- Nintendo’s latest game console, the Switch, is a major success.
- Since launching in March, over 10 million units have already sold according to Nintendo.
- A steady cadence of major game releases and a simple concept helped make the Switch such a success.
Nintendo is back on top. After a major misstep with its Wii U console, Nintendo is making up for past mistakes with a massively popular game console: the Switch.
Since launching on March 3, more than 10 million Switch consoles have been sold.
For comparison: It took nearly two and a half years for the Wii U to reach the 10-million mark.
It’s a major return to form for Nintendo, a company that has traditionally held a leadership position in the game industry. The new sales number puts the Switch in line with the PlayStation 4 in terms of pace – it took around nine months for Sony’s PlayStation 4 to reach 10 million units sold.
“The response from fans has been great, and we’re doing our very best to satisfy demand during the holiday shopping season,” Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé said in a press release announcing the sales milestone.
Nintendo has struggled to keep up with demand for the Switch. Up until fairly recently, it was difficult to walk into a store and find one available for purchase.
Demand has been so high, in fact, that Nintendo had to revise its sales projections for first-year sales of the Switch. The company initially expected to sell about 10 million units in year one – now, Nintendo expects to sell over 14 million by March 2018. That would put Switch year-one sales over that of the Wii U’s lifetime sales (the Wii U only moved around 13 million units).
What’s made the Switch so popular?
There are a few simple reasons that the Switch has been such a smash hit, whereas the Wii U was a flop.
For starters, the Switch is a simple concept that’s well executed. It’s a home game console! It’s a portable game console! It’s both!
If you want to play it at home, you simply drop the console into the dock that’s already connected to your TV. Like magic, it’s immediately on your TV and ready to play.
If you want to play it on the go, you simply pick up the console out of the dock. If the controllers aren’t attached, you slot them on. That’s it! It’s ready to go wherever you’re going.
- Getty Images/Michael Kovac
The Wii U, on the other hand, was a mess. It was a tablet, sort of, but it couldn’t leave your house. It was slow and muddy to use. It felt underpowered, and old, and cheap – the “build quality” of the device was more toy-like than most personal electronics.
The Switch feels fresh, and modern, and sleek. It loads super fast, is a snap to navigate, and more or less intuitively “just works.” It’s a breath of fresh air from Nintendo’s hardware division, and it’s easy to see why so many people have taken to it.
The other major reason for Nintendo’s massive success with the Switch is a killer game line-up.
Starting with “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” as a launch game, moving to “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Splatoon 2,” then finishing up 2017 with “Super Mario Odyssey,” it’s easy to see why Nintendo’s Switch sold so well: Some of this year’s best games were exclusive to the Switch.
The only place you could play any of the games above – with the exception of “Breath of the Wild,” which could also be played on Wii U – is on a Switch. Whereas PlayStation 4 owners don’t have much incentive to pick up an Xbox One as well (or vice versa), there are strong arguments for buying a Switch in addition to a PlayStation 4 (or an Xbox One, or a PC).
In so many words, it’s easy for a video game fan to make a purchasing argument for the Switch given its strong line-up of exclusive games – and the majority of the 10 million people buying a Switch early on were likely the kind of folks who already own another game console.
Whether Nintendo can continue this sales run remains to be seen. But with another strong line-up of games from major franchises in the pipeline for 2018, it looks like Nintendo’s future could be even brighter.