Nintendo is notorious for their refusal to lower game prices. While most video game console owners are watching their favorite games drop in price 2-4 weeks after a release, Nintendo Switch owners and College of Staten Island Students Megan Mcnamee, Mel Tetteh, Konstantin Novichenko, and Michael Venturi don’t have that luxury. For these four students, their love of the game and desire to get in on the deals led them to create an app to solve the problem.
Nintendo Switch Game Tracker, an app that tracks sales on Nintendo games, gives users the ability to get notified when a game on their favorites list goes on sale at certain retail locations. The app also provides users with price history insights, ratings, and live streaming.
“Congratulations to the Nintendo Switch Price Tracker. We in the room also really loved products that had a really good focus. I have a Nintendo Switch. I love that they bring in older games but right, you kind of want to be practical about it. Thanks for building something that even from evidence in the Zoom chat lots of people would just immediately download and use. Filling a user’s need is what you want to do when you build products. Great Job.”
Connie Yang – Design Leader at Stripe
To understand what the deal is behind the app, I spent some time with Megan, Mel, and Konstantin. (Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t able to participate)
(Note: minor edits have been made for brevity and clarity.)
Questions are in bold, while team Nintendo Switch Price Tracker’s answers are italicized.
Tell us about the motivation behind Nintendo Switch Game Tracker — what problem were you aiming to solve and what triggered the idea?
As we got to know each other, we realized that we all had a lot in common; we all love video games and we are all aspiring video game developers. We know that Nintendo is notorious for keeping the prices of games at their original released price regardless of how long they have been out. When games do go on sale, they don’t last very long. The idea behind the application is to alert users of those sales, price drops, and availability.
Why Nintendo Switch vs other consoles?
We all love to play Nintendo Switch, and we’ve all had to experience the pain of missing opportunities of sales.
What steps did you take to define the scope of the application, and how did you prevent scope creep?
We initially had a much bigger application in mind and we really had to think about the time constraint and and figure out what would be useful to the user – What can we do to make this experience the best it can be in the time that we have with the abilities that we have. With the time constraint on our mind, we would evaluate every meeting to make sure that we were on track. Megan was very focused on UX which really influenced the process – We wanted the app to be straight to the point and visually appealing.
So, tell me about the roadblock(s) and how you overcame them?
Working with and finding the APIs that would be useful to us was pretty difficult. We had to look for APIs that would allow us to do what we needed and ended up having to use a few to accomplish the tasks. Once we were able to find APIs that would work, we had to determine the right technique for using them.
How many APIs and/or what did you end up using APIs for?
Because a lot of the APIs cost money, we ended up using a number of free APIs. We used separate APIs for: Game Prices , Historical Data, YouTube Game Reviews and Google Authorization.
Nintendo doesn’t like to publish the APIs, but we were lucky to find a useful one in GitHub that we had to use Google Translate because it wasn’t in English.
What new technologies and/or tools did you have to pick up and learn in order to accomplish your goals?
Swift, MacOS, XCode
Why did you choose to take the iOS course vs. the Android course?
Megan – I have never owned an Android phone and I prefer and am more interested in iOS. I also really wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and explore macOS.
Mel – I have always wanted to be a mobile developer and iOS seemed like a great place to start.
Konstantin – We are all Windows people but we all own iPhones so I decided on iOS.
How was the team set up and how did the team dynamic play a role in the success of the application?
We all go to the same school (College of Staten Island) so we requested each other. Transparency and communication got us through everything. We all have busy schedules so being transparent about what we could handle each week and communicating it was important. We met weekly, divided the work, and scheduled time to showcase what we accomplished. We also decided as a team to present the application live during Demo Day which we think made a difference.
Looking back on the semester, about how many hours per week did you spend learning and developing your application?
We spent 8-10 hours a week. Most of the time we spent was on the technical development phase. We would plan Sunday, then work through the week to accomplish the tasks.
Where do you see the application going? Can we get some insight on Phase 2? Phase 3?
Well, Nintendo is known for lawsuits. We would love to release it — We would need to use a more professional API and ensure that we don’t infringe on anything related to Nintendo.
How did you get involved with CodePath? How did you hear about it?
Megan – A friend of mine recommended it. I was taking 19 credits that semester and he helped me make the decision to push myself and take the course.
Mel – I’m part of a cohort called City University of New York (CUNY) Tech Talent Pipeline. Two of my mentors from there mentioned it and recommended it as a great opportunity to learn mobile development. They also mentioned that CodePath helps students with internships.
Konstantin – I too belong to the CUNY Tech Talent Pipeline and got an email with information about CodePath.
Tell us about your experience with CodePath, the course, instructors, and the community.
Megan – The community was very friendly — We always felt included. Overall, very good experience.
Mel – One of the things that really impressed me was the opportunity to network with Ivy League Students during Demo Day; they were all really supportive of what we were doing. It was also a huge inspiration to have the judges that we did participate in Demo Day.
Konstantin – I agree 100% with Megan and Mel. It was a lot of fun and really cool to see so many different schools participating. The structure of the course and the videos were all great.
You’ve learned some valuable lessons and added new tools to your resume—What’s next? Where do you see yourself working or what is your dream job?
Megan – I want to be a UI/UX Developer– Hopefully in the gaming industry. I’m also looking at graduate schools that revolve around UX.
Mel – I really want to work on my leadership skills. I see myself as a Project Manager in the future. I’m also interested in being a Full-Stack Developer and holding leadership roles.
Konstantine – My dream job is to have my own game development company. I want to create games with strong narratives like movies. I’d like to go study Artificial Intelligence (AI) in graduate school and use that knowledge to revolutionize the gaming industry with innovative AI.
What is one piece of advice that you would give yourselves if you could go back to day one of your semester?
Start early and take time to get a good understanding of the APIs that you intend to use.
Finally, what advice would you give the reader if they are interested in CodePath?
Just do it! Let the doubts go and just do it. Have fun. Have patience. Don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone. Always be willing to try new things and expand your horizon of understanding. We are having the best time of our lives.
Ok, last question– What’s your favorite game and/or what are you currently playing?
Megan – My favorite game is Telltale’s The Walking Dead and I’m currently playing God of War .
Mel – I’d say both my favorite game and the game I’m currently playing is Destiny 2.
Konstantine – My favorite game is The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and I’m currently playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
Michael – My favorite game would be Dark Souls, and a game I’m playing right now is ULTRAKILL by New Blood Interactive.
Check out the Nintendo Switch Game Tracker project on GitHub.
Megan, Mel, Michael, and Konstantin, completed CodePath’s iOS mobile development class. To learn more about CodePath’s iOS course and other curriculums, please visit https://codepath.org/classes.