The Switch eShop seems to be going from strength to strength in recent weeks and months. After a first few months of curation - as declared by Nintendo in a pre-launch Nindies Showcase - the shackles have come off and more developers have been able to release content on the store. Yes, there's been a little bit of dross and games that would never get through any kind of actual curation, but there's also been a dramatic influx of enticing and exciting games.
We're also getting to the point where pretty much every week has a number of new titles to consider, mostly intriguing with an occasional 'not in a million years' bit of shovelware. The majority of new arrivals are worth a look, but with this flood of content the limitations of the system's eShop are coming to bear. Consider this - including retail games the most recent download update in North America had 17 new Switch games, 14 of them arriving on the usual Thursday. Now here's another thing to consider - the 'New Releases' area of the Switch eShop only has room for 24 game listings; two busy weeks could see games dropping off the main screen after 7 days on the market.
Nintendo's made some modest adjustments to the Switch eShop, including the 'View More' button at the bottom of the Recent Releases section, but it's still barebones. We have Charts, Coming Soon and Redeem Code, while tapping your account icon at the top right allows you to check your Watch List, add funds and redownload software. There's also the basic search option, with a few optional filters. The core look has stayed the same - it's clean and fast, with windows that rapidly open up to game pages with screens and trailers, but it's also simplistic.
We've banged this drum before, but the rapid growth of the Switch eShop library is making the layout look a little stretched. The 3DS eShop has categories and themed areas, and the Wii U eShop has clear categories and similar themed sections; the last-gen home console's store is pretty appealing, actually, albeit functionally rather slow. The Switch eShop lacks the flexibility and browsing assistance offered on pretty much any other download game store: go to PSN, Steam, mobile app stores etc - the quality of layout varies, but there are plenty of categories to help you find what you want.
Right now there's no easy way to browse games that are on discount on the Switch eShop, which is starting to become an issue as some of the earlier games get promotions. There's no demo category that's easily accessed, so you have to hunt around game pages or literally search for 'demo' and hope all of them are shown. There are no themed or regularly updated categories to showcase content, like platformers, puzzle games, action games and so on. It doesn't provide recommendations after assessing your purchase history. These are all things that other stores - including the other eShops, Google Play, iOS, Steam etc - do to varying degrees.
In the first few months the simple layout was understandable, but it feels like now would be a good time for a shake up in the design. Developers have, pleasingly, been singing the praises of the Switch and saying that its eShop has brought them their best sales. Yet that's no cause for complacency, and let's be real enough to say that getting in early on the eShop was a big advantage. It's now getting busier, and the competition stiffer.
So we think the experience for gamers could be better, and think visibility for games - especially anything released more than two weeks ago - could be much better for the publishers / developers. Nintendo seems to rely upon the 'News' channel to point players to discounts and so on, but the eShop can nevertheless play its part as a more exciting storefront. We're in the weird position where the Switch eShop has an increasingly top-notch library and is red hot right now, but is arguably outshone by its 3DS and Wii U counterparts in terms of visual design and functionality.
Well, do you agree? Would an overhaul of the Switch eShop take it to another level, or is it just fine the way it is? Let us know what you think in the polls and comments below.