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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Why is the Switch selling historical numbers?

TBH, I still can't believe that the Switch is currently outpacing the Wii and going neck and neck with the DS. After the Wii U gen I never thought another Nintendo system and let alone the Switch would sell not only over 100 Million units, but potentially even come close to the PS2 and DS in sales.

The reason why I never thought a Nintendo console or the Switch would see 100 Million is because I thought most of the casuals Nintendo appealed to with the Wii and DS completely moved on to smartphone games and I didn't think there would be a gimmick as impressive as the Wii and DS to bring them back. And Nintendo never really showed the willingness to compete with PlayStation and Xbox to get the 3rd party support to bring the console gamers back.

And looking at the Switch, while the hybrid concept is impressive and one of the things I love about the Switch. I didn't think the gimmick was anywhere near as impressive as let's say the Wii or DS where motion controls and touch screen gaming was pretty new and novel technology unlike a lot of what people haven't seen before. While the hybrid concept is cool, it isn't anything that the consumer likely hasn't seen before where we've seen the Nvidia shield tablet able to connect to the TV while playing portably or other portable devices able to connect to a TV.

Also, who do you think is mostly buying the Switch. The more dedicated console gamers from PS and Xbox or casuals who maybe only played the Wii coming back to Nintendo or going to Nintendo for the first time?

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In my opinion: Nintendo are always trying to do something different. While you can choose between PS5 or Xbox, the Switch has a separate world of games

Also, Nintendo really have the younger audience totally sown up. Microsoft and Sony don't even bother with family friendly.

Nintendo woke up one day and said, hey you know the Wii U and Vita? Let's do that but good this time.

(ftr I love Vita)

Bite my shiny metal cockpit!

It's Nintendo. They have the first party games that have the widest audience. Once they have a console concept that works well enough it's pretty much a done deal.

The part of the market that wants TV only high end graphics and all the AAA games might be large, but I don't think it will ever be larger than the Family market.

Also, families will easily buy multiple hybrid/portables for each member of the family, but hardly any of them are going to buy more than one PS or XBOX.

Plus _some_ of the stuff Rol said.

Last edited by dharh - on 27 March 2021

A warrior keeps death on the mind from the moment of their first breath to the moment of their last.

The main reason why most people couldn't see Switch selling 100m+ is because they've been working with wrong premises, much like you. If someone doesn't understand why the Wii and DS were successful, everything would look like an uphill battle where Nintendo success is an outlier while the Wii U and 3DS gen would be perceived as the norm for Nintendo's performance in the console business. But it's exactly the other way around: Nintendo success is the norm while the Wii U and the 3DS are the big outlier generation.

This already shows in the financial stats where Nintendo had consistently made profits in the video game business, starting as a developer of arcade games and Game & Watch devices, all the way through the Wii and DS generation. It's only during the years of the Wii U and 3DS that Nintendo faced a challenge to generate profits.

For console sales, Nintendo has had ten major platforms before Switch. These are the NES, GB/C, SNES, N64, GBA, GC, DS, Wii, 3DS and Wii U. Seven of them won out against their respective competitors while only three did not. This (70%) is the highest success rate in the console business, followed by Sony at 50% before the current generation (Switch, PS5, XSX|S) is factored in - which will be another Nintendo win. PS1, PS2 and PS4 were winners while the PSP, PS3 and PSV were not.

15 years ago the prevalent perception of the console business was that Sony is king and that Nintendo's days as a hardware manufacturer are numbered. This flawed premise subsequently created the hardcore/casual fallacy, because all these people who were wrong had to come up with an excuse to avoid to admit that they don't understand the console business. Nintendo was very open about their strategy with the Wii and the DS, but willful ignorance made video game producers, gaming journalism and gamers alike miss it all until they were left dumbfounded that everything played out much different than they had anticipated.

One major component of the Wii and DS strategy was that Nintendo made a big effort to trim the fat of modern video games and get the purity of classic consoles back. Instead of long intros and tutorials, games were easy to pick up and play, and were instantly fun instead of having to rely on dreaded phrases like "You have to give the game 2-3 hours, but then it starts to get good." This original core value of video games was increasingly neglected by the video game industry, so Nintendo reaped the rewards with the Wii and DS. It should be self-explanatory that this original value was what made video games a major branch of the entertainment industry to begin with; it is what created gamers in the first place. Anyone who understands this shouldn't be surprised that the Wii and DS did not only bring in new gamers to the console market, but also made tens of millions return who had quit console gaming due to the increasing waste of time it had become.

In the alternate version where the Wii and DS were successful because of casuals, these dumb gamers left Nintendo for smartphones and tablets, completely ignoring that Nintendo themselves made major changes to their strategy with the Wii U and 3DS where the emphasis of both consoles was put on things that were very different from the Wii and DS. Anyone who fell prey to this alternate telling of history was blindsided by Switch, but for the few who can tell a difference between strategies, it wasn't a surprise because Switch offers many parallels to the Wii and DS. The fans of classic console gaming have once again returned to Nintendo, so the conclusion should be that Nintendo will consistently be successful as long as they cater to this market. This is because the other two console manufacturers can't perform this job, so there's a big segment of console gamers for whom it is Nintendo or nothing.

These are the people, the classic gamers, I credit the most for Switch's success because they've shown up early and threw their spending power behind it. They don't lack money, because they are obviously adults already. You can tell that Switch's success isn't driven by PS and Xbox gamers because the payment models for games that are being embraced differ so drastically. What you have on Switch is gamers who are paying for quality, so Nintendo keeping game prices high isn't an issue because the games are worth the money, so people are willing to pay for them even years later; the same attitude applies to DLCs where large expansions to games are prefered over individual bits and pieces, let alone loot box nonsense. On the other hand, on PS and Xbox game prices deteriorate fast and companies boost their bottom lines with business models for additional purchases that are lifted essentially straight from smartphone games.

That's something that people should really be thinking about, because it turns beliefs upside down; it's not the Nintendo console gamer that is cheap and casual, rather it's the PS and Xbox gamer. You can also tell this from gaming forums in the way of Switch's biggest sellers being discussed and talked about a lot whereas IPs like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and FIFA (the bestsellers on PS and Xbox) are commonly ignored by the more dedictated console gamers you find in these places. For PS and Xbox there is a notable disconnect between what sells the most and what is being praised the most, so one has to wonder why people cling to a notion that the gamers who drive Nintendo's success are somehow lesser than the gamers who drive PlayStation's success and Xbox's stay-around.

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Shipments

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Portable plus combining the scope/scale of big ticket Nintendo console experiences (something couldn't be previously done) has been the a successful combo for Nintendo.

Home console market in a traditional sense has been a rough go for them since the SNES because people want in part a home console to be like a DVD/VCR/television appliance and they always have. They want wide variety of content, they don't want to be told "well you can't have this game or that channel" ... the responsibility of the "big box console" even the NES/SNES was to provide the widest breadth of content and then let the consumer decide what they want. It's the same way no one would want a speciality TV that only showed a few channels even if one of the channels being shown was fantastic in quality. So Sony took over that aspect of the market, but Nintendo defended the portable side of their market well until smartphones became a problem about 10 years ago.

Switch addresses the rise of mobile gaming eating away at the traditional handheld market by going upmarket, you can't really play games of the scope/scale of Breath of the Wild or even really Mario Kart 8 on mobile, no one would give away games like that for free. And Nintendo looks like they are continuing to ensure they'll have a good gap here as mobile games improve and consoles are getting better, Nintendo looks to be upgrading the current Switch significantly to be able to display 4K games and likely better fidelity, which keeps the product unique. There is nothing on the mobile market that's going to have 4K games like BOTW2 going forward. Very astute of Furukawa to go this route, gotta keep your hardware fresh and not rest on your laurels. 

For this past year, also COVID no doubt has had a monstrous impact, it's the biggest global event since World War II and it set up for Nintendo's purposes in an unplanned way pretty much perfectly ... the world went into lock down basically around March 2020, just as Animal Crossing released. That's just an extremely fortunate turn of events. Then for the rest of the 12 months, the lineup Nintendo has had has been mediocre (Musou game as their big holiday title, a new Paper Mario as really their only medium sized release, no big scale releases) but it hasn't really mattered. They're also in the middle of their product cycle so they have much more inventory to sell, MS/Sony who are selling out of every PS5/XBS are seeing benefit too but they're basically bottlenecked by not having enough supply because those are brand new systems. So the timing isn't really as great for them.

Last edited by Soundwave - on 27 March 2021

Amazing Nintendo games + compelling hardware concept vs two expensive similar systems that play a lot of the same games and don't do anything new but have better graphics.

The idea that Switch's hybrid concept should be a surprise success because the Nvidia Shield exists is a bizarre opinion. Like, who the hell care about the Nvidia Shield?? What games can even be played on it? So Nvidia made a tablet. Big deal. There are lots of tablets out there. Nintendo provides a fluent ecosystem focused on hardware/software synergy with incredible quality and they are a highly regarded consumer brand. It'd be like saying you're surprised iPhones are popular when so and so random company also has a smart phone.

Switch is bringing in casual non-gamers with stuff like Ring Fit, AC, etc. It's of course bringing in Nintendo fans. It's bringing in children and their parents cuz it's got a load of fun games and the big games in the library aren't all focused on violent action games. And it brings in everyone because its got loads of amazing games and you can play anywhere. It also opens up usage for more types of games because portable is more amenable to play sessions of any length as opposed to home consoles which have the general idea that you're sitting down for a longer play session.

Basically the Switch tells a compelling story:
Play a variety of the best modern games (not small handheld games) and the treasure trove of Nintendo first party games that you'll never get anywhere else, and literally anywhere you want instead of being stuck on your couch.

Compare that to the story essentially told by the other two.
Sony: Play all the best graphics big action games and sports games.
Microsoft: Same as Sony but not as many.

OneTime said:

In my opinion: Nintendo are always trying to do something different. While you can choose between PS5 or Xbox, the Switch has a separate world of games

Also, Nintendo really have the younger audience totally sown up. Microsoft and Sony don't even bother with family friendly.

I don't know about Xbox but there are tons of family friend titles in PS Store

I think Nintendo putting all its focus on one device helps. We've also reached a point where console quality games are mobile at a reasonable price.

Vita wasn't quite there, it didn't connect to a TV and Sony gave it half ass support given it wasn't their priority. I like the Vita, but it was more of the same we kinda expect from portables.

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It started off selling well because it was a new concept that was actually marketed well (and lent itself to being marketed well), it played to Nintendo's best strengths, and it allowed them to consolidate all their development efforts into a single platform, meaning it didn't suffer from any major software droughts in early life. It also helps that it was reasonably priced for what it was, it launched with one of the most critically-acclaimed games ever, and Nintendo has in general been putting out some of their best material in a long time on the system. I'd say the Switch has the best overall library of first-party titles of any Nintendo system since the N64.

But what made it go from "good" to "outstanding" in terms of sales?


It super-charged the sales of a system that was already doing very well (Animal Crossing also helped last March and possibly also April). And that's all I'm saying about that particular subject. I've written at length about it elsewhere. Check the NPD threads.


In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").