Over the holidays, we are re-posting some of our best articles, interviews, opinions, and talking points from the previous 12 months. from both employees and participants – Articles that we think represent our best of 2021. In them you will find our usual mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity and retro. expertise, nostalgia for games and, of course, enthusiasm for everything related to Nintendo. Enjoy!
Most fans will agree that the current Nintendo Store for Switch is workable. Sure, it serves its purpose well from a purely transactional perspective, but there are some glaring problems at its core. The layout makes it difficult to just accidentally look through and find new interesting titles. Previously, user reviews were a feature until Nintendo decided an online store would be better off without them. The worst part is not catchy music… The company was never fully aware of its online offerings, but even with the fact that the sheer number of games on the system inevitably creates detection problems, it would be difficult to argue that its latest iteration of an e-commerce site is also its greatest.
Luckily for us, that doesn’t mean digital shoppers have to suffer for this entire generation. A fan named Michael Fairley decided to go further than Nintendo and created an impressively 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 researching any Nintendo Switch purchases, so we thought we’d speak with Michael to discuss his site in more depth and reflect on Nintendo’s own digital storefront efforts.
Nintendo Life: First, could you introduce yourself?
Hey! I am Michael Fairleyand I have been running Deku Deals as a personal project since 2018. I live in Seattle, Washington and have been a professional software developer for the past ten years. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, listening to podcasts, reading books and writing code.
What was your experience with Deku Deals?
Running Deku Deals is at the same time one of the most rewarding and challenging things I’ve ever done. Sometimes I am really proud of everything I have achieved with this site. On other days, I just look at my to-do list and feel overwhelmed. But in general, I like solving complex problems, and site users always support me, so let’s call it positive.
If so, what unexpected problems surprised you?
Dealing with complex / messy data is one of the hardest parts of Deku Deals. Some examples: a game with a “2” in the title may be listed in some stores with a “II” or “Two”; different regions may have different versions of the same game – sometimes with slightly different release dates or titles; and in one case there are actually two completely different games with the same names. I’ve had to put in a lot of effort to get my automated tools to handle situations like this (where I’d rather spend my time building user-centric functionality).
How is the current state of the site different or consistent with your original vision?
When I first launched the site, it only focused on a few features that I personally need, namely wishlists and deal notifications for Switch games. Some of the main ways to expand it are all the search and recommendation tools for finding new games, the ability to keep track of the collection of games you own, and the recent additions of PlayStation and Xbox.
How has the community’s reaction influenced your development plans for Deku Deals?
Inquiries from Deku Deals users have had a huge impact on the site! It turns out that people have many different preferences about 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 everything site by format. Likewise, children tend to have a lot of free time but not a lot of money, which inspired Explosion for money section on the site.
The most important thing an online store needs to discover is to personalize the games it recommends based on the games you have played and that you have listed on your wishlist.
What features that you have not yet seen in an online store have been most requested by users of your site?
The most important thing an online store needs to discover is to personalize the games it recommends based on the games you have played and that you have listed on your wishlist. Steam does this really well; The Steam home page looks completely different for everyone, and it is a great way to guide you to the games you might be interested in. In contrast, Switch eShop simply 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 the online store?
In terms of usability, the online store is too slow. Pages take a lot longer to load than they should, and even the animation doesn’t work well. It’s also a little funny that putting the console into hibernation when the online store is open usually causes it to close with an error message the next time the console is turned on.
Why do you think Nintendo isn’t changing the design or features of its store very much?
I think there are several different reasons. 1) It’s not in the DNA of their company. Nintendo’s online services have never been amazing. And it looks like Nintendo strives to release the best it can, but then doesn’t refine or improve it after the fact. 2) The various regional divisions of Nintendo operate independently. They each have their own websites, and there are completely different ways to browse games online for North America, Europe, and Japanwhich are completely separate from the eShop app on the console itself. This will likely lead to divisions of focus, duplication of effort, and siled data, preventing them from creating an amazing unified shopping experience.
I think it is important that Deku Deals continues to run smoothly, have accurate data and be user-friendly so that people continue to use it.
What new features or changes are you working on?
Adding the PlayStation and Xbox to the site took a full six months. During this time, a lot of things broke, and I did not give high priority to fixing errors or maintaining the site. So I need time to do it now. I think it is important that Deku Deals continues to run smoothly, have accurate data and be user-friendly so that people continue to use it. I have some new features that should be ready in the next few months, but I’m not ready to publicly announce them yet.
What do you think of extending website development beyond one person?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Deku Deals is my brainchild, into which I put a lot of love and effort. At the same time, the site would definitely benefit if more people worked on it, especially people with different skills than mine. Maybe someday this will happen, but I’m still not entirely 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, flaws and all. Death stranding – I recently got my first PlayStation and am currently working on the best PS exclusives. Echo of the eye DLC for Outer Wilds – one of my all-time favorite games (not to be confused with Outer Worlds!)
We thank Michael for taking the time to answer our questions – you can follow him on Twitter. @michaelfairley… Be sure to visit Deku Deals try it too; it will make you both save and spend more money than you ever thought.