We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

The Year In Too Many Downloads

by Donald Theriault - January 2, 2023, 8:45 pm EST
Total comments: 10

Or “Nintendo, can I please get my weekends back?”

One of the fun features of the website is that it preserves the Talkback threads in the article proper, basically serving a function of a comment section but with actual moderation. Recently, friend of the site Syrenne took time out from her vacation to dig up this psychopathic comment from a 2010 blog post (yes, we had blogs at one point) by Neal called “This Week In Awful Downloads” and drop it in the Discord:

“I don't want Nintendo doing an XBL or PSN. I want them to rip Steam off wholesale, though - since everything's gratis and focused on just games.

I'd also like the epic sales, but that'll never happen while Nintendo's a publicly traded company.”

And of course, the absolute psychopath who made that post was me. If you want to insert an entire monkey’s paw curling here, I don’t blame you, as twelve years later the eShop has become like Steam. Except back then, Steam actually paid lip service to curation and there weren’t a thousand games going up on the store every week (the post predates Steam Greenlight and Early Access). The original post came from a week that had one WiiWare game and three DSiWare “games”: the quotes are used as one of the releases was from that banger of a DSiWare series called “My Notebook”.

Last year at this time, I posted a column pointing out that there were 1,925 games published on the Switch eShop. I was able to lock in the total number of releases for 2022 on December 31, and the final total for North America this year stood at 2086. For the record, Europe was only four behind by my tracking and Japan had 1641. But let’s drop some facts here from the North American data (all data from a Google sheet so you can check my numbers):

  • The shop averaged 40 releases a week, and if you add a one-day week since January 1 fell on a Saturday, the average drops to 39
  • The 60 game high the week of September 30/21 was trumped by a 66 game week the week of January 20/22
  • There were three weeks of more than 50 games in 2021: it happened twelve times in 2022, including passing the 2021 total in April and a run of 11 weeks that put up 50+ releases eight times
  • 2086 games is more games than the 3DS and Wii U had combined, including delisted games
  • Over the last two years 4111 games have launched on Switch; the combined total of the NES, Super Nintendo, N64, GameCube, and Wii (including WiiWare and Virtual Console releases) is 4264 so we’ll probably pass that by the end of January 2023

I thought the pandemic was supposed to be stalling game development!

But based on how a lot of these games look, that’s only true for major releases. The parade of kusoge was bad in 2021 with publishers such as Pix Arts, but at least they tended to stick to a release a week. The likes of Midnight Works, Cooking and Publishing (who had a game yanked from the eShop for flagrantly ripping off Mini Metro and surprisingly HAVEN’T been banned for it), INSTAMARKETINGANDGAME, Piotr Skalski, VG Games, Benjamin Kistler… if these continue to plop their Unity compiles / plagiarism / games that make The Letter on Wii U look like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 by comparison on the eShop, this number’s only going to go up and I’m going to spend most of my weekends adding profiles to the site for games I wish I could slap the “Cancelled” tag on. I would REALLY like to finish XC3 this year, but it’s kind of hard for me to play action RPGs and type up “Infected run to Survive Zombie Apocalypse Survival Story Shooter Dead Cry” simultaneously. (I swear to Arceus and Naga above, I did not make that up: it launched the last week of December.)

I borrowed the Simpsons quote last year “there are too many Switch publishers, please eliminate thirty, I am not a crackpot”, and got so desperate at some point I literally asked RFN about bringing back the NES-era annual limits on releases. In the end, something pretty drastic has to be done about the lack of quality controls or actual good publishers are going to step away from the platform since their potentially quality product is going to get buried by shovelware and bundles which seemingly only exist to get the game to the top of the eShop. Nintendo, you stopped 99% off sales from clogging up that popular list; maybe it’s time to ban games from having more than two bundles and put the people behind AAA Clock out of business.

And maybe give a bit more than a minute’s notice before major games drop two days before Christmas. Right, Sports Story?

Screenshot image posted by Daan Koopman on Twitter (@NintenDaan)


LemonadeJanuary 03, 2023

What if we went back to the NES era where publishers could only release 5 games or whatever

Sadly that horse has left the barn, the farm, the county, and possibly the country at this point. And even if such a limit existed, it would just mean there'd be 1000 licensed Switch publishers.

Maybe things will change in the Switch's eventual successor, but I am not holding my breath.

KhushrenadaJanuary 04, 2023


I was able to lock in the total number of releases for 2022 on December 31, and the final total for North America this year stood at 2086.

And only half of that number was AAA Clock releases.


maybe it’s time to ban games from having more than two bundles and put the people behind AAA Clock out of business.

Aw nuts. You already got a dig in on them later in the article and spoiled the surprise.

KhushrenadaJanuary 04, 2023


In the end, something pretty drastic has to be done about the lack of quality controls or actual good publishers are going to step away from the platform since their potentially quality product is going to get buried by shovelware and bundles which seemingly only exist to get the game to the top of the eShop.

This came up awhile back on the NWR Discord. Can't remember the full conversation and it could be awhile to go digging back on Discord. (This is is why forums are better. The start of this article further proves it!) However, some indie developer was talking about the eShop and getting sales saying that being in an Indie Direct or having Nintendo market the game on the Switch News Channel didn't really do a lot to get a sales bump going. But putting the game at a steep discount is what got it to climb the sales charts and get noticed by more users. It was pointing out why developers were doing the 0.99 cent strategy at the time and whether the eShop was profitible. I'm not sure what conversations developers may be having about getting visibility on the shop now.

KhushrenadaJanuary 04, 2023

On the other hand, I guess my question is, which quality games are suffering or getting lost in the eShop? Like I may scan new releases once in awhile and laugh at seeing another AAA Clock bundle but I'm not going ever going to buy that AAA Clock bundle so I don't think it's choking out or taking sales from a quality product. When you go to the best selling Download page, it seems like a lot of good quality software does pop up on that chart a lot although, again, price drops will see software ebb and flow. Like the Ori games appearing on the chart during sales but dropping off after the sale is over. Other big hits like Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley have dominated that sales chart for years now. Admittedly, it probably helped those titles that they got into the eShop ecosphere early to establish a name for themselves but it has felt like gamers are staying somewhat aware of quality titles based on what can show up there.

Personally, I've been checking the Deku Deals about once a week for the last 3 or so years to keep track of what's on sale. I run a search under Hottest Deals. That doesn't mean the games are shown from biggest discount to lowest but rather by popularity of title. Now I'm not sure what the breakdown is for popularity. Is it by most commonly searched on the site? By reviews? By user wishlists? However, it does seem to group games so that the quality stuff is shown in the first pages and the lesser stuff in the back. So, if Shantae is on sale, then you'll probably see that game shown within the first couple pages whereas something like Demetrios The Cynical Adventure will probably end up in the last few pages. Right now, when checking the site, there are 30 pages of deals shown with 36 games per page. Chances are high that by the time you've reached the 10th page of deals, you've seen all the good quality stuff that is available on sale and after that it is limited appeal stuff or wastes of time and money.

The result is that over time of checking the site, you start to see quite a few titles listed over and over again in those early beginning pages and you get familiar with what the actual good quality titles are. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to buy a game just because it might be a better overall quality than 95% of the games available on the eShop. For example, Monster Hunter Rise is shown on the first page of Deku Deals for games currently discounted but that game and series just doesn't excite or interest me so it is the equivalent of AAA Clock to me when scanning for games or what's on sale. But it has helped shape my opinion of what's worthwhile on the eShop and informed my wishlist and opened my eyes to new titles to keep an eye on.

KhushrenadaJanuary 04, 2023

The argument, of course, may be that not every Switch user is going to know to do that or be as informed about what's out there. Moreover, why should it be sort of required to have Switch users go to some third party non-Nintendo site to get better navigation for the eShop? Shouldn't Nintendo be doing something like that themselves? Weeeeeeeeeeeeeell, it's not that my e key is stuck but I'm afraid I fall on the side of no.

Let's say that Nintendo were to create a category that they classified as popular titles and would only highlight or include titles that met some mythic criteria of high quality. Now Nintendo is getting involved in the ecosphere and saying to users to focus their attention on these titles or signaling that these are the only titles users should be buying. While not denying the purchase of other titles from the eShop and still having them available for user to see on other pages, how long do you think Nintendo can make that last before other publishers and developers start complaining and challenging the "popular" criteria because their stuff is now being held back or "punished" by the whims of Nintendo? Apple has been going through headaches with its online store trying to launch Apple Arcade to curate better quality titles and also had to deal with the Epic lawsuit awhile ago. The Switch seems to have finally buried and put to rest the long-standing grudge and irrational animosity of many third developers as being unable to succeed on Nintendo or Nintendo's reputation for controlling the market in the late 80s and early 90s. Why risk resurrecting that fear and reputation with all the gains that have been made in these past 6 years? What Nintendo is doing with Indie World directs and some occasional News Channel highlights of select games is probably as far as they want to risk weighing in on the eShop market and directing customers on what to buy.

I gots more to say on this but it will have to wait until tomorrow. It's totes late now and I need to get to bed already.

KhushrenadaJanuary 05, 2023


But let me see if I can get back on track.

KhushrenadaJanuary 05, 2023

Basically, the eShop might not be great for users who feel they have to scroll through pages and pages of quick cash-grab offerings to find games worth their bucks. However, it seems to be working great for Nintendo in that publishers and developers do want to release things on the eShop and don't seem to be slowing down in doing so. I'm not sure how much money is being generated by Switch users or how many games are ultimately being bought through the eShop but I'm thinking Nintendo is happy enough with how things are going that they haven't felt the need to change the way it is currently playing out. It seems to be the "if if ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset.

Ultimately, what else are publishers going to do? The Sony ecosphere does not seem to be gaining much ground or offering much to make the PS4 or PS5 as a place where indie developers can succeed and sell a lot. Xbox / MS is going with their GamePass strategy and while they must offer some form of payment to publishers/developers for adding their titles to the service, it's unclear whether it is financially equal to releasing games on Steam or Switch. But since GamePass doesn't seem to exploding with 2,000+ titles being added to it in a year, that suggests to me that the compensation isn't enough for more game makers choosing to go with GamePass over Steam or the eShop. Heck, MS ended up bringing over the Ori games and Cuphead to Nintendo's eShop so clearly they saw value in allowing games to be sold there rather than limit them to something like GamePass.

Considering how many Apple Arcade games have been slowly shuffling over to the eShop, publishers either aren't content with how much they are getting in that space or want to cover all possible bases for getting some money from their software. Either reason works to Nintendo's benefit. If it is a low risk proposition to port something to Switch to try for a few more sales then it is in the interest of that company to do so. And with the Switch as now the second best highest selling console and on pace to challenge the PS2 for all-time best selling gaming hardware then why would a publisher choose to keep their games from that ecosphere and customer base at this point in time? That's potentially 100,000,000 gamers that you're going to avoid? To hope they'll purchase your software through some other means like Steam or a different console? And while Japan is its own region of unique gaming tastes, last year showed that Switch users are still buying plenty of software for the system. While North America sales are more murky, I'm pretty sure Switch software sales are pretty robust in this market as well. You've got a big selling system with a large userbase that is clearly willing to buy software for their system. You really want to avoid that because you are afraid users may not be able to find your game on the eShop? That's sort of an issue for marketing. Just because you get a store to put an item you are selling on a shelf doesn't mean that customers in the store are suddenly going to know it is there or look for it. You still gotta market the product and that's the same with publishers releasing stuff on the eShop that may have a higher quality product than most other offerings.

KhushrenadaJanuary 05, 2023

But perhaps I digress and go into a direction beyond what this thread and topic started about. I just questioned the idea that good publishers would step away from the platform because yet another Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire game was released it for it. I'd say the problem is currently facing is the one mobile phone gaming soon faced early on after successes of things like Doodle Jump and Angry Birds and it became flooded with quick cash grabs as various publishers sought to take advantage of that market. Ultimately, I don't think that problem has ever really been solved.

Apple Arcade was supposed to help salvage that market but being completely uninvolved in that gaming sphere, I have no idea how that has gone. If it hadn't been for the recent release of Pikmin Bloom, it seemed as though Nintendo themselves had moved on from mobile gaming after briefly dipping their toe in it. Nintendo has never seemed to care for the microtransaction nature of the mobile gaming market but did go that route as it seems to be what those users want and expect of their games. With the eShop, Nintendo can stick with their preferred desire of charging the price they want for a game and pretty much avoiding microtransactions. While Nintendo could seem like an example of a high quality publisher walking away from a market full of junk because their product was potentially getting buried in it, Nintendo's never really seemed to care or fully focus on that market to use as a perfect example.

Yet considering how many other major publishers constantly launch games for mobile gaming only to then shutter or close those games down in a year or less, trying to crack into the mobile gaming market in the hopes of having the next big thing to corner the microtransaction market just seems like a constant dead end for most game makers. Yet, it still hasn't stopped a bunch from trying. Square and Sega seem to love wasting time and money in that pursuit. If "good" or "big" developers haven't abandoned mobile despite their offerings potentially getting buried under all the crap there or not seeing the success they may have banked on then why should the eShop be different and publishers would walk away from there? Frankly, I think it would offer a better return on investment in that you can charge an amount up front for the game on the eShop and have an idea of the number of sales you need to make for that software unlike free to play and hoping you'll be able to get enough microtransactions to make a profit and cover the potential cost of maintenance for the game if it is supposed to add stuff over time.

Despite grumblings from game makers about good product getting lost in mobile gaming's abyss and Apple Arcade's efforts to curate and promote better quality software, to my knowledge, it hasn't stopped the amount of low quality stuff being released on it nor has it had much effect on getting better sales for the more higher quality software. Again, as far as I know, I haven't heard of Apple taking any steps to suddenly prevent publishers from being able to release low-grade stuff on their devices or doing anything more on quality control aside from Apple Arcade or sometimes taking action on games that have been blatant copyright infringement. I suspect that part of the reason is because Apple gets a percentage from software and microtransactions through the Apple Store so at the end of the day, the ecosystem is still making them money and they don't want to disrupt that too much. Might be the same situation with Nintendo and the eShop. If Apple (or Google or Steam) didn't want to clamp down and stop crap product, why must it be that Nintendo has to manage the industry?

KhushrenadaJanuary 05, 2023

I suppose I'll conclude this treatise on the eShop by saying that the current situation does remind me somewhat of the Wii console and the eventual Wall of Shame that became evident after 4 years of the system on the market. The 3rd Party Wall of Shame was a bit misunderstood at the time. People assumed that the point was that all games being released by 3rd parties for the Wii were junk. That was not point. Rather, it was too imagine being a customer looking to buy a game for the Wii and seeing the wall of games to buy looking something like this.


Are there some higher quality games in there? I'd say so. Again, it may also depend on one's gaming taste or what someone may consider higher quality. But how does someone know which is good and which is bad if they are unfamiliar with games or is a gaming fan like users of this website who would be familiar with these titles and reviews of them?

In some ways, scrolling through the eShop when games are on sale or seeing what is new can remind me of scrolling along all these third party Wii games and looking for the better stuff. Back then, third parties had themselves to blame for good software underperforming as they self-sabotaged themselves and buried their own titles under the large amount of shovelware they also threw at the system. At least now, we don't have the ecowaste of all those plastic cases and discs to get rid of rid for the shovelware being released on the eShop. I'd have to think Nintendo is also quite happy that store shelves don't look like that with the Switch and the physical games available for it. That shovelware was used as part of the dumb casual and hardcore gamer division and a way to knock the Wii as being a system that didn't have games worthy of "true" gamers. Now that shovelware for the Switch is kept neatly out of sight on the eShop. While store shelves are still mainly dominated by physical Nintendo games, at least the third party offerings also among them are likely to be more worth playing than the vast majority of the 3rd party games from the Wii era helping maintain the reputation of the Switch as a "system for gamers". Thus, the current eShop is great in those ways when comparing it to the Wii.

Got a news tip? Send it in!