News Article

Talking Point: The Wii U eShop is Raising Tough Questions on Quality Control

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Accessibility is generally considered wonderful, but has its downsides

In the coming weeks we're going to tackle a tricky issue here at Nintendo Life, in which we look at the direction of the Wii U eShop and ask whether a change in structure is required. In general the store shows excellent support for all download games, providing each and every example with a spotlight and decent store placing — at least in launch week — alongside its contemporaries. We've long praised this, and trumpeted the value of support for toolsets like Unity and the Nintendo Web Framework.

Nintendo Life is a site that, as part of its history and future, has always been supportive of Nintendo download platforms, with our policy of reviewing every download game still in place as one of our integral goals. It's also a young marketplace, particularly for Nintendo, after its early but flawed WiiWare and DSiWare platforms, plus the revolutionary — at the time — Virtual Console offerings; this eShop era has seen Nintendo's policies evolve further, with far more welcoming terms allowing more developers to join. The 3DS eShop remains a little more limited in appeal to developers than its home console brethren, simply due to accessibility — it takes more advanced programming skill and experience to develop on the portable, at present. That barrier of entry is lower on Wii U, however, with Unity being joined by the accessible code bases — such as HTML5 — of the Nintendo Web Framework, with tools existing that minimise the amount of technical proficiency that's required, and in theory opening the door to an exciting new group of 'indie' developers.

Yet that's the topic we're raising here, and one that we'll assess with developers in the weeks to come. The question is simple: is the Wii U eShop platform now too accessible? Is Nintendo's desire for content on its stores, and its laudable efforts to enable developers with the tools and support they need, bringing us a negative flipside of titles arriving on the store that shouldn't be there, games that aren't good enough for a home console experience? This very topic is contentious, we're aware, but we also like to think that our efforts in covering the download sector for many years entitles us to tackle it fairly.

We'll be giving developers of various sizes and status to pitch in on the topic, but let's outline the core issue at hand to kick off the debate within the community. What level of quality is acceptable for a game on a Nintendo home console? Where do we draw the line between applauding plucky developers and questioning their place on the hardware? Should the eShop have standards of 'premium' content, or be open to all games, allowing consumers to ultimately decide?

When the Wii U launched, this writer clearly remembers a conversation with a valuable former member of the team — who's since moved on to exciting new things — around the pricing of the eShop's launch line-up. Typically in the £8 - £15 / $10 - $20 range, the question was raised whether the pricing was a little high, especially to 3DS owners stepping onto the Wii U store and perhaps expecting prices a few dollars cheaper. These were debates the developers and publishers no doubt had among themselves, but in this conversation we agreed on a key point — when you buy a game on a home console, you expect a degree of premium quality that isn't necessarily demanded on a portable device. As a result the pricing seemed about right, and as a whole that opening gambit of games delivered that quality, as most that own Trine 2: Director's Cut, Nano Assault Neo et al are likely to attest. Of those opening half dozen games, our review scores never dipped below seven.

Those that remember the early buzz of that launch month in late 2012 will also remember what followed — a game drought. Enticing, quality download games that weren't from the Virtual Console were few and far between for months, with some poor releases also thrown in. It's taken time for developers, whether utilising their own bespoke engines or those such as Unity, to get their projects finished and out of the door. We'd argue that we've seen some genuine recent quality as a result, with the occasional exclusive and a range of high-end multi-platform releases. There are still games coming through that are well below par, with recent targets of our ire being the My Farm entries flooding into the North American store, along with others such as Fit Music for Wii U.

This year has brought another batch of rather different titles, though, with games brought to the system through the Nintendo Web Framework starting to land. It began with BLOK DROP U, which immediately felt different to its downloadable contemporaries due to its simple presentation, combined with a model of a low price and the promise of free updates. Though the flood of smart device games once expected on the Wii U, as the result of an apparent tool to allow easy porting, hasn't happened — we've only had occasional cross-overs — this brought the iOS style to the system. A quick, accessible, inexpensive download that's basic yet, in this case, works as a reasonable purchase.

In general a number of games through this framework have been decent, functional efforts that, in the eyes of our review team at least, have been worthy of middling scores and cautious recommendations — better examples include I've Got to Run! and GEOM. If they cost less than a cup of coffee and provide up to an hour or more of decent entertainment, they arguably hit the mark, though recent weeks have perhaps brought cause for hesitation. We were critical of performance lag in Internal Invasion, for which the Framework platform itself was partially blamed in responses to our review, we slammed BrickBlastU!, and recently awarded a rare 1/10 to The Letter, which has done much to prompt this editorial. The latter can be beaten in under 10 minutes and, frankly, shouldn't be on a home console platform.

Where it should be, if you were to go back some generations, is on a shareware PC website as a free download. Before 'indie' was a term thrown around with merry abandon, developers that hoped for a career making games would often learn their trade by making free PC games; if you go further back systems like the ZX Spectrum in the UK were a coder's hotbed. Mistakes would be made, early efforts would perhaps be atrocious, but lessons would be learned. Nowadays, as we've heard from developers of various levels, tools have made producing games far easier and, as a result, the coding apprenticeship of days gone by is arguably no longer required, with the possibility to skip ahead — with relatively little funding and capital — to consoles. We'd question whether that's a good thing, however, as learning from mistakes is surely better done with a small userbase on a PC forum, than on a home console download store.

We're in a peculiar scenario in that we not only have some particularly poor download offerings from established publishers and developers, as will always be the case, but also a range of offerings with budget pricing and production values that we'd also consider to be worthy of stinging criticism. It's immediately clear that some of these games are from first-time developers, and the Wii U is their first platform, and an absence of practical experience doesn't seem to prevent these projects being approved. We appear to have gone from an era of Nintendo being too difficult to work with in which experienced studios — such as the Pickford Brothers — can't get in the door, to the opposite scenario where young developers with no record of producing games can release a download onto the Wii U. Has the pendulum swung too far?

We're going to explore whether a middle ground is required, and whether accessibility should mean a door that's ajar, not wide open. Suggestions could include a tiered system on the eShop, where download studios with a track-record and level of quality are in one tier, and those releasing low budget games as a first or particularly early foray into development could be in a clearly marked 'New Talent' section, or a similar phrase. In some senses Microsoft did this with its Xbox Live Indie Games, consisting of titles developed with the accessible XNA tools and were essentially self-published and peer-reviewed.

There were gems from the idea, but also a lot of games that could be generously described as "underwhelming", sometimes awful; yet they still existed in their own distinct area. Those venturing into this area of so-called "Community Games" knew what they were stepping into due to the branding — those distinctions aren't overtly advertised on the Wii U eShop. Nintendo does curate to a degree, with some special categories further down the store page, but recent releases and general windows in the upper half of the store do little to identify retail from download-only, and more importantly downloads of a certain standard from others that — as highlighted above — perhaps don't deserve such generous exposure.

It's a slippery slope, however, which is why we'll draw on the views of developers at various levels in the weeks to come. If single developers or groups of just two or three had been ruthlessly ignored and deprived of the exposure they deserved, the so-called indie revolution may never have happened with games like Super Meat Boy and Braid emerging onto the scene; likewise projects such World of Goo on WiiWare. Again, though, perhaps the tales of these developers began with work at larger development studios, or in making free games and learning from the online community's feedback. It's also worth noting that they were pioneers in relatively young download platforms; the space is now far more populated and crowded.

If you segregate a platform like Nintendo Web Framework, you're also in danger of automatically sidelining projects that, with the increasing power of those tools, deserve to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with games such as Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition.

There is a sense of the download scene beginning to split into multiple tiers all by itself, ultimately. Teams of a few people — or a slightly larger team of a dozen or so — may work on a game for one to two years, and it arrives as a unique, quality experience, while in other cases projects are getting turned around rapidly, whether in these Web Framework examples or other downloads on the Wii U eShop. We've been criticised by some for giving an inexpensive game with a quick turnaround a low score; the argument seems to be that because it's a dollar, was developed in a few months and has free updates on the way, we should be more generous. Yet surely if it's on the eShop consumers are entitled to expect a certain kind of product, or are those shifting sands? Should standards be lowered if it's a certain kind of game? We'd suggest not in various cases, as the core concept of what makes a game 'good' should apply to all, but there are valid counter-arguments.

We do feel that the eShop is in a peculiar place, however, with a range of these inexpensive, low-budget products arriving in North America, particularly; Europe's ratings and localisation requirements have been beyond the scope, so far, for some of the latest generation of newcomers on the store. On the one hand we applaud Nintendo for providing opportunities to those that have never released a game before, or are doing so on a shoestring budget, yet on the other hand wonder whether some titles should actually be on an equal footing with larger, established download developers who's games are, to be blunt, in an entirely different league. From a business perspective, Nintendo must also consider whether the eShop could better present content to put its best foot forward, or whether it should actually be picky in what titles it invites on board, or at least those given significant shelf space. The platform lives and dies, remember, on the quality of its content and how it presents itself to consumers.

These are tricky issues, and we expect an interesting debate. Our goal is to give all sides a fair say, and to ultimately consider whether the eShop's egalitarian approach needs to be adjusted; whether the open gate should, ultimately, have a more stringent gatekeeper.

What do you think of Nintendo's approach to the Wii U eShop library, along with some of the examples above? Do you like the current policies, or do you feel that greater quality control is needed?

From the web

User Comments (159)



alwaysasn said:

I think, currently, having websites like NintendoLife reviewing the eshop games evens the playing field. In the 80's/90's Nintendo's lockout chip was necessary because if they started having a slew of bad/unplayable games it would ruin the reputation of the console. Now people are more Saavy and can turn to internet based media to see if the game's worth checking out.

If anything I think Nintendo should also make demo versions mandatory for all indie developers. Let people actually play the game before they purchase. OR, go the Android route and allow consumers to request a refund within an hour of purchase!



XCWarrior said:

Nice piece.. a bit long in the tooth... but great points made.

I do think there is a fair amount of shovelware on the eshop, no doubt. But this is no different than any other generation. Just before it was on the retail shelves. Go look in a bargain bin at a Walmart or Toys R Us and you will find tons of garbage - Imagine (Fill in Blank), I Spy, Party Timezzzz, TV/Movie Tie In game, etc etc. And these games were initially priced at $30-$50! Sure, an "established publisher" has their name on the box, but they play like a bunch of college interns got together for a summer and slapped a game together.

Quality control will forever be a problem in all formats - games, movies, TV, etc. The eshop could use some remodeling to maybe divide this up, but it needs fixing period. It's hard to find anything more than 3 weeks old on there if you don't know it by name.

There will always be shoveware, sad but true fact.



DefHalan said:

Haven't read all of it but The Letter isn't finished, the developer is very vocal about that. Sure someone who doesn't pay attention might buy it expecting a finished game but game media should know. Also The Letter is less buggy than much of what EA releases as full $60 retail games. I understand the concern is real with the eShop "lowing standards" but I don't think it is fair to use The LLetter as an example of this until the developer finishes the game



gatorboi352 said:

I think this article is much ado about nothing because of one simple reason: the typical Wii U owner. The typical Wii U owner who would, in turn, be accessing said eShop, is a Nintendo loyalist and by design extremely aware of many to all offerings on the platform. There are no casuals here (at least any substantial number of them). This isn't a Wii situation about to happen all over again (retail based shovelware by the truck load).

For the most part, the only real issue here is "The Letter" and the author of this article even details as much. It's a rare anomaly, whereas many of the other bad eggs referenced aren't really doing anything in regards to generating good or bad publicity.



MrV4ltor said:

The one thing that seperates these small, low budget games from the the bigger games with a higher budget and better presentation, is the storefront. I think that Nintendo is very picky with the games that they put up on there, since it is a general representation of the content that is currently available on the eshop. Thankfully most of these low effort shovelware titles get burried somewhere and are only viewable if you search for them and already know about them.



gatorboi352 said:

@DefHalan "but The Letter isn't finished, the developer is very vocal about that."

Well then it shouldn't have been released FOR PAY on the eShop yet. Post release patches and/or additional DLC is one thing. What the dev of The Letter did and is trying to do is just a sham. Worked out lovely for him though. All that bad pub has people flocking to his game and the Miiverse community.



MrV4ltor said:

@DefHalan It's even worse to release a bad unfinished game than a finished bad game. And adding a few more areas is not going to make up for the atrocious gameplay concept and the horrendous assests and textures.



rjejr said:

Wow TW, that's some read, even for you, I'm really impressed.

Where to begin....

First, this sentence jumped out at me - "The latter can be beaten in under 10 minutes and, frankly, shouldn't be on a home console platform.'

um, Damo wrote last week how the Gamepad was a "tablet killer". You want to be a tablet killer, you need to have really bad $1 games. Unfortunately lots and lots of $1 games. Too bad you didn't write this first, maybe we all could have been spared the "tablet killer" comments section, it wasn't pretty.

PSN has had PS3 "minis" for a few years now, I just see these garbage games as Nitnedo catching up. I have been saying for months now that Nitneod should have a similar "mini" label for webframework and other Unity stuff (that should probably be free anyway) to distinguish it from better games. Problem is stuff like Kung Fu Rabbit that kind of borders really good games like Gucamele and the bad stuff. But Sony has been doing it for years. "A Shooter for $2" is a mini that probably could have been $8. Hungry Giraffe - a favorite of Sammy's - is probably the worst game I have ever played on any system ever made including many a really bad free app.

So my feeling is, Nitneo wants to compete w/ Sony and MS (well whether they want to or not they are), you gotta have bad games, but price them appropriately and put big warning labels on them. "Nintendo Bites" is a nice double entendre for them.



Tops said:

I think it's a non-issue that boils down to doing your homework before making a purchase.

If there is one thing Nintendo should clamp down on its making sure the games released aren't buggy. But I haven't had a problem with that because I read reviews of the games I want to buy and avoid those games.



DiscoGentleman said:

Really nice piece. It's been on my mind lately, too. Especially with absolute garbage like "The Letter" coming to Wii U (though, to be honest, it's just given me a boost in confidence in continuing to develop my Unity-based RPG and apply for a Wii U dev kit).

It's really hard to say exactly what to do in this case, but I feel a little something must be done. I don't think there should be a huge reform of the eShop, except maybe it's marketing and placement of games to make things more accessible. Maybe some kind of "quality standard", but then again, that could alienate potential developers, as "good" & "bad" are fairly objective.

I guess it's just a typical case of "buyer beware" and making sure you've researched something before you buy it, at least to a small degree. I mean, isn't that the quality that we should be personally holding ourselves to? I don't just buy some brand new food at a grocery without at least reading the ingredients; I don't just donate to some fund/charity without researching them.

Perhaps (as crappy as it sounds) the quality standards should be from the buyer.
Though... it urks me to see amazing games like Shovel Knight & Guacamelee alongside The Letter & Fit Music for Wii U (the latter which should've been shot down by Nintendo, as they were obviously trying to cash in on the Wii Fit craze- that's bad publicity for Nintendo).
Ahh... what do, what do...



Olmectron said:

@DefHalan The Letter, huh? That's what Steam Early Access is for. While Nintendo doesn't implement something like that, the common user won't be able to know that, (even if it's posted on Miiverse). Don't know how Nintendo let that game in, really...

Is that "not finished" info in the eShop game description ?



Kogorn733 said:

Really the burden should be on the developer to post gameplay videos, screenshots, statistics, etc. about the game, and on the prospective buyer to read those and make a decision. This is how it works on Kickstarter, where there is even more money being thrown around than just the price of a digital game.

Really, if a developer provides nothing but a vague description of the game and a couple screenshots, then you shouldn't buy it.



rjejr said:

@XCWarrior - "There will always be shoveware, sad but true fact."

Knew I was forgetting something. Why should the eShop be any different than the b&m retail aisles?

Aquaman and Superman exist. AND THEY BOTH RELEASED FOR RETAIL PRICE ON NINTENDO HOME CONSOLES. Everything else is valid after that.



ekreig said:

Unfortunately, shovelware is a fact of life. Before there was eShop shovelware, there was Wii/DSiware shovelware, retail shovelware...I think what Nintendo needs to do is keep their platforms open and do more to promote the indie/obscure games that are actually good. I believe the eShop could be much better organized in that regard.



Peach64 said:

I don't think a platform holder should ever be judging wether a game is good enough to be sold on their system. Let people make up their own minds by checking reviews and videos like they would for any other game.



Olmectron said:

I think it's really good for new talents to have an easier way to get into console market. That goes right now for MS, Sony and Nintendo, as different as their policies may be.

However, I think there could be something like that "community games" from MS commented on the article. So people is aware about the kind of games that can be found in that category.



Geonjaha said:

As long as the games aren't doing anything terrible; They have to be games (look at the greenlit simulators on Steam (PC) - it's horrible!) and they have to not steal assets or do anything else reprehensible. All platforms has its bad games, but as long as there is some redeeming factor the games should be allowed to be released to let the public decide.

Saying that people wont notice a great game about terrible ones is a bad argument imo; people who actually put a decent amount of money into gaming look into the games they buy first, and if they don't - why cater towards them? They'll buy anything! Have some level of quality control on the platform, but have we really seen that many games as of late that don't deserve to be on the Wii U/3DS eShops?



SetupDisk said:

It's as siimple as on PSN. To get the great games through you have to put up with the garbage. Of course it's been around longer but there are even more duds on there. If there is some kind of indie label that might deter many eshoppers from trying that product. I have never shopped on xbox live but on the eshop and psn not enough people give review scores to games.

Wow 100! Only 5 reviews though, which could beyond easily be just the devs.
Aslo in recent history there were games released on wii of just as low quality in physical form. The same with any platform that has been out for a while.

If you are a customer use your head like with any other purchase.



Blast said:

I always check out the description and screenshots of any game before I buy it. Quality matters!



LinkJr_Rezende said:

I think Miiverse is a good tool, right in the console, to evaluate the quality of the game through comments from REAL players. This is why I think astroturfing like was done by Fit Music developers should be punished really bad by Nintendo.

I also feel it is not fair to label games and mix something like Xtype+ which seems really well made with other NWF games of lesser quality. I believe Nintendo could have a review process, where great reviews and impressions make the developer receive more exposure on the eShop, and encourage developers to make games better before releasing to be featured more prominently on the shop, better quality = more exposure.



noctowl said:

Boo hoo. Every console has their terrible games. Glad we could get a news article on that. Everyone's taste is different. There are people who are having fun with the letter. People who didn't like 3D world. I was a kid who's favorite superhero was superman. Picking up cars and flying around, using all his powers were awesome to me. I loved superman 64. The internets hate for it isn't going to change anything.



MoonKnight7 said:

You've touched on a interesting issue, so thank you for the read. I think, for the most part, people know what they're in for if they're getting a game for $1-$2. Does that mean you should be less critical on the site? Absolutely not. There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism. If the game isn't good, it isn't good. I'd be fine if they had more quality control in that we never get a game like "The Letter" again. NL said it perfectly saying it never should have made it on the eshop to begin with. It's become a joke, where people are asking, "How did this happen??"

I do like the idea of a section of the eshop being "New Talent." First and foremost, it's polite, and says to the customer that you should do you homework before buying this game.



Naoiko said:

Just gonna say if your game isn't finished, you shouldn't be publishing it on a console (eshop or not). I mean, that is really what PC is for if your needing to bring in extra money to finish it or need testers. People expect the games they buy on a console to be the finished product. Putting anything less than that on the eshop is just scamming people in a sense.



DefHalan said:

I get people are upset that they paid money for The Letter and feel ripped off but it is unfinished. Just like Steam Earlier Access games only on Wii U, which doesn't technically have that feature. From a consumer point of view, sure one could argue the point but this should be from Nintendo Life's point of view and they should understand the game isn't finished. So using a unfinished title to justify that the eShop is allowing too many developers in is unfair. Plus everyone complained that Nintendo was too stricted, they let some questionable content through and now Nintendo is too easy. What do you people want? At least it isn't a App Store where they let anyone in.




I have alot to say about this subject as a developer myself, but I'll hold off to see if TW wants my words for a future take on this.

In the meantime let's not turn this into a "The Letter" bashing thread please. Try to stick to the general topic so us developers can gather the feedback and report it back to Nintendo. Thanks!



DiscoGentleman said:

@LinkJr_Rezende better quality = more exposure

I was just thinking that!

Also, another thing that would be brilliant is have a Miiverse link on the game's eShop download page that says something like, "Check out what people are saying about this game in Miiverse." That's promotion for Miiverse, as well.



Starwolf_UK said:

Nintendo is distancing itself from the WiiWare past of dictating the pirces, dictating when the game would come out (to some extent they still do as lot check still exists but once that is over the developer is free) and trying to force quality by only paying developers once they sold enough copies which only served to completely deter developers from the service as hardly anyone put their Wiis online.

Everyone having a go is a consequence of this but if it leads to more and better content being on the eShop the service will be strongher as a whole. It is the open and inclusive image they are gunning for that I mentioned in the opening (sadly, gagging their main eShop guy from Twitter possibly because he said something negative about region locking is not helping this open appearance).

Much like XNA this might lead to a treasure trove of hidden gems but there is yet to be enough of a flood for people to be lucky dipping in this regard.



GamesByXerron said:

Being a Wii U developer, I do have a great interest in the quality and impressions in the industry and in Nintendo. Everything changes, especially video games, and I'll keep researching and studying to get the most of what new opportunities and changes could arise. I do have a few remarks on this, but I want to elaborate more on it in a way to reach more people than in a simple thread of comments.



FilmerNgameR said:

Nintendo just needs to step their game up in the VC for both 3DS and Wii U same with SEGA other than that their E shop works fine.



SanderEvers said:

My take on this is really simple. There has always been shovelware. ALWAYS.

On the NES, on the SNES, on the N64, on the GameCube, on the Wii, so also on the Wii U. (And all other consoles, handhelds and pcs) Is this bad? Nope.

1. Games that are developed by inexperienced developers will actually make them (the developers) better. So their next game(s) will not be that bad.

2. Some games developed by major companies in a short time to tie in with a movie or event are always bad. Why? Because there was little to no time to actually test/develop the game.

3. A game you think is bad might be good for someone else. You are not the only gamer on the planet, and there are gamers who like other kinds of games. Or different kinds of gameplay.



ThomasBW84 said:

Just to make one point — enjoying the comments so far though — and that's to echo @RCMADIAX. This isn't all about The Letter, even if it did go some way to prompt this article. The idea had been in my mind a few weeks, it was just a potent example; the delay's been thinking it through and how to go about this.

As I said, I intend to reach out to plenty of devs (RCMADIAX, you're on the list!) to get various perspectives in future articles. There are broader issues here, such as how dev tools make game development so easy, whether we need to distinguish more between different 'levels' of DL games etc on the eShop etc.

Naturally, views will vary wildly, which I'll aim to capture.



LinkJr_Rezende said:

Point 1 is the one I agree the most, and I did support some releases from NWF because I believe these devs need time to improve their skills and make better games, and they'll need our money and support for that, hopefully someday they'll produce 10 dollar worth software. (and I supported @RCMADIAX )

A link to Miiverse in the eShop would indeed be really great.



Stu13 said:

The developer of The Letter has ruined everything for everyone. While I agree that it should ultimately be up to the consumer to make an informed decision, there has got to be SOME kind of standard in place. This madness has to be stopped before any more lives are destroyed.



ThomasBW84 said:

@SanderEvers I agree, though as platform holder Nintendo does have some control, whether it decides to use it or not. Perhaps it's not a case of blocking out less experienced developers, but curating the store better. If a relative flood of games continues, as has seemingly begun in North America (again, Europe's not had a lot of these games yet) the question is whether it affects the image of the eShop in a negative way. The argument could be for segregation, or for a limited game testing phase (at Nintendo's end, or a peer review system) in which games that are the worst of the worst are rejected until complete and/or improved. Obviously the counter-argument is that Nintendo's right to give all largely similar opportunities, as is the case for new releases in the first week, at least.

Just because something's always been the case, doesn't mean we shouldn't ask whether it can be different.



DiscoGentleman said:

@ThomasBW84 Just want to thank you for this article and your furthering "investigation". This is good gaming journalism, which is very hard to come by. Please keep up the good work.



DefHalan said:

I am not saying it is a good game just unfinished. What if every reviewer got their copy of SimCity, couldn't sign in because of server issues and gamethe game a 0/10? That wouldn't have been fair. I was surprised to see NL even review The Letter as it isn't finished. Personally if a game has announced DLC before the game's release than the game isn't finished until the DLC is out whether or not the DLC is free. I understand others disagree but this time the developer is telling you the game isn't finished



jakysnakydx said:

@DefHalan Then the game shouldn't have been released. That's really all there is to it. There are analogies and examples galore that could be made but from an actual consumer standpoint, his decision was disastrous. It may get better with time but you only have one first impression.



DiscoGentleman said:

@DefHalan Listen, man. Unfinished or not, the point is there's no base for the game to be built upon. It is completely devoid of creativity. It really is awful.
The dev is much better off scrapping it, counting his take-ins in pairs of bills, and making a new game. He should've gotten some good feedback on what not to do for the next one.



she_gamer said:

If anything, these type of games create a heavier reliance on sites like this, to give a (hopefully) unbiased third party review. I still read reviews for 1st party games, even though I know I'll probably get them.
Basically, it's training for new gamers. You spend money on a couple crappy games, and it makes you a much more savvy buyer in the future.



jakysnakydx said:

@SanderEvers I full heartedly agree but there are a few other things to take into account that are changing in the environment. The question we have to answer lies in that this is a slightly different scenario. Mr. Whitehead mentioned that within a few weeks time it is near impossible to find a game without knowing it by name now while this may always be the case it is definitely promulgated by an exacerbated and exorbitant amount of shovelware.
Nano Assault might be unrecognizable to new Wii U owners because they are flooded with information about Ava and Avior save Earth. We see this on the iOS and Play markets daily. I do feel greater definition would create an equal opportunity environment. We already see that retail games or big name publisher's do have a slight highlight or differentiation on the eShop to let us know they are a different caliber. Perhaps a little dividing will go along way?
I definitely agree that one mans trash is another mans treasurebut definitely to a degree.



Octane said:

In my opinion; the entirety of the so called ''indies'' on the eShop is shovelware.



MussakkuLaden said:

I would favour a quality control too, simply in the most basic way. It was less of an issue in the Wii Shop, but with it now being easier to port to the console and to publish (which is a good thing as such), there is a lot of real crap coming which could disappoint some casual gamers and hurt the reputation of the console. I don't mean that Nintendo should act like a dictator and prevent anything that serious gamers would consider crap - like those My Farm games, which are not totally broken after all, and seem to have their fans, as otherwise they would not release more and more all the time. But some games, like this letter title recently, they seem to lack any production standards... Having a certain minimum quality in the Nintendo shops would also be an advantage over completely open platforms like those on Apple and Android.



SCAR said:

I've been thinking this for a while. I was really hoping we wouldn't see this type of thing, but it isn't entirely unavoidable. A few titles come to mind...



Falchion said:

I have used Unity before, making a game for a high school competition. We came in third in the state. I know my game wasnt that good but i bet it would recieve about a 5/10 on this site.

From my experience, all takes is a little time and effort to make a decent game. I wish people wouldnt release half finished games or derivative titles on the eshop. They should sharpen their skills elsewhere and eventually release games on the eshop once they got better.



Zodiak13 said:

I would deal with many shovelware titles if in them even a single amazing gem was to surface amongst them. @RCMADIAX is doing a fine job of making competent inexpensive games and I believe creating updates based on feedback. I personally don't expect greatness from budget titles, but if I see effort and competency I am willing to support them.

I also like the idea of headings for these type of games, although maybe the better of these games would be in the main eshop page on the button you click as a caveat to well produced titles.



sketchturner said:

In general, I believe in a free market place. However, this is more fitting on the PC. When I buy a Nintendo system, I do expect there to be a certain stamp of approval ("Nintendo Seal of Quality" anyone?). I want Nintendo to be receptive to game developers, but I also want Nintendo to ultimately have authority to say "Sorry, The Letter is a horrendous game and we will not allow it on our eshop."



Octane said:

@Zodiak13 Indeed, shovelware (and it's a pun as well!). I don't really care for it. I'm tired of that 16-bit retro look, just because a game looks like something some obscure third party company released on the SNES back in the early 90's, doesn't mean it's a good game. Shovel Knight might actually be one of the few games that are actually playable, but it's still nothing special.



tebunker said:

@ThomasBW84 okay who pays for that? The play testing? Once you start charging developers for it you will see less and less ganes

Seriously this can be fixed really easily. Allow for more detailed reviews on the eshop. Right now it is very basic.

Second, and Nintendo kind of already does this, do not promote poor games on the front page or in press materials. Done.

Let the community curate and decide what is worthy or not. Nintendo should spend their time on more valuable things like making Virtual Console better, improving the backbone of the eshop. giving us a web accessible eshop etc.

It isn't and should never be Nintendos job to decided what is good or bad, let the market decide.



DiscoGentleman said:

@Octane Agreed, but no one is saying that Shovel Knight is a good game solely because it looks like a straight-up NES game. The story, the humor, the gameplay, the amount of content- all of it top notch quality.
There are tons of good indie games on any platform, and if you overlook them just because they're labeled indie, that is a damn shame. It's bigotry and unfair to the developers who do work hard on their product. Extreme example, but it is the same as saying you don't like a product because it was made by poor people, or by a certain demographic of people.

Here we have a perfect example of people having different opinions which is central to this whole eShop quality discussion right here.



Nintenjoe64 said:

The only quality control Nintendo should be doing is ensuring the bad games can't break your Wii U. It would be nice if they could ensure quality but the potential to miss out on the next big craze is too big a risk to take. Mr Nintendo might have thought Minecraft wasn't a worthy game etc.



DiscoGentleman said:

Another thought: perhaps they could have an icon that features 3-5 indie games on the eShop per week. Not necessarily discounted, but just 3-5 games per week that either sell very well, have a lot of positive comments on Miiverse, etc. That way we can see older indie games that are great like Nano Assault or Chasing Aurora, right next to new ones like Guacamelee or Shovel Knight. This helps the older games from getting buried, which is an issue, for sure, on the current eShop.



Luna-Harmony said:

I like the lay out of the wii u Eshop and the music but the listing of games should be better and make it easier to find older games.
the price of some games is way to high for a download as well.
The great thing about nintendo Eshop is the games are nintendo and so different from sony & microjunk.



GreatPlayer said:

If Nintendo should monitor the content on Eshop it should also monitor the content of the disc version of the game too. ESPN sports and Transformer...



Thulfram said:

Really nice article and I look forward to more on this subject. As someone who buys a lot of Wii U games, I have to say that the quality is much better than DSIWare/WiiWare (which I also bought a lot of). Over time it looks like a lot of the DSiWare/WiiWare folks learned their trade and are now doing better games for the newer platforms.

One thing I'm tracking is which Wii U eShop games are done using Nintendo Web Framework (and which of those are Construct 2) and which are Unity. Unity is certainly easier than writing native Wii U games, but Nintendo Web Framework (especially with Construct 2) are much easier. I've been surprised there aren't more NWF games since there are now tons of HTML5 games out in the wild.



Emblem said:

Quality control is about functioning games not about how much fun you think they are. As long as they don't brake your hardware, have acceptable content and are not buggy messes they should be allowed on the store.

99 people might hate games like The Letter but if 1 person likes it and is satisfied with the purchase does it not deserve at least to be sold?

There are plenty of review sites that will give reviews and plenty of Lets Plays so people know what their getting into. Making a purchase is a choice and its up to buyers to make sure that choice is an informed one.

TL DR; Popular opinion is not quality control.



Phantom_R said:

I think the real problem here is that the Wii U eShop is a mess. Period. You go on the 3DS eShop and you can scroll through different collections of games, all evenly spaced and sized, one-by-one. You go on the Wii U eShop and there are super-flashy, randomly-sized panels everywhere.

If you don't see a game you like in that seizure-inducing jamboree, you will probably never see it.



sleepinglion said:

The Letter was crap. With bland environments, zero guidance and a meandering quest for items it feels more like a trip to Wal-Mart than anything else. Good article.



DefHalan said:

I think it is unfair to judge a unfinished product. It doesn't matter if it is asking for money (Kickstarters and Early Access games do that too) it doesn't matter if you didn't know, the game is unfinished.



SKTTR said:

Remembering WiiWare (bought 140 games off that service) and it was great. The games were under amazing quality control, so bugs and freezing issues were extremely rare! It was in a time where there was no need for updates, and in fact only 1 out of 300+ games received an update and that was purely cosmetical (Gradius ReBirth). There was a standard for 5€ games and anything with less quality, content, or depth was rejected.

On Wii U however, many downloadable games have bugs,
Funky Barn was a total mess before the update (listing all the bugs would take me too long, but good thing they've updated it all)
Giana Sisters and Chasing Aurora got better and worse at the same time after the update (sad, after waiting for the updates for so long).
Nano Assault Neo, Spot the Differences, Armillo, all had/have bugs in their highscore lists. Armillo has several other bugs as well.
Coaster Crazy Deluxe is still very prone to crashing (no updates even though the developers know about the issues and the game is a year old already!)
Monkey Pirates asymetric multiplayer mode (the selling point) has a gamebreaking bug.
Even my beloved Squids Odyssey has crashed a second time on the loading screen (so it's not just randomness but indeed an error in the game) and it seems that one hat (item) is missing.

It seems, now that everyone can update for free, that developers got lazy and try to make an early quick buck with unfinished games.

I'm sick of developers churning out their unpolished, buggy trash. Says a lot about the love and care they have about their own games. It seems some people spend more time developing their game than to actually playing it through 100% like a pro - the way it should always be!

I thought early eShop games like Kung Fu Rabbit and Spot the Differences were showing the lowest standard, but compared to stuff that is allowed now they're icecream.

I love me some cheap 2-5€ games. Toki Tori, EDGE, RUSH, MSF2, Swords & Soldiers, Armillo, Flowerworks. They're all worth it! But you can't expect quality gameplay, graphics, music, and tons of content in every low budget game. But what gets to me most is that games like The Letter, I've Got to Run!, or Brick Blast U! don't even try to look like a finished game. They can't even get a title screen or the menus right. In such instances developers should take a cue from other games.

I like the idea of the open floodgates of course. It means there will be more underwhelming 'rookie' games, but also more interesting indie games, more cheap games, new talents, more variety, and certainly a few gems some day. There are enough indicators you can combine to see if a game is good or not (reviews, Miiverse, videos/let's plays, Stars rating on the eShop, etc.) so there's minimal room for nasty surprise, unless you're in a blind shopping frenzy.



smikey said:


"Quality control is about functioning games not about how much fun you think they are. As long as they don't brake your hardware, have acceptable content and are not buggy messes they should be allowed on the store.
99 people might hate games like The Letter but if 1 person likes it and is satisfied with the purchase does it not deserve at least to be sold?
There are plenty of review sites that will give reviews and plenty of Lets Plays so people know what their getting into. Making a purchase is a choice and its up to buyers to make sure that choice is an informed one.
TL DR; Popular opinion is not quality control."

I agree with all of that 100%

Every game has an audience regardless of how many people might dislike that game.
Microsoft and sony also have "poor games" on their e- stores
I'm not especially fond of the my farm series (played and completed the 2 on the pal wii u) (before anyone wants to condem that I intend to own, complete & review every game on a Nintendo console regardless of your opinion) my kids are young and quite like them.
In addition the my farm series got ok scores for the dsi versions different reviewer to the wii u ones but basically same game so clearly everyone has a different opinion.

Like a game buy it, don't like it leave it for the ones that do and buy something else.
Unless the game has serious issues Nintendo have no reason to step in.

I'll also note I spent yesterday and part of today playing Super Toy cars on wii u (releases this week on Thursday) it has a few issues (non game breaking that I've had) I've already relayed to the developer (who is working on them) and I'm sure Nintendo life will point them out in their review but as long as these are made clear to the buyers who bother to do any research (I''ll at least post them on miiverse as soon as the community goes live) before buying it's surely up to the buyer to make their own choice.



HAL9000 said:

Nice to see a developer participating in Nintendo forum discussions! I appreciate your interaction with users on Miiverse.

My reactions:
(1) Miiverse is a great tool for people to get real life user reviews and opinions on titles they are interested in buying. The good games (Child of Light, Shovel Knight) are getting great sales because they are popular on Miiverse and got good word of mouth. Shovel Knight is #15 on all time Wii U download software!

(2) Developers (like Fuzzy Wuzzy games, Yacht club, RCMADIAX) who participate in Miiverse have developed a loyalty that earns trust from Miiverse users.
I know personally (from RCMADIAX ) that I liked Block Drop U, but I was not interested in the new poker game that he made (not my genre). However, I will be checking out his Robomouse game.

(3) Nintendo needs Indie developers to fill in the release gaps left by money grubbing 3rd parties that are busy raking out profits on overpriced DLC. They have lowered the entry barriers and made the Wii U a viable indie marketplace. You are going to get good quality with bad quality - but this allows Nintendo platforms to get games that would otherwise only be on smartphones. The good stuff will rise to the top (Miiverse is awesome for user reviews) by consumers and purchases.

4- I would recommend Nintendo tweek the user reviews part of eshop to have more details if people are worried about quality control.

Speaking of quality control, many 3rd party games can crash the wii u as well (splinter cell blacklist online for example), so it is unfair to pick out just indies in quality control.



erv said:

Ok nintendolife, here's what needs to happen.

You need to play mario kart 8. Monster hunter. Wonderful 101. Pikmin 3. Super mario 3d world. Games that matter.

Then, review a title. Any title - a dollar eshop, a blockbuster bayonetta - any title. Then think about the quality experience. Not the price, or the dollar for an effort - think about my precious time. My precious, little, rather to be well spent time.

Then, do you really recommend 5 minutes of blok drop wii u over 5 minutes of mario kart? Or 40 minutes of I've got to run over 40 minutes of pikmin 3?

I'm willing to argue that the first review site that's willing to review any game experience in that light, instead of falling for non-significant referentials of price to quality ratios that forgoes any time for quality enjoyment ratio, wins the entire internet in the long run.

I'm still hoping that will be you guys.



statnut said:

Until we get crossbuy (and true crossbuy, not what they offer with the Squids game), the Eshop is always going to lag behind Xbox and Sony's digital offerings. Both companies offer a lot more in terms of quantity (and therefore quality) and in the case of Sony, there's plenty of crossbuy there.

I'd love to buy Shovel Knight, but can't decide which system to buy it for. That indecision has kept me from buying it, despite having over $17 in my eshop account for a while now. Wouldn't be an issue if it was a buy it once and play it on 3DS and Wii U.



PuppyToucher said:

@statnut buy shovel knight for the wii u. Unless you travel a lot and need the portability I think having it on the wii u with off tv play will give you the better experience. The game looks great on the big screen, the controls are very responsive on the gamepad, and I think you have a bit more viewing range in the game. Colin Moriarty, a reviewer at ign, recommended it on the wii u as well. Anyways buy shovel knight. It is a great game and I am actually about to double dip and get it on the 3ds as well for my second play through.



Ralek85 said:

@statnut I agree, but cross-buy is really just the tip of the iceberg here, or on Sony's side, icing on the cake if you will. The basic issues go far deeper ...

As to quality control, I think there will be a time and a place to talk about this, but having a discussion on it now, under the given circumstances, is like talking about the new amazing gaming room, you're going to put it in, while your fri**in' house is on fire. Before getting fancy and all, I'll suggest to prioritize putting out the fire and rebuilding the basics ...



TwilightAngel said:

@DefHalan Stop defending The Letter man, unfinished or not the developer should have waited to release the game. Cause that game is terrible beyond the definition.



DefHalan said:

The developer has been pretty open and honest about this being a way for them to raise money to fund the project. They made what they could with what they had and will put the money they make from selling it into updates and free DLC that will ultimately finish the game



ungibbed said:

As a former code monkey back from the best days of Sega hardware. Sega always provided feedback on a game submission before production and also reviewed internally giving the developer suggestions and feedback on how to improve their product. Everything from the overall look and feel of any game that came across but also quality control to make sure that such games (even poorly reviewed ones) were able to be completed.

Now with the Wii U on shaky ground, the system really needs some top quality games from the best indie developers but for first and second projects of questionable quality and such. It's a hard pill to swallow.

The Wii U NEEDS games that appeal to everyone but I also do support Nintendo for making it far easier to put together a game and make it visible to all. The hardest part of a small developer is getting their product noticed if it's great or if it's awful. The whole part of learning to improve your craft and ideas and getting a fair share of getting noticed on the eShop.

My position on all of this is for those new indies out there, think objectively. When you pick up a controller, ask yourself the simple question. "Is this a game that I would play more than once? Is this game headed in the right direction of what envisioned?"

The best feedback is from friends who have little exposure for feedback or the best option is a demo of your game. If players like the demo, they may be more inclined to buy your product without the fear of making a "blind purchase" which is a very hard sell to anyone. Especially if your game has no reviews or any momentum via social media or even here.

Thinking and working on your project objectively is very difficult as you want to see it finished and hopefully have a sleeper hit that starts to sell well.

If you can learn to look at your game from a different perspective, you may find ways to improve upon it in ways never thought before.



dumedum said:

Nintendo already got it nailed... the eShop is filled with different stuff, all with different headlines and directions. They call them as they see them (indies, multiplayer fun etc) and it's all well.



Hero-of-WiiU said:

I can barely keep up with all the releases on Eshop. The Wii U download games are mostly of quality but games like My Artic Farm screams genericism from the start. I think it's nice how accessible the shop is because in case of game droughts, we have the nice indie games fall back on.



daveh30 said:

@DefHalan when I messaged the developer and suggested that, perhaps, he should have finished the game before releasing it as opposed to relying on patches after the fact, he was very clear that he considers The Letter to be a finished, complete game in It's current form. The updates are only "bonus, added value" additions. That whole "but there's gonna be an update!" Argument we've seen on miiverse doesn't hold any weight.



MoonKnight7 said:

@DefHalan (@midnafanboy)

As it stands now, it is a finished game, even if it is a short one. This suggests that Nintendo really should have stepped in and said, "Hey before you release this, you should work on some things..." In terms of the general public, the developer has now damaged their reputation, and no amount of DLC can fix that.



DefHalan said:

That Is weird because the developer has stated how they are using the money they make from selling The Letter to finish it.



DreamOn said:

I've learned two things in my life: there's nothing people won't sell you, and there's nothing people won't buy. Now if you buy a game that's crap, we can still be friends, but I'm not playing video games with you lol



AJ_Lethal said:

It's similar to Steam's problem with Early Access: the low barrier of entry means game developers can put their games with ease, but sometimes that can be abused by scammers.

My advice: do research before buying.



statnut said:

@PuppyToucher That's the thing. I'm on my 3DS quite a bit. I usually play on the commute into and home from work, which is about 30-40 minutes each way. I generally take it with me 2-4 nights a week, with either a book or my hacked PSP coming the other days. So I generally game anywhere from 2-4 hours a week on it.

Probably will do the Wii U version, just for the DDP points. But it's still frustrating.



sleepinglion said:

@DefHalan Releasing a game and making excuses for it because it isn't finished is like a store giving you a lump of cloth when you ask to buy a shirt.
"What? Be patient. It WILL be a shirt eventually."
The Letter is a pitiful game and it's growing tiresome hearing the reasons it is being defended. Gunman Clive, Retro City Rampage... those were 1-man titles and kicked some serious gaming butt. The Letter plays like a tech demo from the 1990s and doesn't belong on the eShop.



daveh30 said:

i cant find the other post, but he was a bit more agitated... it was more like "i told you dave, it is a finished complete game. "

Hyperbole is the internet's best friend, and there's an unwritten rule that anything that vaguely disappoints must be colorfully compared to the experience of watching Hitler's ghost sodomizing a beloved childhood pet, but The Letter really is that bad.



Darknyht said:

I prefer eShop to be more Steam and less XBLA/Community. To me "The Letter" is little more than a "Secret of the Magic Crystals" to be gifted as a joke, although it looks there is less gameplay than Rock Simulator 2014.



DefHalan said:

I am not saying it is one guy so cut him slack. I am not even saying The Letter is good. What I am saying is the game is Unfinished. The developer is taking the money he makes off it to add more content. In the Miiverse message above, the developer could mean that the game is finished in the sense that you don't get to a point where the game stops but the story doesn't have an ending, I do not know I would ask the developer for clarification. If your example of the eShop goingdown hill is a game that is being built using the money it makes from selling the game then I think that is unfair. I have never heard of another console game that has ever done a similar strategy. From the preview of the first update there is already a lot of content being added. These patches are not to fix bugs but to continue to build the game. So if The Letter is your example of the eShop going downhill I have to disagree as PSN and Xbox Live haven't tried this, and even Steam Early Access hasn't tried it to this extreme (as far as I know). I am interested to see what the "final" product is.



Windy said:

Obviously this is a topic which players are conscious of with the amount posts here. For myself I worry more about bugged games which are later patched. Grinsia which seems to be fixed now is a perfect example. I consider a game freezing and unplayable to be low quality. I just hope there will be more focus on not allowing buggy games in the Eshop. Its very frustrating to a gamer who wants to play the buggy game



daveh30 said:


I would have zero problem with buying into a game early and playing early test versions while receiving regular updates. In fact, I've done it before. Some started out rough and got better, some were pretty bad and never got much better than 'playable'. that totally cool, because I knew what I was getting into. Thats to the problem with The Letter. There is no indication in the eShop that this is an early version and that the intent is to finish it with updates. It is presented as a full game. It should be a full game. I honestly blame Nintendo more than the Dev on this one... It should not have gotten through their cert process as a complete game in its current state.



brandonbwii said:

So true about The Letter. Even I go on Miiverse and ask the dev a ton of questions. I guess he's trying to do a beta thing, something not yet supported on Nintendo platforms. I guess he could've made multiple playable demos so we wouldn't have to pay for something so early in development.

As for other NWF based titles, I enjoyed Blok Drop U WAY more than than the reviewer on this site did. It works great as simple time waster and I ended up satisfied after each puzzle.

This is not the same issue as Wii shovelware. Like you said, Nintendo loyalist likely know what they're getting into. If Nintendo should do ANYTHING about shovelware, they should have a seperate list of games listed as under $5 dollars. That would help. I don't feel Nintendo should stop ANY developer from following their dream of releasing titles on their platform. Yes, that includes The Letter.



DefHalan said:

I can see how it made it through, even without the updates you can call it a "finished" game. It starts and functions properly to the end. It is the developer himself who has been talking about the updates, Nintendo is not in charge of the updates. So if you bought it without research then sure you might be upset. I don't understand how The Letter can be used as an example of what is wrong with the eShop as the developer has said what is released is not the final game. I call that unfinished, others call it what they want but that is the gist of it



MegaAdam said:

It's funny, because last generation, the criticisms were all from developers who insisted the Wii Shop and DSi Shop needed to be more open and accessible to small developers.

We can't have it both ways. I would personally love to see only games of some quality make it through, but who is to be the judge?



Tobias95 said:

The letter, after what I have read about sounds like a abysmal piece of crap. Lets pray for not getting an release in Europe.



daveh30 said:

@DefHalan In one post you've used the argument that it is, in fact a finished game, and therefore worthy on inclusion on the eShop, and then turned around and argued that the fact that its an unfinished work in progress buys it some leeway. You can't have it both ways.



DefHalan said:

I said how some could say it is "finished" and by certain standards it could be considered "finished" in my opinion it is not finished. The developer is still adding content. So the game is not finished in my opinion. But I can see where it could be "finished" by other standards, just not mine.



gage_wolf said:

I do think the Quality Control needs to be tightened up on the eShop. It's starting to feel like a testing ground for really green devs to cut their teeth on, and the results thus far have been very underwhelming. The idea of REALLY CHEAP games just isn't appealing, nor do I think it makes sense on a home console. On a phone? Sure, I get it... You want small portable games that don't cost much and don't take up much time. I bought a Wii U to play videogames at length, and I fully acknowledge that it is a luxury purchase. I didn't shell out $350 bucks to play bargain bin amateur games.



IronMan28 said:

Is there a ton of QC at MS and Sony? I doubt there is, considering how much crap is in either of their stores. So, that makes me wonder why Nintendo should really be any different? It isn't like people who have a Wii U can't interact with each other readily and have an idea of what they want to buy anyway, especially since the eShop is so terrible, right? I'm just saying, people are taking QC a little seriously, it isn't Nintendo's responsibility to keep tabs on developers any more than any other purveyor.



rjejr said:

@JaxonH - " Keep this up and I may never need to post again!"

Hey man how's it been?

You do realize your supposed to be the happy camper to my drudgery. These boards are going to be really depressing if you don't step in to refute me.



JaxonH said:


Gravy train man, livin' the dream!

Finally finished Shovel Knight and Armillo, and dived back into Skyward Sword last week. I've called a temporary moratorium on all other games until I finish this one (been meaning to do so since 2011 when the game released, but better late than never I say). After Skyward Sword, time permitting, I would LIKE to re-play Metroid Prime Trilogy (or at least one of them, probably MP2 Echoes) provided it's not late August yet. It's gonna be hard to find time though with Last of Us Remastered hitting next week, and another 2 dozen + games landing between September and November (and a backlog that could easily be mistaken for the Great Wall of China)



joey302 said:

Mandatory eshop demos would solve this problem to a large degree. Every indie game on the 360 that catches my interest I download the demo....if I like the game it's mine....if I don't I delete...very simple....problem once again is Nintendo! I think there are less than 10 Demos on the eshop to sample...terrible set up I think



GreatPlayer said:

@statnut There is nothing wrong with considering which console to buy. But given that it is a short game (8 hours of playthrough time), for the amount of time and energy that you took to think about which buying option you have you can already finish the game.

Sorry but I am not too positive about the game in general as it perfectionizes the old genre game rather than giving anything you have not seen. It is in contrast with the cheaper Armilo, which gives you the experience of Sonic + Pacman in Mario Galaxy World. I would wait for a price drop like $9.99 or even $4.99 a year after for Shovel Knight.



Minotaurgamer said:

Make restrictions to avoid garbage: everybody cries and whines and treat MS/Sony like heroes (Seriously?!)

Lose restrictions to "indie" developers : everybody cries and whines and treat MS/Sony like heroes (seriously?!)

Nintendo: bad if you do and bad if you don't.



Iggly said:

I do believe there should be some Quality Control, but hopefully it's not exactly like the Wii Shop Channel since the whole minimum sales requirement has caused quite some problems even for developers of some pretty good quality games. Though I guess it wouldn't be much of a problem if it were to return since advertising and sales do exist this time around.



DeltaPeng said:

They could always make a sort option by popularity and ratings, then the user would dictate good games and non. If this option was in the eshop, would easily be able to see things like most downloaded, highest rated, highest rated based on most ratings, etc



JustinH said:

One of the big draws of the way consoles work today compared to smartphones, PCs and other platforms is the curation of content. To put it plainly, I don't want stuff like The Letter or Percy's Predicament on console. I understand some people are just starting out. I understand some early efforts get more work put into them. I'm willing to pay more for a premium experience. If I want a cheap game, I'll play something on Steam, or something free online or on a phone.

With that said, I love indies and I think they're the one of the best things about the Wii U right now. I also want the next big underground indie to be on Wii U. I just think there's a minimum amount of effort and quality before a game should be on Wii U, and it isn't always there right now.



Genesaur said:

It's easy enough for me. Stuff that clearly had legit work put into it, like Nano Assault, EDGE, or Shovel Knight, is totally all right.

Garbage like The Letter, Gravity Badgers, or I've Got to Run!... not so good, but very easy to avoid. Simple.



SavoirFaire said:

Apologies if this has been mentioned already, not going to fully catch up on the comments:

Price is what this all comes down to. A bad cheap game is still bad, but at least it is cheap. Therefore harping on bad games should be based on how much they cost, not their sheer existence.
My issue is there is not good segregation on quality except the user rating, which I am sure is only done by a fraction of the purchasers. Compare NES pinball to zen pinball for instance. At a $10 price point for a zen table or package, does the NES pinball rate even a $.99 game? If zen pinball is an 8, what is NES pinball? A 2? I know people may gripe about indies on the eshop, but the VC is mixed into all that, and some of those games I wouldn't consider worth the memory space.

The eshop at some point is going to be too big of a mess to navigate. My only hope is that people are savvy enough to research the games before they buy it. I also hope the MK promotion introduced more people to the eshop. I frankly ignored it for almost the first year of the wii u (granted, I didn't miss much).



SahashraLA said:

To be frank, there's ALWAYS going to be garbage games. Games you'll spend 60-70$ on and despise and free-3$ ones you may always go back to.
And really, every system gets cheap throwaways.
The only difference is the amount of 3rd party retail titles to balance them out.
For every '10' I've seen for, say, Skyward Sword, there are those who swear it is the worst game (not Zelda, but game) ever made.
For every 'Why is this on the eShop?' the Letter gets, there's someone on Miiverse using the price / budget / team size as their excuse why it's a 'good game'.
And for every glowing comment or heap of praise, there's someone who won't play a classic like Shovel Knight because 'this ain't tha 80s'.
My second point is that, simply, some people have no taste OR find something so incredibly personal in a real or imagined sense that even the worst game could seem like a masterpiece.
Leading into my 3rd and final point. Gamers are cheap. Nintendo opened the floodgate on the Wii by offering a venue for garbage to thrive. When the Wii U failed to catch fire, Nintendo created tools to inflate their library. How do you do that..? By giving EVERYONE the chance. And it seems that everyone took it. Not only are games cheap, they're worth less. Not worthless, but there will always be cheap gamers who look at the price first.
When there's no physical box or grand stage to parade about, the games start to blur and the tightest wallet (even digitally) will always go for the cheaper option.
What I would do if I were Nintendo? Post reviews for EVERY game. Surely, some guy at Nintendo isn't that busy. Maybe one of the VC guys. They don't seem to be doing much.



Dragoon04 said:

After making the mistake of buying my farm thinking it would be a nice casual sim I vowed to never buy a download game without first reading a Nintendolife review.
I agree with this article it should be categorized.



SahashraLA said:

The 'curation of content' spoken about is fine for a system with a 7 million unit fanbase, 40 to 60 retail titles and hasn't been out a year. For a system that has a 7 million unit fanbase, 80 to 100 retail titles and has been out for nearly 3x as long?
Nintendo is still in 'desperation mode'. Heck, I'm one of the ones who genuinely thinks Zelda U will be the last major retail title Nintendo releases on a home console. The Seal of Quality was a joke and Nintendo still can't afford to be selective.
How do you REALLY be selective? Honestly, the Wii U isn't powerful enough.
Follow me here guys. If the Wii U was more powerful, dev kits would cost more. If the pricier dev kit was more of a commitment, basement dwelling devs wouldn't have the same platform as the truly devoted ones.
The system would be easier for higher end devs to port to and games like Lego City wouldn't have taken minutes to load, still clipping and popping in / out continuously.
The Wii U expansion pack.
1GB of vRAM, 2GB of system RAM. Have THAT run the Gamepad.
Too much work Nintendo, too expensive? It's that or shelf the Wii U in 18 months.
Have it act like an EXT HDD, continuously connected, but with it's own power supply. You charge 35-50$ for existing owners and start putting it into new systems, say, right around the next expected price drop. You could even toss another proc onto it instead. Or 2. Or 3. You know, something to make it run a bit faster.
It's being done, by a few companies now.
Sure USB 2.0 sucks, but it should be something they're considering.



Sceptic said:

Jeez, caveat emptor. Nintendo is the last company I want making calls on what is a 'good' game and what isn't.

Reviews are more than enough, but I do feel reviews are not taking price into account enough. A $5 game is not to be measured against a $40 one.



HollowGrapeJ said:

@Octane I'm guessing you haven't played very many of the eShop's indie games then. Mighty Switch Force, The Cave, Bit. Trip Runner 2, Little Inferno, etc.



alLabouTandroiD said:

If I could get The Letter for 1€ I’d probably check it out just to see if it really is as bad as everyone says. I know what I’m in for after reading the review after all.

What level of quality is acceptable for a game on a Nintendo home console?

While I’d love if everything you pay money for would be high quality that just will never happen. So as long as I don’t get the impression that the game is unplayable i’m fine with it being released.
What’s really ridiculous is that a game like Tennis costs the same as something like Castlevania though. Tennis doesn’t nearly have as much substance imo. That should be reflected in its price.



Wonky_Kong said:

A good comparison with this is Steam. Steam's QA (quality assurance) is non-existent because Steam have opened the flood gates and allowed anyone who has a kind of publisher to put their game on Steam. This means that in the "most recent" section there are usually just a bunch of shovel ware and good games don't get the coverage they need.

Nintendo meanwhile have a lot less games to QA than Steam, Xbox-Live or PSN, and both XBL and PSN have really good QA. I certainly think the level of QA Nintendo have now is better than with WiiWare. Either way, we as consumers should not buy content without reading a review or watching a gameplay video.



Cathousemaster said:

A couple of points for everyone:

1/ Releasing any game on the eShop is a lot of work. When I say "a lot", I don't mean a few days of overtime 'a lot', its months of solid work. And the worst thing that can happen to a game, is it gets ignored or sells so badly - that the developer walks away forever. And this happens to "good" games... so you can imagine what happens to games that score "1/10".

2/ The Nintendo "Seal of Quality" never censored or blocked games from release. Its all about "technical quality" - they force you through a submission process, and its up to them to approve the title and burn the carts or disks (at least in the old days). This came about when Atari 2600 crashed, because back then any company had the right to manufacture games at all. Like a cross between the PC & console industry. So in short, don't expect Nintendo to ever block a game on "gameplay quality" grounds.

3/ If I was going to offer a solution, its simple: make the default sorting for all titles based on ratings. Higher rated games appear closer to the top, with extra weighting based on number of sales.

Once the 'The Letter' gets over its initial period where it appears on the title screen, its going to fade away into obscurity.

A bigger risk, is by feeding the trolls (and giving titles like this too much easy publicity) - its going to do well, and attract hundreds of similar titles.



Dezzy said:

There's definitely a huge issue with very poor games being accepted onto the various digital storefronts. To be honest, if a game is at a 1/10 quality level, Nintendo should really just reject it. All it's doing is making it harder to find the good games.
On the other hand, I think having a conscious policy of not distinguishing between big developers and indies has been a very important attitude (I assume it started with Steam) in helping the indie market grow. If there's to be any kind of differentiating between games, it should be done in terms of quality rather than price, graphical budget or the reputation of a company.



Kirk said:

This was the fear I had with modern Nintendo and some of it's recent practices and business decisions.

It seems to have forgotten what made Nintendo of the past so brilliant and beloved in the first place.

Sure, it needed to update some of it's more archaic practices and make getting games on it's systems a lot easier but it still needs to maintain a decent level of quality control and just letting any old crap on the system isn't the right way to go.

Nintendo just can't find the right balance at all these days.



Dezzy said:

@sketchturner 'Free market' isn't the correct description for what you're talking about. In a free market, Nintendo are perfectly entitled to say that some games aren't good enough. Free market doesn't mean everything has to get the same opportunities in the context that's controlled by a private company. It just means you should get the same opportunities in a public context.



rjejr said:

@JaxonH - How do you even have time to have a job?

I'm finishing up WW HD by day, or maybe I'm near the beginning, hard to say really, and Tomb Raider (PS3 PS+ rental ed.) at night. Then finally back to Xenoblade. I really want to finish it before XCX comes out.



Caryslan said:

@vamkar Honestly, the Nintendo Seal of Quality was meaningless, even during the NES era. All it bascally meant is that a developer paid Nintendo to allow them to make games on the NES, and there was no questionable content in the game.

Otherwise, the Nintendo Seal of Quality was a cute little marketing tool to convince parents to buy products that only Nintendo allowed.

But for the quality of the game? The seal basically meant nothing. Companies like Acclaim released garbage games on the NES, as did other companies. If the seal was a judge of quality, Acclaim never would have found any success on the NES.



ZenTurtle said:

Really, the WiiU eshop is not bad! Look at Steam, for crying out loud! Every day, games are released. Mobile ports, and 90s games (not even good ones) add to the glut. The Wii and DS libraries were far worse, film tie-in crap... While I'll admit that The Letter was total crap, you've got to take the rough with the smooth, and opening up development is an amazing idea. So calm down. Be thankful that at least the 90s games are fun on WiiU...



Squiggle55 said:

@DefHalan Your defense of The Letter is that it is unfinished. That would be a great defense if someone broke into his house, stole the files off his computer, played what he had, and wrote a review. Do you seriously not see a problem with what he did? You admit yourself nobody else has tried this on a console before. Did you ever wonder if there was a reason for that?



DefHalan said:

I do not have a problem with what the developer is doing just like I don't have a problem with Steam's Early Access program. If you think that because they are asking people to pay that it should be compared to fully finished games then shouldn't most Kickstarter game receive a 0/10 as most do not give the players anything right away for backing? It is the same concept only you get the game right away and get to experience how the game will change throughout the development process. If you don't like The Letter, then that is your opinion and I will not try to change that. I just think it is unfair for Nintendo Life to be using it as an example of how terrible the eShop is/has become when the game isn't finished and the developer is pretty vocal about adding more content.



Anguspuss said:

simple solution wait for review if trash dont buy it.
Seriously how much retail rubbish came out for retail on wii,3ds
& well we used to have the joke of nintendo seal of quality on games that were only fit as a landfill filler



leon_x said:

The whole problem is about the Letter. right?

My recent purchases:

  • Guacamelee: Amazing game.
  • How to survive: It has a really bad review here in Nintendo Life, but I think that is a really fun game.
  • Kung Fu Rabitt: A simple and fun platform game.
  • The Letter: A game that is just broken, but I have bought bad games in others Nintendo consoles for a FULL price. I just bought this game because I was curious about all the bad reputation and hatred. And now I have curiosity about the updates that the developer mentioned.

I prefer to see bad cheap games in online store that see bad games like Petz Sports (wii) for a full price.



MikeLove said:

Just bought The Letter and my biggest complaint is that I can't play it using the Pro Controller!

In all seriousness though, its horrible but I will finish it just to say I did.



kyuubikid213 said:

I don't get why you guys are attacking @DefHalan for defending The Letter. I bought into it because it looked like a dumb game that I would have gotten my $2 worth out of. It's not like it could get any worse with the updates and DLC (which are free, by the way) and it's not like it's a waste of time either.

I understand that it probably shouldn't have been released in the state it was, but on the other hand, this was a failed IndieGoGo campaign that used what money it got to go ahead and put the game out. It's not like they released this and are charging $15 for it. It's also not like Treefall Studios is some big headed developer that thinks they made the greatest game since Super Mario. He knows he made a game that people are playing because of it's reputation. It's bad. It's awful. It's a damn mess, but people are buying it. People are hating it and enjoying it.

I don't want the eShop to change. As it's been noted earlier, we can look up reviews if we are on the fence about buying a game. There are even reviews on the eShop (basic, but still reviews) so you don't even need to go "online". If you let everything in, that's fine. The gamers will decide what's good and what's garbage. Developers that put time and effort into their game may strike a chord no one thought they wanted struck. Developers that release absolute garbage will simply fail.



Squiggle55 said:

@DefHalan The problem with your argument is that it's simply not done on the eshop. There is no early access program for Nintendo. No matter which way you spin it, if the developers intention was to release an incomplete game, which you claim, then people are being tricked, because it simply isn't done on the eshop. No matter how vocal you think the dev is being, anything short of saying in the description on the eshop "Warning: My intention is to release an incomplete game ala early access programs" is not vocal enough. Of course he doesn't say this because it isn't done on Nintendo. How you feel about early access is irrelevant.



DefHalan said:

I have agreed that if you did not do research about the game before purchasing you might feel ripped off. The developer has stated his plan to add content as the game sells more. Just because Nintendo doesn't have a Early Access program doesn't mean it can't have games like this. Maybe it shouldn't but it is a little late for that now. The point is NL is using a game that is known for not being complete as an example for bad games on the eShop. There are other examples, so why use a game that is "unfinished"



JaxonH said:


Sounds like the triple threat right there! Zelda, Tomb Raider and Xenoblade. About as diverse a trilogy of games as you can get huh... That's awesome though. Gotta keep it diverse.

Yeah I don't have much time. Especially because I work 10 hour shifts now and am working 7 days a week. Sometimes I get a Sunday off here and there. I'm being sent to Minneapolis on August 25th-29th for Zeiss training, so that's gonna be a nice, refreshing week (fully paid too, so I have no complaints) of playing handheld games in a hotel room- definitely looking forward to it. That's about as close to a vacation as I'm gonna get.



rjejr said:

@JaxonH - "Zeiss training"

Are you going to learn to fly one of those giant mech robots from Zone of Enders?



ICEknight said:

The easier to get a game into this market, the more fair said market will be in my eyes.

Just don't buy any games without having enough information on them, and point your finger at those who buy bad games so they'll document themselves better next time.



rjejr said:

@JaxonH - "and how to fly in a rocket barrel."

Man, I seriously need one of those classes. Maybe an entire college semester.



Pod said:

There's always been shoddy games on Nintendo systems, but not there's shoddy gmaes with very little content and very little thought put in to it in the first place.
Made by developers sometimes acting as improper commercials for themselves on Miiverse.

I understand Nintendo had to remove all obstacles to get the developers interested in Wii U. ANY developers. But they have gone a bit too far.

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