Nintendo suspends newly-minted eShop user review functionality

Posted on March 3, 2018

Did you know that Nintendo allowed for user reviews on the eShop? It’s a nice little progressive move by Nintendo. The only problem is that a few days after instating user reviews, Nintendo has backflipped, pulling them from the eShop. The question is: Why?

It’s probably best to start by taking stock of the reviews themselves which seem to be pretty par for the course. 5-star ratings, comments and tags (e.g. All ages, Great characters, Immersive etc.) let the public rule on how good their games are. A hardcore gamer could review, but also a parent watching a child play could review giving different perspectives. Even a 2 hour minimum play time was included, presumably to keep reviews fair and prevent review bombing.

Overall, a good ecosystem seemed to form around this review feature. Games up for review seemed to be rolling out slowly. The first batch of reviewable games included first and third-party titles. In fact, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was found to be having overwhelmingly positive results: 142 of 154 ratings were 5 stars.

Positive reviews on the eShop for Zelda

So its pretty surprising that the Breath of the Wild review section and all review sections are have been replaced by a “Customer Review Status statement”:

Customer reviews have been taken offline as we evaluate this feature and its functionality. We currently have no estimated date on when an update will be provided. We appreciate the positive response and thank the reviewers who provided such thoughtful commentary on the games.

Rating systems can, of course, have downsides. Game controversies can lead to users piling on negative reviews to tank a game’s overall standing. Users can also tend to extremes. Users that review either promote and sing a game’s praise (5 stars) or run it into the dirt (1 star). Sure there are problems with review programs, but it still seems odd. Surely Nintendo should have weighed those risks. Furthermore, if the status statement is to be believed this was generally a positive experience.

All this aside Nintendo has made few responses. In an official statement to Polygon, a representative referred to this as a “trial feature”. They also said that they will “evaluate the future of the ratings functionality”. Of course only time will tell us about the fate of the ratings feature. My hopes, and the hopes of the Nintendo community, are it is not a case of if, but when.