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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Biggest reasons why the Switch historically popular?


Will the Switch end up outselling the PS2?

Yes 12 26.67%
No 33 73.33%

With the Switch sitting at around 124 Million Sold based on the latest Vgchartz estimates, the Switch is now the 3rd Greatest Selling System of all and has a legitimate chance of becoming #1, and it's the 2nd bestselling Nintendo console ever.

I know this topic been talked about before but I want to revisit it in 2023 to see why the Switch became a Top 3 bestselling console ever after the disaster of the Wii U. Like who is the Switch appealing too and how was it able to gain a bigger audience than the Wii and outsell the very successful PS4.

From my perspective in North America, even amongst people I know I found out that people are more likely to own a Switch than a PS4 or Xbox One, which makes sense since the Switch outsold those two consoles a while ago in the U.S.

This may come to a surprise to some people cause some people view an Xbox or PS as must-have multiplat systems here in the U.S where you could get most games you're interested in while people look at Nintendo as a secondary console that you only buy for Nintendo games.

However, the reason the Switch is more popular than those two consoles here in North America is primarily cause Switch is so unique with its games and concept that getting a PS or Xbox won't be able to replace what the Switch can do. People love Nintendo games, 26 of the 50 bestselling games in history are Nintendo games, and if the console's concept is a appealing than people will buy a Nintendo console just for Nintendo games and there's no other console that can take away the Switch's marketshare since the concept and games is so unique.

A big reason why the Xbox One & PS4 weren't able to outsell the Switch in North America is cause of the competition between the two, if you own an Xbox One, you'll have very little reason to also buy a PS4 since they play mostly the same games, same can be argued for PC & PS4 gamers who don't need an Xbox since they offer a very similar experience. However, when it comes to the Switch, the experience you get from that console with the games & concept is different enough to the point where people will buy it whether they have a PS4 or Xbox One since the Switch has no legit competitors, this is why Nintendo's blue ocean strategy is genius.

Most people I know who own a Switch also play games on PC, PS4, or Xbox One. But the Switch is the most popular out of them cause of Switch is unique enough for everyone to own one.

In general, though, the Switch is so successful primarily due to the fact that people love Nintendo games and the value that the hybrid concept has in making people want to purchase it cannot be overstated. While IMO most people always have loved Nintendo games, there are times where Nintendo fans just don't feel the need to upgrade their Nintendo system if they don't see the console as being appealing or unique enough to offer a better Nintendo experience. This is why I believe the Wii U failed, yea the marketing hurt it, but also I believe many Nintendo fans just didn't see the need to upgrade since there weren't enough meaningful differences in experience with the Wii U. People were ok with playing Nintendo games on the Wii,DS or even 3DS for that generation and a 2nd screen & HD graphics wasn't enough to make them shell out 300+$.

For the N64, in North America the N64 didn't really do too bad in comparison to the SNES as there was only a drop-off of 22M to 20M in that region. The 3D Graphics of Nintendo games were substantial enough to convince many Americans to upgrade, but in Japan it dealt with huge drop off with a lack of RPG 3rd party support and the market was shifting away from consoles. However, the Gamecube dropped off even more in NA from 20M to 12M, primarily cause Nintendo fans felt ok sticking to the N64 or GBA for Nintendo games.

While the 3DS sold well cause it offered the ability to play new Nintendo games at a low cost on the go, there were a good amount of current Switch fans missed out cause they just weren't as big of a fan as handheld-only experiences and prefer multiplayer console experiences that Nintendo offers with many of their games.

I think the Switch sold more than the Wii because it was able to attain much more of the Japanese market since it is a Nintendo handheld which almost automatically would make it sell 20M+ in that region, but also the option for them to play those games on the TV more appealing to them to be able to become to bestselling console in history over there.

I also think the Switch outsold the Wii globally cause it's concept will never age or get old and there is very little competition against the Switch. I believe towards the 2nd half of the Wii generation, with the PS3/Xbox 360 copying the Wii's concept, it made the Wii look less amazing to the point where I saw a good portion of Xbox/PS3 owners did not want a Wii cause they already have a Kinect or PS Move. I can't see that happening with the Switch, and more people than ever are into Nintendo games, even more than the Wii as proven by the sales numbers, so it's difficult to see anything stealing the Switch's market share without any competition to Nintendo games or hybrid consoles amongst major companies. I also think word of mouth and online play really helped the appeal of Nintendo games to so many new people to buy one, where we're seeing Nintendo franchises peak in sales on Switch.

So TLDR, it's simple, the Switch is historically successful because it's the only place you could play modern Nintendo games and the hybrid nature of the console adds so much value to the consumer since it's so versatile to appeal to any lifestyle.

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In no particular order.

1.) The hybrid concept brought Nintendo's strengths together (finally their top end AAA "big boy" console games ... but in a format that allowed for portability, as Nintendo portables have outsold their console counterparts for a while now). It also completely bypassed the whole problem of "yeah but what is the new controller gimmick?". The hybrid concept through functionality finally put solid ground under Nintendo. Switch is something every gamer could understand and see the value in while adequately differentiating the hardware from the Playstation and XBox. Like the concept just works and it doesn't require Nintendo to keep thinking about upending the table every few years. The other thing is Sony/MS can't just as easily copy it, as stated, it's not that hard to rip off motion controls for example (kinda amazing they took as long as they did on PS3/360), but the hybrid concept would require an entirely different hardware line ... not so easy to copy that. 

2.) Better marketing ... more aimed at adults. Better hardware design, it doesn't look like a toy, it looks "cool". And yeah this does matter, it didn't help the Wii U that the tablet looked like a Fisher Price "baby's first tablet", the Switch on the other hand looks like something Batman would use. The multi colored Joycons still allowed for some fun and color if you wanted it but Nintendo wisely chose to market the black/grey model as the lead model and still today the Switch OLED is a slick looking black/white combo. This is really I think the first generation where Nintendo's market feels as professional and mature as anything else Sony or MS do, the marketing just doesn't have that usual "Nintendo derp" and that's refreshing. 

3.) Maturation of Nintendo's fan base ... people who grew up with the NES/SNES/N64 are in their 30s/40s now with families of their own, even kids that grew up with a GameCube or Wii are now adults. When you stack multiple successive generations on top of each other like that, eventually you gain a massive base following so you're not at the mercy on just "well these are the kids of 2018, have to win them over starting from scratch". The rise of Nintendo's business shifting towards adults is a big factor, they have a reliable base that isn't going anywhere, that is over 18 with their own disposable income.

4.) Strong launch titles ... Zelda: BOTW, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 in the first 6 months of launch set the system up and then Mario Odyssey for the first holiday just gave the system momentum, Nintendo should aim to do the same with Switch 2. Switch had positive momentum practically from day 1 because of Zelda: BOTW and no post launch lull because of Mario Kart and Splatoon 2. And really ever since then it's been on cruise control. Working hard for the launch is more work sure, but in the big picture it's actually saving you a ton of headaches later on ... so my feeling is why try to do it any other way. Over deliver on launch, it will save you a lot of work and hassle later on, it's the difference between walking uphill vs. walking downhill, it's just so much easier. 

5.) COVID lockdowns were just a particularly fortuitous timing for Nintendo. It happened right as the Switch was in its mid-cycle strength, so it got a big boost from that. The biggest global disruption since World War II. Not only that, Nintendo had Animal Crossing ready for launch right as widespread global lockdowns were happening which was another lucky break. You couldn't really have timed it any better. 

Last edited by Soundwave - on 30 April 2023

It's a Nintendo portable console that recieved some of the biggest Nintendo titles ever created plus a level of third party support not seen in a Nintendo console since like... forever.

It is the Wii U done right. And great games.

1. The hybrid concept. While there was some overlap of 3DS getting some new first-party releases until early 2019, the Switch is combining Nintendo's portable and home libraries into one system. Now you only need to get one Nintendo system for their upcoming titles instead of two. The hybrid nature is also pretty seamless and easy to understand.
2. Games, games, games. This is probably even more important than the hybrid nature in and of itself. If you never had a Wii U, the first year of the Switch was staggering. Even if you did, you still had games not on the Wii U (Arms, Splatoon 2, Stardew Valley, Super Mario Odyssey, Skyrim, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, etc.)
3. Better marketing. Most Switch commercials are decent to impressive pieces of marketing. The Wii U ads were mostly cringy kids and their doofus parents.
4. COVID-19: Switch was the easiest to manufacture of game platforms during COVID-19, the library was already strong and growing by the time the pandemic hit. Switch also has some of the best if the not the best local multiplayer experiences of any of the current platforms. That helps appeal to families during a pandemic. We don't know where the Switch will end up in total units sold. But I have a feeling without COVID-19 it might've sold around PS4 & GB/GBC numbers. Maybe even more like Wii & PS1.

Lifetime Sales Predictions 

Switch: 161 million (was 73 million, then 96 million, then 113 million, then 125 million, then 144 million, then 151 million, then 156 million)

PS5: 115 million (was 105 million) Xbox Series S/X: 48 million (was 60 million, then 67 million, then 57 million)

PS4: 120 mil (was 100 then 130 million, then 122 million) Xbox One: 51 mil (was 50 then 55 mil)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

"Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind." - Guru Laghima

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For me the sleek hardware and UI design is just so much more appealing than the Wii U. Pretty shallow I know. Also that one-two punch of Zelda and Mario during the first year was pretty convincing.

Last edited by BonfiresDown - on 30 April 2023

It's the only dedicated handheld on the market (no I don't see Steamdeck as competition) with combined user base of Wii/Wii U/3DS and PS Vita.
It's a portable, not that expensive, much lower barrier to buy multiple. We have Switch original and Switch lite in the house and I haven't even touched either in years.
It plays Minecraft and Fortnite (which is what my youngest mostly uses the Switch lite for)
It still has the Wii appeal (my youngest still likes to play 1-2 Switch with the grandparents now and then on the original model)
And it's the only place to play all the Nintendo magic, now combined in one device.

Hmm, almost looks like a monopoly and exclusives aren't that bad?

SvennoJ said:

It's the only dedicated handheld on the market (no I don't see Steamdeck as competition) with combined user base of Wii/Wii U/3DS and PS Vita.
It's a portable, not that expensive, much lower barrier to buy multiple. We have Switch original and Switch lite in the house and I haven't even touched either in years.
It plays Minecraft and Fortnite (which is what my youngest mostly uses the Switch lite for)
It still has the Wii appeal (my youngest still likes to play 1-2 Switch with the grandparents now and then on the original model)
And it's the only place to play all the Nintendo magic, now combined in one device.

Hmm, almost looks like a monopoly and exclusives aren't that bad?

None of Minecraft, Fortnite, or the "Wii type titles" are even among the peak sellers (20+ million club) on the system though. 

Mario Kart, Zelda: BOTW, Smash, Animal Crossing, Mario Odyssey, and various Pokemon games are the main sales drivers for the Switch (all 20+ million in sales). 

Those other games help sure and have a part to play in the overall puzzle, but the above mentioned games deserve to most credit. 

I think the aging up of Nintendo's fanbase in particular has drove IP like Smash and Mario Kart to new heights and Zelda: BOTW represents a turning point that franchise achieving sales success far beyond any previous Zelda game. 3D Mario also ... once thought to the be "too complex" ... well now you see Mario Odyssey putting up 25+ million in sales, crushing Mario 64 and even Mario Galaxy in sales. Mario 3D All-Stars sold 9+ million despite only being available for a short period of time, that should really be 15+ million if Nintendo had allowed it to sell, Mario 3D World selling well also. 

What I think is happening is you're seeing successive building of multiple Nintendo fan generations who keep playing and enjoying Nintendo games well past age 18 ... this is also what's driving the Mario movie to sky high box office. 

Also maybe its anecdotal but this generation's 19-30 year olds seem very, very into Nintendo IP like Smash and Animal Crossing and what not. Like the enthusiasm is sky high. Every time I'm in a Switch section of a store, it just feels like there's a lot of 20 somethings particularly whereas in the past if felt like the Nintendo section skewed younger than that, but Nintendo's own demographic stats also seem to back this up (popularity of Switch with 20-somethings). 

I think something is happening demographically here, it's less taboo for 20-somethings to be into anime, comics (or comic based movies), etc. etc. and I think this has benefitted Nintendo too. The late 90s and 2000s could be hostile to Nintendo in this respect, but the 2020s is much warmer waters for them. 


Last edited by Soundwave - on 30 April 2023

* It's a Nintendo handheld. It was always going to do well.

* It's not looking like a Wii branded accessory.

* It took the best games from the WiiU and re-released them and sold bonkers.

* Price.

For me I think the biggest reasons why the handheld sold so well is because it appeals to everyone, moms and dads are more likely to buy one for each child on a long road trip for example to keep them entertained in the back. - Happened with me and my siblings back in the 90's with the Gameboy.

This is in stark contrast to conventional consoles that sit fixed under a TV, you only need one for the entire household.

Last edited by Pemalite - on 30 April 2023

--::{PC Gaming Master Race}::--

Hybrid concept is revolutionary