While I think Rol's comments may be unfounded (at the very least, the pot calling the kettle black), I think your assessment is still off the mark. I've noticed that people who make a lot of charts are very bad about considering qualitative factors and often struggle to look at the big picture.
Let's back up. The question is "Can the Swicht beat the Wii in the US". The answer is obviously yes
- Nintendo Switch will have multiple SKUs
- Video game console lifespans have increased since the Wii
- Switch has seen YoY increases
Already, we can say, yeah, it probably will, but let's dive deep. We'll start by comparing Wii sales to Switch. I'm going to use Nintendo's official numbers. Yes, I know this is "The Americas" and not just the US but I don't think the buying habits of Canada and Brazil are going to throw this off much; it's good enough for an internet message board discussion. The Wii sold 48.64 million over its life. The Nintendo Switch has sold 14.01. Nintendo Switch has sold 28.8 percent of the Wii's lifetime sales in the Americas. Divide 2 (for roughly 2 years on the market) by 28.8 percent and you get 6.94 years to match the Wii's sales. WOW that's almost exactly how long generations are lasting. So if the Switch sells, on average, the same amount each year as its doing now, then it will beat the Wii out. Obviously there will be highs and lows and we haven't seen the system peak. We are seeing increases in April and May despite no major title out which is a good sign in the long run.
Moreover, we know the Switch is going to have at least one new SKU, likely two SKUs given the WSJ's reports have been accurate in the past. This will increase sales far beyond what we have seen in the previous two years. These can have a big impact on sales. See the DS and the PS4 (something people always neglect in their analysis). "BUT THE SP". If you look at the SP, it accounts for 58 percent of total GBA sales in the Americas. It wasn't until FY 2004 (3 years in) that it accounted for the majority of sales and it wasn't until FY 2005 that it accounted for more than 90 percent of the total sales. Either people were upgrading or they were purchasing the cheaper original model. All that aside, remember we are comparing a system with one SKU to a system with multiple. There will be people who buy multiple Switch units and we've already seen that the consumer base is hungry for anything Switch related. It should be noted Switch released at a far higher price than Nintendo handhelds normally do. There is likely a market that will buy a Switch when it comes closer to $200 or even $250, but I digress.
You bring up the is that Nintendo consoles tapper off towards the end of their lifespan which is another qualitative fumble. Let's consider Nintendo's handheld
- In the year the DS released (FYE 3/31/2015), the GBA sold 8.56 million in the Americas. It went on to sell another 8.26 million thereafter. This totals to 16.82 million units and accounts for 40 percent of total GBA sales
- The DS sold an additional 4.8 million after the 3DS released. This is 8 percent of total DS sales in the Americas.
- The 3DS sold 4.14 million after the Switch was released which accounts for 16 percent of total sales.
So if the Switch is going to sell another 8 percent of it's total sales after the next system comes out, then it's going to be enough to push it over the Wii in the US. For comparison, the Wii only sold 890K after the Wii U was out.
Lastly, as Rol pointed out, no Nintendo handheld has sold below 26 million in the Americas (Switch by the by is already over 50 percent of that). This is only because the 3DS. The Nintendo DS, GBA and Gameboy all sold over 41 million units in the Americas.
But I think the issue is as I've said in the beginning. Your assessment is granular and misses the big picture. Rather than trying to guess movement, just look at how past systems have sold. A difference between my analysis and yours is I don't have to read the tea leave to see how the Switch is going to do every year. If the Switch sells above your 7.3-7.8 range, that changes everything else. I just need to look at what it's doing now relative to the others and then consider other factors (revised hardware, longer lifespan, ect). This is where we are now. This is where we need to be. Can we get there: yes or no? The more granular you try and get, the more any error will compound.
Sales all come from here: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/historical_data/index.html
There's a lot to unpack here, so I wanted to address specific things. Given how this forum makes it difficult to break up the quote block, I'll just copy & paste the things you said that I wanted to reply to specifically, which will be bolded & italicized.
"I'm going to use Nintendo's official numbers."
I prefer to use NPD data instead of Nintendo shipment data. First off, shipments do not equal sales, and NPD tracks sales, not shipments. Second, this is about U.S. sales specifically and NPD data pertains to the U.S. market, excluding the rest of the nations in the Americas. So, I will be using NPD data as I always do in these threads unless none is available.
"The Wii sold 48.64 million over its life. The Nintendo Switch has sold 14.01. Nintendo Switch has sold 28.8 percent of the Wii's lifetime sales in the Americas. Divide 2 (for roughly 2 years on the market) by 28.8 percent and you get 6.94 years to match the Wii's sales. WOW that's almost exactly how long generations are lasting. So if the Switch sells, on average, the same amount each year as its doing now, then it will beat the Wii out."
That's one hell of an assumption, as the Switch could already be well into the decline phase of its life well before it turns 7. Let's try a different metric.
By the end of its second full year (a 26-month period containing the launch period and two non-launch holidays, comparable to the Switch's 26 months of sales, which also include launch and two non-launch holidays), the Wii was at 17.54M, which was just shy of 42% of its lifetime total of 41.79M, and it was the least front-loaded Nintendo console of the past five generations (the N64 and GC peaked earlier and declined faster, and what data there is suggests the SNES did so as well; the Wii U did even have a complete life cycle, but had sold over two-thirds of its lifetime total by the end of its second year). Handhelds are all over the place. By the end of its 27th month, the GBA was at 15.44M, about 31.9% of its lifetime total. The DS was at only 9.14M at the end of its second year (another 26-month span), about 17% of its lifetime total. Finally, assuming it ends at around 24M lifetime, the 3DS will have sold about 35% of its lifetime total during its first 27 months.
The Switch is now at 11.97M. Now, if we are generous and assume the Switch is only as front-loaded as the DS, that means it would sell 70M. Now, I know nobody think's that's possible. The DS was an anomaly by all accounts, not only in how back-loaded it was and how late it peaked, but in terms of sheer volume at its peak. It's the #1 system ever in the U.S., and I doubt that record will be beaten. So, that leaves us with the others. If we generously assume that it's as front-loaded as the GBA, that would put it at over 37M, around my median projection. If the Switch beats the Wii, that would make it the second-least front-loaded system Nintendo has released in the past 25 years, with less than 29% of its lifetime sales occurring in the first 27 months. That's very optimistic. Possible, but still far from guaranteed.
"Moreover, we know the Switch is going to have at least one new SKU, likely two SKUs given the WSJ's reports have been accurate in the past. This will increase sales far beyond what we have seen in the previous two years. These can have a big impact on sales. See the DS and the PS4 (something people always neglect in their analysis)."
I mentioned hardware revisions, and as I said their impacts on sales have been highly variable. The DS was as mentioned a sales anomaly. It started off poorly, but the DS Lite kicked it into high gear, and its sales continued to improve steadily for several years after that. The DSi also caused a short-term spike, with the month of its launch pushing DS sales in the U.S. to over 1 million units, the only time on record any system passed that milestone in a non-holiday month. But as mentioned the DS was a freak of nature. It would be beyond optimistic to think that its inevitable hardware revision will do to sales what the DS Lite did for DS sales, even if only proportionally.
The PS4 Slim had only a very modest impact on sales in the U.S., and the Pro didn't appear to do anything at all. Not exactly the kind of thing the Switch would need to get out of its revision(s).
""BUT THE SP". If you look at the SP, it accounts for 58 percent of total GBA sales in the Americas. It wasn't until FY 2004 (3 years in) that it accounted for the majority of sales and it wasn't until FY 2005 that it accounted for more than 90 percent of the total sales."
The SP accounts for 58% of lifetime GBA sales in the Americas. If you look more carefully at the data, it largely displaced the original model (which was not outright discontinued). The vast majority of people that bought a GBA after Q1 2003 bought an SP. From Q2 2003 onward, the SP accounted for 88% of all GBA shipments in the Americas. Japan shows the same thing, as Famitsu & Media Create data (which track actual sales), show the SP accounting for the vast majority of actual units sold every week for the rest of the GBA's life. When a new model of a system is released it largely displaces the original, if it doesn't replace it completely (e.g., the DS Lite replaced the original model completely, but the DSi existed in tandem with the Lite, though it was the more popular model once it was released).
"You bring up the is that Nintendo consoles tapper off towards the end of their lifespan which is another qualitative fumble. Let's consider Nintendo's handheld [data follows]."
This is where looking at actual sales data comes in handy. I did mention that the GBA had decent legs, and was the only Nintendo handheld to do so. To copy and paste what I said in my previous post: "The GBA was the one exception, as it did have some solid support until 2007 (though Nintendo's support was largely minimal), three years after the DS was released, but then again the DS apparently wasn't initially intended to replace the GBA. Likely because of these factors, the GBA had the best legs of any Nintendo handheld, at least in absolute terms, with over 8.6M units sold from 2005 to 2007." That 8.6M accounts for 24% of lifetime GBA sales. It was the only one that didn't instantly crater when its nominal replacement (which the DS wasn't "officially" a replacement for the GBA) was released.
But look at the Game Boy Color. Based on the data I have, it sold nearly 17.3M units during its short life. It went from 6.82M in 2000 to 2.95M in 2001 (the year the GBA was released), a massive 56.7% drop. In 2002 it only sold about 60k units, meaning it was essentially dead less than a year after the GBA launched (I wish I had monthly data to see how quickly it cratered after June 2001).
Then there's the DS. After an astonishing run that produced over 38M units sold in the four-year span of 2007 to 2010 (the best four-year period of any system ever in the U.S.), it declined quickly once the 3DS was released. It dropped 55% in 2011, then another 48.8% in 2012, and finally another massive 72% drop in 2013. All told, DS sales from 2011 to 2013 amounted to only about 11.9% of its lifetime total. Going from 8.56M in 2010 to only 1.97M in 2012 is a rapid decline.
Looking at their home consoles, the Wii sold less than 5% of its lifetime total after the Wii U was released, even with the huge lifetime total, that still amounts to about 2 million units post-Wii U. The N64 sold only a paltry 2% of its lifetime sales after the GameCube was released. I don't have any monthly GameCube data past 2006, but it was already dying before the Wii came out, and NPD data suggests it sold may 200k or so in 2007 (it was at less than 11.6M by the end of 2006, while NPD gives a lifetime total of 11.8M according to a 2014 report; Nintendo shipped only 760k units to the Americas from April 2006 onward, with only 130k of those being shipped from April 2007 onward). At best, the GameCube sold 5% of its lifetime sales from Nov. 2006 onward. While the data I have for it may not be 100% accurate, the SNES may have sold 10-12% of its lifetime total from 1997 onward. The NES may have had the best legs of any Nintendo home console, with 13% of its lifetime shipments to the Americas being made from April 1991 to March 1995, though without proper sales data from Aug. 1991 (the SNES launch) onward, we can't get a more accurate figure. So, after the SNES, Nintendo home consoles stopped having any decent legs after their successors were released. They quite simply fall off of a cliff.
Unless the Switch has GBA-like legs, it will be unlikely to sell more than a few million units once its successor is released.
Also, with the exception of the DS, which took five years to peak, Nintendo systems released in the past 25 years have invariably peaked early, even after Xbox & PlayStation started to move their peaks to late in the gen last generation. The N64, GameCube, and 3DS peaked in Year 1. The Wii and Wii U peaked in Year 2. The GBA peaked in year 3 (assuming you count 2001 as a mostly complete year). Given the normal range for Nintendo systems, it's entirely possible that this is the Switch's peak year. And if it does peak this year, its chances of passing the Wii are almost nil.
Honestly, the Switch is a great system, and I'd love to see the it become Nintendo's new #1 home console/#2 handheld (I doubt anything will ever pass the DS again), but unless I see continued improvement through next year, I don't see it happening. Nintendo needs to knock it out of the park with the hardware revisions, and they need continued strong software support. BotW2 is a good start, but we need another mainline Super Mario game, maybe Mario Kart 9, and maybe even a "Pokemon Spear" ("now with National Pokedex!"), as well as other marquee titles and more mid-tier titles to supplement them. This will be especially important once all the big third parties start to focus their attention solely on the PS5 and Scarlett, since Nintendo will be dependent almost entirely on their own output after that point (though by time the PS4 & XBO are abandoned by AAA developers, the Switch's successor may already be on the horizon).
And with that, I think I've said all I can really say on the subject.