In 2006, Nintendo launched its biggest-selling home console of all time. The Nintendo Wii was a platform that hosted new gaming experiences, new motion controls and family-gathering experiences that shocked the gaming world.
In 2009/2010, the Wii was riding the peak of its popularity, with big-hitters like Donkey Kong Country Returns (6.50m), Wii Sports Resort (32.90m), Wii Fit Plus (21.82m), Just Dance (7.21m, 9.45m, 10.14m, 6.89m, 3.89m), New Super Mario Bros Wii (28.51m), Wii Party (10m), Super Mario Galaxy 2 (7.57m), Zumba Fitness (6.76m), Michael Jackson: The Experience (4.37m), Epic Mickey (3.02m), Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition (2.62m), Lego Harry Potter (2.45m), Udraw Studio (2.44m), Monster Hunter Tri (2.23m), Kirby's Epic Yarn (2.09m) and more.
But from 2011 onward, other than the beautifully romantic yet underwhelming (sales-wise) Skyward Sword, there were few games that managed to captivate the Wii ownerbase and maintain the popularity of the Wii brand. Some exceptions are 3rd party sure-sellers like Just Dance 3, 4, 2014, 2015, Mario & Sonic 2012 (in partnership with Sega), Skylanders, Zumba fitness 2, Mario Sports Mix (in partnership with Square Enix), Disney Infinity, Lego (Pirates, Star Wars), Go Vacation and some other 3rd-party sellers that made it over 1.5m. But when it came to 1st-party games, there were only 3 over-1.5m sellers when counting Mario Party 9 (3.20m) and Kirby's return to dreamland (1.66m).
Fast-forward past the misbranded Wii U to the Nintendo Switch. This amazing gadget combines AAA Nintendo home-console experiences with the convenience and bite-sized gaming of the portable line. So far, the Switch has had a steady release of games, and a high, stable sales momentum. Kick-started with the legendary Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the console gained a snowball momentum over time to have already sold 56m units to date (since its release on March 3rd 2017), and has enjoyed juggernaut releases such as Smash Ultimate, Pokemon S/S and Super Mario Odyssey.
Enter 2020, the year of the Corona Virus. For the past two months, little has been heard from Nintendo about new 1st party launches after Animal Crossing. While AC is a hugely popular release that will allow the Switch to sustain popularity over the coming quiet rest of 2020, it feels like there is a pause, a silence, and something to come. In end of May and early June, the switch is expecting some nice releases alongside the early months of Animal Crossing, such as Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, three 2K trilogy packs in the worlds of Borderlands, Bioshock and XCom, and a number of interesting games on the e-shop. Also, Barevely Default II is releasing in late 2020. Still it seems as though the Switch is expecting some kind of 2nd wave.
Enter Breath of the Wild 2. The game is expected to come out after 2020, most likely in mid 2021. Since the game is built on the same engine as BotW and is a direct sequel, it should not be too long until people can get their eager hands on it. On the Mario side of things, many people are also expecting a number of games to be rereleased for the 35th anniversary of Mario that is happening this year. Due to delays that may have been caused by the Corona virus (some reports have said that Japan is struggling to maintain productivity with the work-from-home setup), we might see them instead in 2021. Metroid Prime 4 is expected to come out in either 2021 or 2022 (thanks Rol for the correction: the game was announced in 2019 to have been restarted by Retro). And of course there's Bayo 3!! (thanks aiko 😅) It is also interesting that when games don't come out, we know that the Nintendo studios are busy churning new games.
From a hardware perspective, it is also expected that the Switch's successor may not be a new platform but rather a major hardware revision which would allow new capabilities in games but support the original version hardware and games. These expectations, along with the release of BotW2 in 2021, would suggest that the management at Nintendo would be worlds away from reproducing the same error that we saw with the Wii from 2011-2013 by abandoning the platform to uncommitted 3rd party partners. Perhaps instead we will be seeing a new "soft" launch, characterized by a new wave of software led by Breath of the Wild 2. In that scenario, the switch would maintain another life-cycle mid-term and perhaps enjoy the longevity of legendary consoles such as the gameboy and the NES. Show your vote about this in the poll!