Nintendo’s new concierge service is certainly not meant for someone like me – but I really wanted to try it anyway. Fortunately, after trying it, it seems to offer a great service, no matter who you are.
A quick look at the website makes it clear that the free, contract-based customer service program is for people who are new to or at least less familiar with the Nintendo Switch. For example, you can enter into a 30-minute appointment to chat with a Nintendo representative about topics such as gaming (Getting Started), security and privacy, or even just the Nintendo Switch 101.
So not for, say, someone who reviewed the Switch hardware when it came out and has 500 hours in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Not me.
But even though I let Nintendo know in advance that I was a game reporter who probably already knew an annoying amount about the switch, Nintendo representative Adonis greeted me warmly during my session last week and was fully prepared to take me on a journey through my selected topic: “Games (What to Play Next).”
Adonis knew I was already here with a fairly full Switch library, but I also told him that my visit was sincere. I wanted to know what this process looked like, and I wanted to see how deep Nintendo’s recommendations would cut. Would he just recommend a few Mario games and call it that? Was his work limited to explaining how to access the eShop? Was this just a Nintendo cash grab, and would he try to encourage me to buy more titles at full price? How good will the recommendations really be?
Fortunately, Adonis was patient with my unusual situation, and invited me to tell him a little about what I had recently played or what I was interested in to give him an idea of where to start. I told him that I had been playing Animal Crossing and the indie puzzle title Carto lately, and was looking forward to Bravely Default 2 in a few weeks and wanted something to fill the time in the meantime.
Then Adonis did the best he could have done: he recommended me to play a bunch of game demos.
Since we were in a video call, he offered to share his screen with me and showed me the Nintendo Switch, where he went through the process of navigating to the eShop and searching for games by available demo, and then genre (we went with RPGs). Then he slowly started flipping through the games and shouted out a few recommendations as he went on as Trials of Mana, Octopath Traveler and Cat Quest.
I must admit – I actually learned something during this session. As someone who writes about games for a living, I rarely have reason to surf informally on eShop. I already know that most of the games are coming soon as I want to play, so I have never taken the time to consider the wide range of free demo games that are out there now. There are many! Much more than I had previously thought, in fact. I quickly started writing down titles on a sticky note.
I was further impressed by the fact that Adonis seemed more than willing to jump out of the first-party catalog and recommend games from partners, large and small. Aside from Cat Quest, other indies he mentioned included Grindstone and Wonderful 101, which he was glad they had come to Switch after being missed by so many on the Wii U. He also threw out Dragon Quest Builders (after I told him that I was not huge on Dragon Quest properly), Pokémon Mystery Dungeon (because I said I loved Sword and Shield and Let’s Go!), and the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise demo since I mentioned my long distance partner and I looking for games to play together in collaboration.
Oh, and he eventually came to recommend the new Mario game, but at the time I had a list that would easily tease me for weeks after Bravely Default 2.
Although he mentioned a few games I had already played, I walked away from the conversation with a long list of titles I had known for a while but had not given a proper shake for some reason. Several, such as Grindstone and Octopath, were games I had wanted to play for a while and just did not have time for. I spent the weekend dipping in and out of game demos and have, with the exception of Monster Hunter (which the demo has unfortunately ended for now), at least doubled in everything Adonis recommended.
Nintendo’s interest in making the system understandable to people with less gaming knowledge is not new, nor surprising, but this latest effort has legitimately impressed me. I went in and waited to be told to buy some $ 60 games I had either already played or were not particularly interested in. Instead, someone who obviously loved games and knew a lot about them talked to me and helped me navigate. in a system I had not spent much time finding any new games I like. If this was my experience as a very comfortable with her switch, I can imagine that it could be even more enlightening for newcomers who really have no idea where to start.
The concierge service is currently a pilot program that Nintendo says is only available in January and February, but I hope it is successful enough and useful enough that they keep it open longer and manage to spread the word to new Switch owners. If you have a friend or family member who is new to gaming or the Switch system and wants help, I cannot recommend it enough.
Also, Adonis, if you are reading this: these recommendations ruled, and after work today I will play more Dragon Quest Builders. Thanks!
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.