Just one year on, is the Switch already suffering from Steam saturation syndrome?
There’s no denying that 2017 proved that the games industry is more popular than it’s ever been, as much for the developer as it is for the player. Couple this with everyone’s desire to get their indie title on Nintendo’s latest and greatest hybrid console, and an unfortunate side-effect of this was a glut of new titles week over week. While intrinsically a good problem for a platform to have, I can’t help being worried that the Switch eShop is slowly succumbing to what I’ve tentatively taken to calling ‘Steam Saturation Syndrome’.
Of course, it’s commonplace for PC players to need to work to find a new experience. Already it was reported that more games were released on Steam last year than its entire history prior to 2017, making it increasingly harder for indies to get noticed on Valve’s digital store shelf. Part of me would like to thing that this issue will be ironed out die to a ‘survival of the fittest’ process of elimination, but it still doesn’t render Steam any less crowded. With an average of 5-8 games minimum releasing on the Switch eShop each week, how long will it be before Nintendo faces similar searchability problems?
It doesn’t help that, at present, the Nintendo Switch eShop suffers from a fairly basic and bare-bones UI. What should entice and excite upon loading it up on your screen every time, instead looks rather bland. There’s a nice touch in that every time you click on a game to check it out, the background colours change to reflect the mood, atmosphere, and sometimes style of the title you’re viewing. Beyond this however, all of the games can blur into one, and just to even search for a game you have to scroll down the ‘recently released’ section of the store.
Are these all nitpicky complaints? Sure. So far, not even a year following the release of the Switch, Nintendo has done a cracking job with the system. I only wish they’d pay more attention to how they go about getting the games seen. Every title deserves a fair chancing at winning our well-earned coin however derivative, but at the rate digital games are released, it’s becoming evident that this isn’t a priority.
Throughout the last generation, the Japanese company were infamous sticklers about what they chose to promote on their store. It seems to me that this level of meticulous curation wouldn’t go amiss once again as they continue to win over gamer’s hearts, especially as we edge ever closer to a subscription-based online service. Is Nintendo suffering from ‘Steam Saturation Syndrome’? Not yet. But perhaps soon if they’re not careful.