“The eShop is just way too slow” – Deku Deals Creator on the Nintendo Switch storefront
During the holidays we repost some of our best reports, interviews, opinion pieces and talking points from the past 12 months. staff and contributors – articles which we believe represent our best of 2021. Here you will find our usual mix of thoughtfulness, frivolity, retro skill, nostalgia for the game and, of course, enthusiasm for all things Nintendo. Enjoy!
Most fans would agree that the current Nintendo eShop for Switch could take some work. Of course, this serves its purpose well from a purely transactional standpoint, but there are glaring issues at the heart of it. The layout makes it difficult to navigate and find new, interesting titles. User reviews were a feature, until Nintendo decided the eShop was better without them. Worst of all, there is no groovy music. The company was never fully aware of its online offerings, but even considering that the sheer number of games on the system is bound to create discoverability issues, it would be hard to argue that its latest iteration of the eShop is also its biggest.
Lucky for us, that doesn’t mean digital buyers have to suffer for the duration of this generation. A fan named Michael Fairley has decided to step in where Nintendo won’t and create an extremely useful site to help Switch owners find the best prices for the games and hardware they want. Deku Deals has become the undisputed gold standard for finding Nintendo Switch purchases, so we thought we would speak with Michael to discuss his site more at length and pick his brains out regarding Nintendo’s own efforts in the Nintendo Switch space. digital showcase.
Nintendo Life: First of all, can you take a few moments to introduce yourself?
Salvation! I am Michael fairley, and I’ve been running Deku Deals as an individual project since 2018. I live in Seattle, Washington, and have been a professional software developer for a decade. In my spare time, I like to play video games, listen to podcasts, read books, and write code.
How did you experience managing Deku Deals?
Running Deku Deals is both one of the most rewarding and difficult things I have ever done. Some days I’m really proud of everything I’ve accomplished with the site. Other days I look at my to-do list and feel overwhelmed. But in general, I like to solve complex problems, and the users of the site always push me forward, so let’s call it a net-positive.
If so, what unforeseen challenges surprised you?
Dealing with complex / messy data is one of the more complicated parts of running Deku Deals. Some examples: A game with “2” in its name may be listed at some retailers with “II” or “Two” instead; there may be different versions of the same game in different regions – sometimes with slightly different release dates or names; and in one case, there are actually two completely different games that have the exact same name. I had to work a lot to get my automated tools to handle these types of situations (when I would much prefer to spend my time creating features for users).
How does the current state of the site differ from or align with your original vision?
When I first launched the site, it focused only on the few features that I personally wanted, namely wishlists and offer notifications for Switch games. Some of the main ways it has grown beyond is all the search and recommendation tools to find new games, being able to track the collection of games you own, and recent additions from PlayStation and Xbox.
How has the community response affected your development plans for Deku Deals?
The requests from Deku Deals users have had a huge impact on the site! It turns out that people have a lot of different preferences on how they buy video games. For example, some people never want to deal with cartridges and prefer to buy only digital versions of games, while others are very interested in having a collection of games on their shelf and only want to buy physical copies … so I added options to filter the whole site by format. Likewise, children tend to have a lot of free time but not a lot of money, which inspired the Get moving for your dough section on the site.
The most important thing the eShop needs to be discovered is to customize the games it recommends based on the games you’ve played and put on your wishlist.
What are the features most requested by users of your site that you have not yet seen implemented in the eShop?
The most important thing the eShop needs to be discovered is to customize the games it recommends based on the games you’ve played and put on your wishlist. Steam does this very well; Everyone’s Steam homepage is completely different and it guides you very well to the games that you are probably interested in. In contrast, the Switch eShop shows everyone the same categories, with the same games, in the same order.
How do you think Nintendo could improve the interface and usability of its eShop?
From a usability perspective, the eShop is just too slow. Pages take a lot longer to load than they should, and even animations perform poorly. It’s also a bit silly that putting the console to sleep while the eShop is open will usually close it with an error message the next time you turn on the console.
Why do you think Nintendo doesn’t iterate much about the design or functionality of its store?
I think there are several different reasons. 1) It’s not in their company’s DNA. Nintendo’s online services have never been amazing. And it looks like Nintendo is aiming to release the best thing it can, but not iterating and improving on it after the fact. 2) The various regional Nintendo branches operate independently. Each of them runs their own website and there are completely different ways to browse online games for North America, Europe, and Japan, which are all completely separate from the eShop app on the console itself. This likely leads to shared attention, duplicated effort, and siled data, preventing them from delivering a unified and amazing shopping experience.
I think it’s important for Deku Deals to continue to perform well, to have accurate data and to be user-friendly, so that people keep wanting to use it.
What new features or changes are you working on?
Adding PlayStation and Xbox to the site took six months of work. During that time, a lot of things got broken, and I didn’t prioritize fixing bugs or maintaining the site. So I’m taking a little time to do it now. I think it’s important for Deku Deals to continue to perform well, to have accurate data and to be user-friendly, so that people keep wanting to use it. I have a few new features in the works that should be ready in the next few months, but nothing that I’m ready to announce publicly just yet.
What do you think of expanding the site’s development beyond a one-man operation?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Deku Deals is my baby that I put a lot of love and effort into. At the same time, the site would definitely benefit from more people working on it, especially people with different skills than mine. It will probably happen someday, but I’m still not sure how and when I want to make this transition.
Last question: what games have you played lately?
Metroid Dread – I love the Metroid series, its flaws and everything. Death Stranding – I recently got my very first PlayStation and am working through the best of PS exclusives. Echoes of the eye DLC for Outer Wilds – one of my all-time favorite games (not to be confused with Outer Worlds!)
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer our questions – you can follow him on Twitter @michaelfairley. Make sure to visit Deku Deals and give it a try too; it will both save you money and spend more money than you ever thought possible.