On June 6 Nintendo pushed out its e-Shop update to all 3DS owners with connected devices. From head to toe, this is a more streamlined digital marketplace than the one featured on the 3DS’ predecessor. But while there’s a lot of good, rational stuff in the e-Shop, the marketplace as a whole still doesn’t stack up well against the App Store.

The App Store, whether you love or hate its bulkiness and constant deluge of releases large and small and bad or good, is a better experience. Tools like “What’s Hot,” “Staff Favorites,” and “New and Noteworthy” do an acceptable job at pointing at the next big thing. Its search is simple, sharp, and intuitive and its genre or hook-based splash pages are often valid little storefronts themselves.

To its credit, the e-Shop has similar tools, but they’re all contained within a blade-based UI that is, already, cumbersome and flooded to the extent that it’s hard to find the good or the unique in the store. For example, Plants vs. Zombies [$2.99 / HD] is available now, but where is it? This is a fantastic joint on the DS platform as well and it’s sadly not being featured in the front of the store or in an easily discoverable place, as it should be.

Oh wait -- it’s tucked beyond all the first-party releases, which conveniently for Nintendo, are all featured prominently at the front of the e-Shop.

The e-Shop has a “Staff Pick of the Week.” This week it’s Cave Story. Behind this listing a few panels back there’s a “Charts” category, as well as a “Recent Arrivals.” To the right is a mess of featured games followed by a senseless “Games Shown at E3” category.

Finally, after this, there’s the “Virtual Console” category and a mess of genre-based or non-specific listings. “Puzzle Games” and “Card Games” make sense, but then there’s the “2-Player Games” category, “4-Player Games,” the “Essential Games” listing and so on, which are all choked with a mishmash of releases. PVZ is in this latter category.

All of these blades give consumers more options to look through and further breakdowns, which if anything, is better than what the DSi offered. There’s also a welcome search bar at the bottom of the screen... but you have to know what’s out to find it.

Nintendo has ditched the points contrivance. Now, games cost real money and not Nintendo Banana Dollars which you get in exchange for real currency. Also, it looks like developers will have a lot more control over price points; I'm noting quite a few $1.99 downloads.

Those are cool changes, but I think the e-Shop needs work. It needs better, more concise categorization. It also needs to dump the blade interface in favor of something that uses both screens on the device. Right now, the bottom screen is the only one that reveals meaningful data. That’s a waste of screen real estate. I’d also like to see the first-party marketing stuff take a hike; “Games of E3” and “3DS Games Coming Soon” are taking up precious space that could be used for more categorization.

The mouse and keyboard interface of the App Store will always be better. I get that. But the e-Shop is just two days old and has, maybe, just over three hundred releases that are already hard to find. What’s this going to be like six months from now?

The existence of some of these more streamlined e-Shop features indicated that Nintendo is listening to consumer feedback. I just wonder if it’ll keep listening, or if we’ll need to wait until the next handheld to find the downloadable games we all want to play.

On a related note, the e-Shop is offering a "3D Classic" version of Excitebike free of charge until late this July. It’s the original 2D and with the 3D slider, you can change the perspective of the background. It tilts. You can find this at the front of the store. The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening DX is also available for purchase. It's an awesome game and it continues to look and play great on the 3DS. This is also at the front of the store.

  • Anonymous

    "The Nintendo 3DS e-Shop Is Out, Doesn't Yet Stack Up to the App Store"

    I wanted to say, give it time but there's honestly no excuse.  When Nintendo launched the DSi store I let the terrible UI and sort system slide because it was a new market place.  But this is their second eShop...I was really expecting them to launch with a more intuitive virtual game store.  Ah well.

  • TheTheory

    "it’s tucked beyond all the first-party releases, which conveniently for
    Nintendo, are all featured prominently at the front of the e-Shop."

    Sadly, I don't find this too surprising. Just a part of what happens when the same parent company develops the console/system, develops games, and makes the e-Shop. If Nintendo opened a physical store they'd be putting first-party releases in a more prominent location than the third-party releases.

    I don't use any console app store--does Sony and Microsoft have a similar bias with their online stores?

    • Djmidway

      They have a store called the Nintendo World store, so they do have a physical store, and Third parties are easy to find.  I found the Nintendo store much easier to find things and use than the app store.  It was so clutter and the ticker was nice.  It didn't have much from the DSi stuff that was my only disappointment.

      • TOMNfoeiwf

        It was SO hard to navigate! There are like 10 different sections with titles like "Games with Aliens!" which would be cute, interesting, still not actually helpful....if there were actual categories too!  Separating the $2 "Go!" series would have helped, except some of the titles happened to be under "Wacky games with fish that start with an R!!!11"

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13804466 Max Hann

    I have to say, I like most of the bizarre categories on the front page (and the 3D trailers in the E3 section are awesome) but I do agree that they need to supplement it with more obvious access to standard categories. There is actually a pretty robust set of filters, hidden off under the "Search" square, which lets you select a genre or a price point or whatever and then browse all the games that match. That should be made more prominent, since I assumed at first that it was redundant to the search bar, when it's actually completely different. I was also surprised at the number of DSi games on there that aren't in ANY of the front-page spotlight categories.

  • Andy C

    I don't own a 3DS yet, but even I know that Shantae: Risky's Revenge should be on the front page.

  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    Yeah, the Wii store always sucked madd donkey balls. It's a pain in the ass to find what you were looking for UI-wise, and also content-wise it just wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be.

  • http://twitter.com/h1dd3n_m0nk h1dd3n_m0nk

    I like and plan on getting a 3DS (especially now that Ocarina of Time is batting down the hatches) but let's be honest: for the people saying they're disappointed in the eShop, come on now. If you really expected some bombastic, world-changing app store from Nintendo, well...that's your fault and should've known better than that. It's fine to have hope but we've also have to stay steeped in reality. And touchArcade running the headline that the eShop doesn't stack up to the iOS App Store yet...really? I guess they need a headline but that's like comparing a domesticated house cat to a bloodthirsty jaguar. And we (should) all know between the eShop and App Store who is the cat and the jaguar...
    @h1dd3n_m0nk

    • Anonymous

      iOS Appstore is definitely the jaguar!

      • Stevenmilligan

        Really? I would say it's the house cat because Apple has definitely domesticated it. ;)

      • Anonymous

        I disagree. The 3DS store is the jaguar. The Atari Jaguar, specifically.

    • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

      So we shouldn't expect a quality storefront from a very capable company? That's OUR fault? And you reference reality? You are so out of touch that it made me chuckle at you.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        Yeah. This is a video game company compared to the biggest tech company on the planet.

  • Guest

    So... you're comparing the 3DS store which JUST came out to the App Store which has been around for years? Heh. Typical fanboys. I thought this site was meant for iOS devices. I don't see the word "Nintendo" anywhere else on here. E-Shop = games. The App Store is not meant for games lol.

    • http://profiles.google.com/3rdxlucky Don Hues

      erm, the Nintendo store for the Wii/DSi has been around for years and really, its sucked.  You'd think they would have learned a bit from that...

      and as far as the app store not being for games, all I can say is wow...talk about fanboy comments...

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        Yeah, I'm pretty sure Nintendo has always sucked at anything online. Amazingly, Apple now has the most popular online gaming service with 50M users (GameCenter), and Xbox Live has 30M users. 

        I'm guessing the Wii is around 10M?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001703403928 Lily Chen

        This is a really misguiding post! I'll agree about nintendo having bad online service but apple having the most popular online gaming service ? 

        Those are 50 M users of Apple devices , its not the actual users of the Game Center. Also the gaming center isn't an online gaming platform per-say . It pretty basic "I got this achievement/High score, WOOT " sort of thing. Anyway I would reckon about 30M active users is a proper number hereThe xbox figures are twisted as well cause Xbox Live is a paid service with bigger capabilities then apple online service ,actually all the game center does online the xbox does at basic silver membership or offline .Now The xbox360 sold 55 M units world wide( I normally say about 5M are repurchase due to RROD or some other stuff) so that 50 M users enjoying the same stuff offline :)And finally , the most important clause ( hence the fallowing caps), YOU HAVEN'T INCLUDED STEAM. Steam has all of the game center capabilities and then some .We don't have the numbers ( as steam rarely release them) but the last time they told us ( oct 2010) the head count was over 30M ACTIVE USERS, which means 30 million users that login every now and then and play . Now its been about 9 months so I reckon its about 45 M now  .

        So please stop with this nonsense claims of yours ( In my eyes Steam is also the best gaming store but that's a matte of personal taste)

    • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

      You're obviously a fanboy. Only fanboys call people fanboys.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      App Store is not meant for games? Check again genius. 60-70% of sales are games. App Store has 500k apps so about 350,000 games. Hurry up Nintendo.

      • Royce

        I think you're misunderstanding those numbers. Just because a certain percentage of AppStore sales are games doesn't mean that same percentage of apps are games. It just means games sell more copies. The only information I can find indicates the games category is slightly more populated than the books category with maybe 60,000 games or so in the AppStore.

      • Djmidway

        And 10 of those don't suck.  The Apple App store is cumbersome and overwhelming.  I have used a couple times but couldn't find what I was looking for a  VOIP app that works with Google Voice. Or music Apps I want. Sorry the App store and the game center sucks, worse than the Android store even, which is also cluttered.

      • Anonymous

        350,000... I'm anyone that visits Touch Arcade will tell less than 100 of those are any good.

        Quantity isn't synonymous with quality. Just Nintendo's first party are worth it to name Nintendo "Developer of the Year" for 20 years in a row. Any Nintendo console is worth it ust for their games alone, and third party always launch gems on Nintendo consoles.

    • A Person

      Totally agree.  Comparing the two is just one more way Apple fans can diss other companies.  I have nothing against Apple but comparing them to Nintendo is like comparing Legos to Computers.

  • Deepmist

    No streaming video in US, terrible UI, terrible purchase flow.  $6.99 for a 13 year old gameboy game?  Are you freakin serious?  I could have bought the cartridge for 5 bucks in 1999.

    • BlindsideDork

      Technically it is GameBoy Color but that is besides the point. You are paying for legit convenience with the title, aka not pirating. Were you planning to buy it though?

    • Tino

      But now it's got quick saves!

    • http://twitter.com/Tmdean Tim Dean

      Yeah, but it's a 13 year old gameboy game that's superior to any game in App Store.

    • Djmidway

      Video is coming soon (possibly the end of the month), this was just the first update of many.

    • http://twitter.com/Ax23000 Matt Lindquist

      I've been having more fun with that 13 year old game than I've had with games that cost 60$.  It's a brilliantly designed game, age doesn't change that.

  • BlindsideDork

    "Also, it looks like developers will have a lot more control over price points; I'm noting quite a few $1.99 downloads."
    Those $1.99 downloads are just the previously released DSiWare 200 point games. DSiWare games had a point range of 200-800 with one or two more expensive suggestions.

  • StoRmX

    waouu... Very impressive... Am I really watching a Iphone/Ipod Touch video game trailer ?... It's hard to believe ^^

  • http://twitter.com/bta_man BTA

    The "Games shown at E3" category is full of 3D trailers, some of which weren't even shown at their press conference in 2D. It's really nice, and not a waste of space at all. That being said, I do agree with most of your comments about the store's design.

  • Tino

    My favorite part?  Buying $10 in credit on the store, then not being able to buy cave story, priced at $9.99, due to sales tax.

    Thanks, I liked points better.

    Oh, also, 300 releases on the e-shop?  Damn, what e-shop were you looking at?  Mine had maybe 20.

  • Jim

    What's with the lowercase e prefix? Is this 2002?

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      It's from Japan so everything is 10 years out of date.. They still use Walkmans over there.

      • Royce

        Is this sarcasm or do you really believe that? Japan is the world leader in scientific and technological research and development. They are easily a decade ahead of, not behind, the hillbilly nation that is Apple's home ;)

      • Robotwars

        10 Years eh? Got a source for that number? You also must have been extremely offended by such a simple comment from him that you felt the need to insult an entire nation by deducing it to a cliched term such as "hillbilly". You may want to visit the part of California where Apple is located and retract your ridiculous statement before looking like a foolish clown in the future.

    • Jam

      A lowercase i is cooler than a lowercase e?  Kool-aid...

  • Relytgninroht

    I didn't think it was bad at all. It's fast, it has a lot of detail about each game (ratings, pictures, videos, descriptions), and it has a cool interface. The interface could be cleaned up a little, but it's not bad. As for finding games/apps, I have had a hard time finding specific ones on several digital stores including the AppStore. In my opinion, nobody has created the perfect store yet.

  • Keith Longwood

    Are you mentally challenged? It's really not that difficult to find things as you make out. Why criticise that Nintendo features first party software up front of the store, of course they would, exactly like Apple does in the AppStore. 

    FYI Plants v Zombies is featured clearly in DSI Ware picks. 

    You Moron Fanboy, I love Apple as much as the next guy here, seriously though stop your bitching and find something better for your time.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    The cool thing about Nintendo eShop, is, in typically Japanese fashion, it sounds very adorable. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but its freakin' cute as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    The cool thing about Nintendo eShop, is, in typically Japanese fashion, it sounds very adorable. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but its freakin' cute as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    The cool thing about Nintendo eShop, is, in typically Japanese fashion, it sounds very adorable. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but its freakin' cute as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    The cool thing about Nintendo eShop, is, in typically Japanese fashion, it sounds very adorable. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but its freakin' cute as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    The cool thing about Nintendo eShop, is, in typically Japanese fashion, it sounds very adorable. Maybe I'm just nostalgic, but its freakin' cute as hell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregglesaurus Gregory R. Baker

    Something I've noticed about Nintendo lately that I like is that in their marketing, they don't try and make themselves better by slamming their competitors. :) They just do what they do. I could be wrong, but that's what I've noticed lately.

    Seriously - is it really that important for an iOS gaming site to be constantly checking out the competition to make sure they're still better? Isn't that kinda insecure?

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregglesaurus Gregory R. Baker

      Oh, and I know this site isn't run by Apple as their marketing, but you get the idea. Stop all the Nintendo hating, please. And all the anything other than Apple hating. :p

  • The Truth

    wow so you're saying an online store that opened two days ago, isn't backed by a giant corporation and isn't the main distribution method for its platform is WORSE than the app store? mind blown.

    furthermore, it's always good to see an ios gaming blog cover topics that are tangentially related to ios gaming at best. let's hear it for diversity!

    • Tino

      Let's here it for the little guys, like Nintendo!

  • Kobeskillz

    What's the point of this article besides bashing Nintendo? Gesh get a life Touch Arcade.

  • Booey

    I like the eShop because it has one thing the App Store won't have... NINTENDO GAMES

  • Mgs2ss

    Ah, yet another of TA's usualy biased, garbage Nintendo articles.  Always good for a laugh.

  • Doctorossi

    "Doesn't Yet Stack Up to the App Store"

    Did you expect it to on the first day?!

    • red

      agreed

  • LC

    If I wanted to play lackluster flash games, then yeah, I'd say the App Store is more impressive. Speaking as someone with both a 3DS and an iPhone, I would say that the games that are worth downloading from the App Store are equal if not less than those offered by the 3DS. Sorry, Angry Birds just doesn't cut it after three days.

  • Noduh

    "The Nintendo 3DS e-Shop Is Out, Doesn't Yet Stack Up to the App Store"

    Isn't that a NO DUH! statement of the year....

  • ComeOn

    Oh you mean stack up like every other app is a crap clone of one that has been succesful...how about some originality in games people.  I mean, if you're going to spend the time to make a game, why not try something new...risky?  Oh well, being succesful means taking risks.

  • http://twitter.com/Ax23000 Matt Lindquist

    Is it perfect? No, definitely not.  But it's not really so much worse than the App store either.  Let's face it, if you aren't one of the top 50 best-selling apps--most people are never going to see your app unless you've got some other outlet to let people know it exists.  Heck, that's the main reason I use this website.

    By the way, Plants Vs Zombies is VERY easy to find.  It's the very first game under the DSiWare Favorite's category right next to the Virtual Console.  Artwork from it even shows up when you just highlight that folder.

    The reason only Nintendo games show up on the front screen is that those slots are reserved for new games/videos.  So far only Nintendo games have been released for the E-Shop, all the rest are old DSi Ware releases.  I suspect that as third party games start to be truly released for the service they will get space on the front page with the Nintendo games.

    I agree that the categories should be cleaned up and the interface could be expanded to make better use of the screen.  I also badly wish that they'd let you just spend the amount that a game costs instead of being forced into buying chunks of cash.

    It does, however, have one feature that I've long been baffled that Apple doesn't: A Wishlist.  If I see a game I want to remember for when I have the cash I can save it to a wishlist.  This is a really nice feature and should be standard for any digital store.

    All in all the E-Shop is proof that Nintendo is trying to figure this stuff out.  It blows both the Wii and DSi shops out of the water, but still has some ground to gain before it matches Apple's service.  All in all I'd probably personally rate it a C+.

    Here's hoping they continue to tweak and update it.  It's in all our favors for Nintendo to put a good foot forward, as the competition can only help to make every service better than it is now.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QP4X33XDUWWUTSRTZI7TFHN56Q jeremy

    There is a reason the eshop doesnt have as many useful categorys, you dont have to dig through as much crap to find something good...

  • James

    The isn't a bad system! all the games in the eshop don't have to be searched for right when they come out. At that point, you look at the game and see if you want to buy it or not. After a week, yes, they must be searched for, but you should have already made your decision about the game.  And about the eshop not standing up yo the app store, well, it will in time.  Technically, you're an idiot.