Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Why Switch could be Nintendo's second most successful generation ever, based on software sales.

I believe the answer is yes, and quite easily.  It is often talked about that since Nintendo only has one hybrid device, they are still losing money when compared to other generations where they had both a dedicated home console and a handheld if it cannot match the hardware sales of both devices combined.  Well this simply does not seem to be the case.  Sure they will lose a little bit when it comes to per unit sold, but as we all know the bulk of a company's profit will come from software sales rather than hardware.

So the real question is actually will it sell as much or more SOFTWARE than previous generations, rather than can it match hardware sales.  The reason for this being that many people who bought one hardware, often also bought the other (like GC and GBA for example).  With the libraries not being shared, software was divided amongst the two platforms.  With the Switch however the same amount of households will have one with less total units sold, which leads to software sales potential being the same or greater due to a shared library for their console and handheld games.  Lets look at a few examples...

In the previous generation WiiU plus 3DS sold about 89 million in hardware, but only about 486 million in software.  The Switch alone, in half the time of the 3DS itself, is already at 356 million in software with little more than half the install base.  Given that the Switch will likely pass 100 mil within its life in hardware sales, this number will only continue to increase at a rate that makes it a safe bet to assume it will pass WiiU and 3DS.  This is obviously because while there is less hardware on the market, the software is no longer divided between two platforms.

Ah but I can hear some people now..."Why not compare it to Wii and DS!?"

Well the reason for that is the same reason people do not guage success for the PS4 based on the PS2 (though the specifics differ).  Due to timing and a lighting in a bottle strategy, many factors led to why the Wii and DS sold so much combined.  The software library was not only aimed at "core gamers" but also many very casual gamers that have since moved on to phone games.  This extra influx of consumers led to many more casual titles like Wii Fit and Wii Sports to sell in droves, which is the source of the inflates software sales.  Now there are other factors as well, but the point is clear to everyone at this point.  Much like we will never see PS2 numbers when it comes to home consoles, Wii/DS numbers combined will always remain out of reach.

So lets look at a few more then, software only as this is what the thread is really all about...

GC plus GBA = about 586 mil units

N64 plus GB = about 626 mil units

SNES plus GB = about 880 mil units

NES was by itself at = about 500 mil units

But wait, there is a bit more to it.  The Game Boy spanned 2 consecutive console cycles, so those two generations are not accurate at face value.  What we can do to get a rough idea however, is divid the GB's 501 units by how well it sold during each time period.  This puts the GB at 200 mil and 300 mil software units for SNES and N64 (rough estimate).  So in reality, it is more like...

N64 plus GB = 524 mil

SNES plus GB = 583 mil

So as you can see, if the Switch even passes 700 mil software units sold it will have successfully been more of a hit than EVERY generation of combined Nintendo handheld and console releases in terms of software sales (where most of the profit is found).  The only exception to this, is of course, Wii and DS.

So having said that, the fixation on whether or not Switch will match combined hardware sales of home and portable devices is null and void.  What really matters is the software sales, in which case Nintendo is more successful than ever with the Switch alone.  This also shows that without a shadow of a doubt, going with a hybrid device is perhaps the smartest decision they have ever made.

So what do you all think?  Will Switch pass 700 mil in total software sales and become Nintendo's second most successful generation, or will it fall short of that mark and why?  Personally I feel Switch will match what the Wii and DS did on their own, and break 900 mil or even a billion software units sold.

Source for sales data:

https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/hard_soft/

EDIT:

Corrected a mistake I made where I had GB split into the NES generation as well.  Thank you Conina for the correction and info!

Last edited by Shiken - on 24 May 2020

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Shiken said:

So lets look at a few more then, software only as this is what the thread is really all about...

GC plus GBA = about 586 mil units

N64 plus GB = about 626 mil units

SNES plus GB = about 880 mil units

NES plus GB = about 1001 mil units

But wait, there is a bit more to it.  The Game Boy spanned 3 consecutive console cycles, so those three generations are not accurate at face value.  What we can do to get a rough idea however, is divid the GB's 501 units by three.  This puts the GB at 167 software units per gen (rough estimate).  So in reality, it is more like...

N64 plus GB = 391 mil

SNES plus GB = 546 mil

NES plus GB = 667 mil

You shouldn't split the GB software sales evenly in three generations.

267 million GB games were sold in FY3/1998 and above, so ~300 million GB games were sold in the N64 era.

The GB software sales before the SNES launch are probably benign, so I would count 190 - 200 million GB games to the SNES era and ~300 million GB games to the N64 era.

922m Wii + 949m DS = 1871m

209m GC + 377m GBA = 586m

225m N64 + ~300m GB = 525m

379m SNES + ~190m GB = 569m

500m NES + ~11m GB = 511m

So 600m should be enough for Switch to be on second place, not 700m.

Last edited by Conina - on 24 May 2020

Conina said:
Shiken said:

So lets look at a few more then, software only as this is what the thread is really all about...

GC plus GBA = about 586 mil units

N64 plus GB = about 626 mil units

SNES plus GB = about 880 mil units

NES plus GB = about 1001 mil units

But wait, there is a bit more to it.  The Game Boy spanned 3 consecutive console cycles, so those three generations are not accurate at face value.  What we can do to get a rough idea however, is divid the GB's 501 units by three.  This puts the GB at 167 software units per gen (rough estimate).  So in reality, it is more like...

N64 plus GB = 391 mil

SNES plus GB = 546 mil

NES plus GB = 667 mil

You shouldn't split the GB software sales evenly in three generations.

267 million GB games were sold in FY3/1998 and above, so ~300 million GB games were sold in the N64 era.

The GB software sales before the SNES launch are probably benign, so I would count ~200 million GB games to the SNES era and ~300 million GB games to the N64 era.

N64 plus GB = 524 mil

SNES plus GB = 583 mil

NES = 500 mil

Thank you for that info, and this goes to further show what Nintendo's actual baseline is for software sales with combined platforms of each respective generation.  With a much more steady baseline, it highlights just how much of an anomaly the Wii and DS generation truly was as well.



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The Switch will be the second best selling generation for Nintendo, software-wise, there is absolutely no doubt about that. A huge success story.

BUT there is no beating around the bush that they remained with a single platform, so they are going forward in fairly uncharted territory. So the "null and void" part is neither null nor void. Nintendo had to transform in a certain way to survive, and sacrifices were made. Was it a good decision? Absolutely, for the time being.



I think the Switch has a very good shot at becoming the first Nintendo console to break 1 billion games shipped, since it's currently a bit ahead of the DS aligned which had shipped 330 mil games after 3 years (end of 2007).
The Wii was way ahead with an absolutely ridicolous 510 mil in its first 3 years, but as we all know that ended up being quite front loaded. As things look now the Switch is more likely to follow a similair sales trend as the DS, and with many 1st party games having stronger legs than ever I think 1 bil is quite doable.

And yes that would indeed make it Nintendo's second most succesful generation and perhaps the Switch their most succesful singular system, even if it doesn't hit the hardware numbers of the DS.



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We are witnessing the real danger of troll posts in the comment sections of articles: Forum threads that are made with good intentions, but are actually not much better than what they try to refute when it comes to the details.

Thread title should have used the verb "will" instead of "could." The GB breakdown in particular is terrible; the GB with its Color revision spanned two generations, not three, because the GB launched in 1989 when the fourth gen was already underway. That kind of mistake is hardly better than what you've been trying to refute, because the guy that led you to making this thread claimed that Switch is in the same gen as the Wii U and 3DS, and comparing those three to the Wii and DS shows a decline for Nintendo. But Switch is gen 9, so it constitutes growth over the previous gen.

Anyway, the full picture here (article comments and this thread) made my head hurt.



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I agree with you. The Switch is getting a lot of worthwhile content that people want from Nintendo and third parties. A long with more people than ever buying a Nintendo console for more than just a few games.



     

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It definitely can and will. I'm guessing it will break 1B pieces of software sold as a single platform.



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Updated OP to correct the mistake I made with the Gameboy's respective generations, to make it easier for people just now jumping in to follow.



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How much of Wii software sales comes from bundled games?