For those who don’t know, shovelware is software that is rapidly shoveled out by a company in order to make a quick buck. You’ve seen it a million times, especially if you’re a Nintendo fan.
Ever since the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo has seen a massive massive problem with them. Unsurprisingly, this happened shortly after the time when Nintendo got rid of their legendary “Nintendo Seal of Quality.” This was a program from back in the day in which they actually approved games before allowing them on their system.
Ask anyone who worked at a Gamestop between 2008 and 2011 about the Imagine wall in the Nintendo DS section. At all GameStop retailers, the Nintendo DS had an infamous section where it was only Imagine games.
Here’s a Google search for the Imagine games. Now just “imagine” an entire white row in the wall shelving that looked like this:
Later systems also had similar problems. The Wii, for example, had a developer called Data Design Interactive which pulled off one of the bravest examples of shovelware I had ever seen. They released multiple 3D platformers that were essentially the exact same game, but with slightly different stories and different textures on the models. Even the box art on the back of two of their games, Anubis II and Ninjabread Man was almost the exact same screenshots.
Nintendo’s most recent system, the Nintendo Switch, has been incredibly successful. In 2021, while you would think that problems like this would be easier to avoid, it seems to be quite the opposite.
Over the last year, the Nintendo Switch storefront has been absolutely flooded with shovelware. Wanna get the popular Super Meat Boy? Oops, you just purchased Super Metboy. Your kids begging for Roblox? Hope you didn’t get them Robox.
Nintendo has been very lax and while this has allowed for a lot of independent developers to get their work out, it’s also lead to a bunch of malicious companies shoveling out the steamiest piles in the hope of tricking people with a few bucks left in their wallets. The software these companies put out barely even function at games.
One of the biggest perpetrators is Pix Art. Pix Art is the kind of game you’ve seen a million times on shows like CIS when they want to show a video game but doesn’t want to pay the rights to a popular title. They instead slap together their own.
They are ugly nightmare programs that enter you into a world that dares you to keep your system on. Here’s a quick tiptoe through Pix Art’s gallery.
Did you see that Urban Street Fighting game? Finally, a rematch between long-time foes “SOCCER BOY” and “BOXER”.
But here’s what happens. They release a ton of these games. Then they take advantage of Nintendo’s “make your own sale” set up, and they drop half their library to four bucks to make people look like their saving. Then, a wayward parent knows their kid likes fighting games and sees this in the budget bin.
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Here’s where it gets really fun. The reason that Nintendo has such a problem with these scammers is because of Nintendo themselves. Normally, finding out you’ve been completely ripped off is an easily fixed problem, but Nintendo does not offer refunds on their digital purchases. It’s nigh impossible. So you give this company your money and you’re stuck with it. You are NOT getting that money back.
They’re not the only ones either. One of my favorite bad companies on the Switch is called Sabec. This company, whose website hilariously just features random logos of MTV, XBox360, Apple and Hasbro for no related reason, has also been digging in and shoveling their wares onto the Switch market as well. Here’s their recent catalog:
Honestly, I don’t understand why this problem even exists. One employee could easily field test these games and see what’s happening but Nintendo has just been letting this happen. I don’t even see the benefit. Not only does this make the recent release section an absolute nightmare, but the deals look like a Big Lots DVD budget bin.
I’ve reached out to Nintendo of America’s press sector for a statement and will update this article when I hear something.