Why Nintendo added folders to the Switch
Five years later, the Nintendo Switch gets folders thanks to Valve
The Switch has been one of the biggest successes that Nintendo has ever had. However, while people have enjoyed gaming on their Switches, many complaints about the Switch’s home screen have persisted since the beginning. At the top of the list: folders.
Nintendo recently released folders for the Switch (which the company is calling groups) but managed to mangle the implementation. To create a folder, you have to scroll left or right to the All Software icon, go to the All Software page, Press the L button, open your folder, select your game and start playing.
If that sounds stupid to you, it’s because it is stupid. Nintendo does things like this that make no sense to the average gamer, and leaves us all scratching our heads, wondering what they were thinking.
Implementation aside, there is an important question: why is Nintendo adding folders after avoiding it for five years?
One word: Steamdeck.
Yes, Valve’s new hybrid handheld has lit a fire under Nintendo’s rear end, and the company now realizes that the Steamdeck could morph into a real competitor for gamer dollars. Until now, Nintendo has had the hybrid/handheld space to themselves, but those days are coming to an end.
Due to chip shortages, Valve is doing a trickle-out release of the Steamdeck. People are patiently waiting to be notified that their Steamdeck is ready for purchase. This slow-release helps Valve as it gives them time to get more games running on Steamdeck, and it provides them wiggle-room to fix SteamOS itself.
On the other hand, Nintendo has more or less sat on its ass and allowed the Switch’s home screen feature set to languish for years. It’s not just folders either; the Switch still has the same two themes it shipped with initially, white and black. There are no other choices and no other themes to buy in the eshop.
Compare the Switch to Nintendo’s old 3DS system, and the difference is shocking. The 3DS was a highly customizable system; gamers could choose from hundreds of themes and arrange their games in folders to their heart’s content. The 3DS also offered stickers, streetpass, and many other features that the Switch still doesn’t have.
Here’s a look at some great UI mockups done by Switch fans:
Just about any of the mockups above would be better than the Switch’s current home screen. So as the owner of an OLED Switch, I’m thrilled that Valve has put some fear into Nintendo. I hope that Nintendo realizes that the Switch’s home screen is a poorly organized mess that could be far better than it is now and that if they don’t improve it, some Switch gamers will move on to the Steamdeck.
It shows you again that competition is the key to consumer happiness. When one company has a monopoly in a market, you can expect it to do the least work possible to please its customers.
So thanks, Valve! You are doing what years of complaints from Switch owners have failed to do: forcing Nintendo to make the Switch a better gaming experience.