Two years after the release of the Switch, it’s time for Nintendo to look into adding some features to improve the user interface and experience of their console. Despite selling over 9 million units, the interface and overall design have seen little adjustment since launch and the menu, news, and eShop tabs are essentially the same.
With the easy implementation of updates and semi-open channels of communication with players, Nintendo has plenty of room for improvement with the future of their software as they begin looking (possibly) towards advances in hardware.
Perhaps the easiest way to improve the overall user experience would be to add folders to the Switch home menu. By now, even the most casual Nintendo Switch owners have played enough games to fill up their “recent” feed and cause some overflow into their library.
To mitigate this problem, Nintendo could carry over the “folder” concept that was implemented on the Nintendo 3DS to allow for users to organize games into logical patterns based on genre or category. This can streamline the library system and give players a greater understanding of the games that they own, offering a stronger feeling of connection between console and titles to encouraging further purchases.
Nintendo also could improve user experience by adding theme options to the menu to allow for greater personalization options for Switch players. While this could initially consist of just simple palette swaps for the icons and background of the Switch home screen, this could be expanded to be similar to the theme rollout for the New 3DS portable console.
Like the handheld, these themes could incorporate the music and iconography of Nintendo’s beloved first party IP’s at a minimal price, allowing players to bring their favorite franchises to the home screen. This could also offer promotional benefits and give the company the ability to market new titles to further drive sales.
That being said, themes were introduced three years into the 3DS’ lifespan and unveiled with the New 3DS hardware, so Nintendo may be waiting for a Switch hardware update to pair with this upgrade in user interface. As a result, players may have another year or more to wait before this possibility becomes a reality.
Nintendo could also see a benefit in overhauling the eShop software, improving the overall user interface to allow for ease of access and more streamlined usage. Similarly to the Wii, the Switch has seen massive increases in “shovelware” style third-party titles because of its bestselling status, making its shop incredibly hard to navigate. When the console was first released, the slow publishing of games made the eShop easy to shift through but a modern release schedule makes it hard to keep up.
Nintendo could increase the power of the search function and add additional genre tabs to connect players quicker to the titles that they would enjoy. With stronger filtering effects and more menu options, the interface would encourage fans to search more thoroughly and ultimately spend more time shopping on the platform. This would even improve the overall “deals” page of the site and help connect bargain shoppers to the sales that they want.
Although Nintendo has always been opposed to it, adding a rating system could allow players to mentally filter through the unnecessary titles and help find the hidden gems that would otherwise get buried. Without a rating system, every title seems like it has the same merit and can create wariness among curious shoppers. Of course, adding such a system opens the option for internet trolls to rating bomb titles that don’t appeal to them, but adding a “verified purchase” option could mitigate potential issues.
Quality of Life Applications
Two years into the life cycle of the Switch and Nintendo still doesn’t have the quality of life apps that would make the console a “go to” for modern players. Without streaming platforms and a quality Youtube browser, players will need to own an additional smart device to watch content on their home system. Ultimately, this means less time spent interacting with the Switch and more time transitioning between consoles, reducing the connection that players feel with an all-in-one home console.
The Switch could also benefit from incorporating the quality of life apps that were a minor corporate focus on the Wii and Wii U. Satoru Iwata, a champion of the genre at Nintendo Japan, believed that these program enriched the lives of players and created a more positive and well-rounded console experience. Perhaps adding a pedometer function, activity app, or an alarm clock would allow the console to become a greater part of owners’ daily lives and encourage more frequent usage.
Overall, the Switch is an amazing console, but there is always room for improvement. As Nintendo inevitably looks towards the future of the Switch hardware, they will also adjust some of the longstanding user interface features as well to create a greater connection with consumers and provide a better overall experience. While the lasting success of consoles is always about first party support, but it’s also dependent on user attachment, so encouraging players to spend more time on the device by improving their experience should be in the Forefront of research and development.