like on the eShop is that the trailers don’t have to be downloaded to be viewed. Streaming video is much more convenient than all those pesky downloads!
Ron: Personally, I watch a whole bunch of the trailers that are on the eShop. Sometimes it’s just to get a feel for what genre of game I’m looking at, or what gameplay itself looks like. I’m glad the videos are there, even if there isn’t a demo for everything.
Thomas: In terms of the eShop layout. The most recent update has split the setup into two tiers. What do you think of the redesign and, more generally, the use of themed channels and so on?
Corbie: I really like it. Gives the whole setup a more modern look and makes perusing the eShop more inviting and enjoyable. Could it still be a lot more functional, sure, but at least it shows Nintendo’s willing to try some new things and make it more appealing for 3DS owners.
Could it (eShop layout) still be a lot more functional, sure, but at least it shows Nintendo’s willing to try some new things and make it more appealing for 3DS owners.
Ron: I’m not too fazed by these. I usually know exactly what I’m looking for when I boot the eShop up. Remember when Nintendo Life had a channel on there though? That was pretty awesome.
Chris: I like the new layout. It’s easier to navigate with more choices onscreen at once. The themed channels are nice – especially when we had the Nintendo Life Channel — but they seem to have the same things over and again sometimes.
Thomas: One big improvement in my view, from an earlier update, is the ability to add funds for an individual purchase. Are you pleased that blocks of Nintendo Points have been replaced?
Ron: Yes, yes, and yes. Adding funds just for specific games was a completely necessary addition.
Corbie: Very much so. I was never a big fan of being 100 points short and having to add a much larger amount of points just to get the one game I wanted at that particular moment. I fully expected that to be fixed much sooner than it was, actually. Nintendo might be taking its time in making things more functional, but at least improvements are being made.
Chris: I despised the Nintendo Points system and I’m very pleased that it’s been removed.
Thomas: Nintendo isn't renowned, at the moment anyway, for top-notch digital services. What, in your view, has been its biggest mis-step in eShop's first year?
Corbie: I think the lack of demos has been the biggest complaint I've had. I just think not having them really hamstrings so many of the great games that are being released. Some of these games are coming from developers that many gamers haven't heard of or aren't that familiar with and sometimes that's the difference between a sale and someone passing on it due to that lack of a recognizable developer name. They really need to get demos on the eShop and consistently, not just every once in a blue moon.
Chris: There are quite a lot of things that factor into this in my opinion: lack of an achievement system, purchases tying into user accounts etc. While many of these might not seem viable to the eShop specifically, restrictions to the system’s online capabilities keep users from constantly accessing its internet options. Gamers on other systems are so connected to their user profiles and personal achievements these days that it gives them incentive to stay connected on their consoles. I think if Nintendo had implemented these features, even more gamers would connect to the eShop on a daily basis.
Ron: From my perspective the only major mis-step is a lack of content, I guess. I haven’t been too disappointed overall.
Thomas: I remember there was a real shortage of eShop fund cards in UK retailers in the early days. It didn't affect me, but for those that wanted to pay with cash it was a real problem. On a more positive score, what has been the best thing about the eShop in its first year?
Corbie: I think the best thing has been that there have been some really great titles coming out at fairly decent intervals. I think we've seen some amazing games released already and there are more coming down the road. I'm also loving that some developers are finally releasing some additional content, like the bonus levels in Mighty Switch Force. I'd like to see more of this, personally.
Ron: There have been some great games, and the VC games that keep rolling out have been some real gems. I think the fact that we can finally (legally) download and play Game Boy and NES games is great. Also, playing Punch-Out!! on the go is probably the single greatest experience in my life.
Chris: Pushmo, Mutant Mudds, Might Switch Force and VVVVVV in 3D!
Thomas: Let's look at the future of the eShop. Two things spring to mind: there's likely to be a lot more DLC, as Corbie touched on with Mighty Switch Force, and we have full retail downloads on the way. What do you think will come in the next year, and how do you think the platform will evolve, especially with Wii U joining the party too?
Corbie: As you mentioned, we'll be getting New Super Mario Bros. 2 as both a retail and digital download release, and that's good news. I'm also very curious to see how many more retail releases Nintendo will make available on the eShop. Of course we also have upcoming games like Bomb Monkey, NightSky, and a few other great games that I got a crack at during E3 that should continue to liven things up on the service.
Chris: As long as I get more great games, I’m one happy camper. You never know what craziness Nintendo has in store for us, so I’m just going to wait and see. On paper, you’d never sell me on Nintendo Video, but I absolutely love those wacky little videos each week. Nintendo always surprises me in the strangest of ways and that’s why I adore it.
Ron: I’d love to see some connectivity between the two consoles, and maybe have eShop games playable on Wii U. I know that the Wii U screens can’t display stereoscopic 3D, but the VC games would run just fine.
Thomas: We'll end with our reviewer hats on. If you had to give the eShop a score for its first year, what would you give it?
I'll go for 7/10.
Chris: I’d have to go with a 7 as well. It’s a solid digital platform with some great games, but it definitely has room for improvements as well.
Ron: I’d probably have to give it a 6. It hasn’t been bad by any means, but it definitely has a lot of room for improvement. Or maybe a 7. Yeah, maybe a 7.
Corbie: Yeah I was thinking 7/10 too. I think we've seen some great stuff, but let's face it, there are still many more improvements that can be made to make it more user friendly and far reaching. Nintendo still needs to get more 3DS owners on the service. End of story.
Always good to end with everyone agreeing. We'd love to read your comments about a year of eShop, or any of the topics we chatted about, in the comments below.