By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

Forums - Sales Discussion - Why are Nintendo Switch sales peaking much later than other Nintendo consoles?

Why would Switch act as a past Nintendo consoles when its concept and the conditions it was released are unique compared the past?
It was proved time and time again that solely basing your analysis on past trends doesn't work well for the Switch.

People are overlooking how Switch is the first truly successful everywhere Nintendo console predisposed for digital gaming in the age of social media.
This helps the word of mouth and to maximize the sales potential of software and hardware because it doesn't have past limitations (games don't need to fight for shelf space and could always be purchased at a distance of a click even years after launch, temporary discounts and media activity could prolong the visibility of a game).
Not only that but the influx of a huge quantity of games, many of which from smaller studios, released through eshop increased the chance of new hits on the platform even at a later stage meanwhile in the past it was less likely that to happen (think to the critic darling Hades and the hugely popular Among Us for a couple of recent examples).

Covid boosted gaming in general, including Switch, through out 2020 but Switch was going to be up year over year regardless because the whole ecosystem is healthy (is getting stronger instead of declining) and Animal Crossing New Horizon would have been a killer app, even if it would have sold a bit less (we are talking about a game that in its first 12 months and few days is going to sell around 35 million units on a single platform).
Animal Crossing was a 10M+ franchise before New Horizon but its sales outside Japan were always under its real potential shown looking at the sales in Japan.
Switch strong momentum and unique conditions (almost every Nintendo franchise got its best selling game on Switch) meant that Animal Crossing was ready to have its break out moment in the west regardless of Covid (which obviously amplified its reach).

Last edited by Endymion - on 22 February 2021

Around the Network
Salnax said:

I think the ongoing Software Lineup has a lot to do with this.

The following table includes games that have either sold 5+ million copies and/or were among the Top 10 best-selling games on their respective platforms (becaause we need to show some Wii U games). I'm also bolding best-sellers for each system.

DSWii3DSWii USwitch
Year 1

Big Brain Academy

Brain Age

Mario Kart DS

Nintendogs

Super Mario 64 DS

Legend of Zelda: TP

LEGO Star Wars: Complete Saga

Mario Party 8

Super Mario Galaxy

Wii Play

Wii Sports

Legend of Zelda: OoT 3D

Mario Kart 7

Super Mario 3D Land

Legend of Zelda: WW HD

New Super Luigi U

New Super Mario Bros U

Nintendo Land

Legend of Zelda: BotW

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Splatoon 2

Super Mario Odyssey

Year 2

Animal Crossing: Wild World

Brain Age 2

Cooking Mama

New Super Mario Bros

Pokemon Diamond/Pearl

Link's Crossbow Training

Mario Kart Wii

Super Smash Bros Brawl

Wii Fit

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

New Super Mario Bros 2

Mario Kart 8

Super Mario 3D World

Super Smash Bros Wii U

New Super Mario Bros U DX

Pokemon: Let's Go

Super Mario Party

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Year 3

Mario & Sonic 2008

Mario Party DS

Pokemon Platinum

New Super Mario Bros Wii

Wii Fit Plus

Wii Sports Resort

Luigi's Mansion 2

Pokemon X/Y

Tomodachi Life

Mario Party 10

Splatoon

Super Mario Maker

Luigi's Mansion 3

Pokemon SS

Ring Fit Adventure

Super Mario Maker 2

Year 4

Dragon Quest IX

Pokemon HGSS

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Just Dance 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Wii Party

Pokemon ORAS

Super Smash Bros 3DS

Animal Crossing: NH

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Hyrule Warriors: AoC (Tentative)

Year 1 is "the year following launch day" and so on, which I chose because otherwise the 3DS and Switch with their Q1 launches would look strange next to the other systems and their Q4 launches.

Note that the DS peaked circa years 3/4, the Wii circa Year 2/3, the 3DS year 2, and the Wii U in Year 2. The Switch seems to have peaked in Year 4. Also note that some games were delayed in some regions.

A few things I notice from this

  • The DS's peaking in its third and fourth years makes sense when you realize that many of the games listed in Year 2 were released later than that in the West, including Pokemon DP and Brain Age 2.
  • The Wii peaked in the years where three of its five big games came out, with only the launch window titles of Wii Sports and Wii Play not coming out in this timespan.
  • The 3DS peaked in 2012, by the end of which all its biggest titles besides Pokemon were out.
  • The Wii U peaked the year it got its three big non-bundled games.
  • The Switch has both its best-selling titles and its 5+ million sellers in general fairly evenly spread across its entire life so far. The main exceptions are the DS, which doesn't introduce any of its top sellers after Year 2, and the 3DS, which relies on Pokemon games for Years 3, 4, and 6, likely not attracting new audiences.

This basically. I want to add, that many of these big games introduce new audiences. For instance Animal Crossing had many players, that hadn't a Switch before. So I agree, that Pokemon on the 3DS didn't bring in much *new* players after the first one.

I think there is a strong possibility that even 2020 wasn't the peak though. The year starts strong, MonHun Rise shapes up to become a giant and we have still some stuff open like a new Wii Sports like title. 2022 Nintendo taps into an established userbase with Splatoon 3, but 2021 still looks like it could go very well.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

10 years greatest game event!

bets: [peak year], [1], [2], [3], [4]

For me the console design is just brilliant. We have two units in the house (one for the kids), with a dock on two different TVs. I love the flexibility of being able to move to another room, depending on what the wife/kids want to do. As a result I am playing and buying far more Switch games compared to ps4. Brilliant design.  It just gets used a lot.  

Edit

I think Nintendo is also doing an excellent job of couch coop, something Sony/MS have been doing a poor job of.  Mario Odyssey, Mario 3D World, Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin 3, Animal Crossing, Smash, Kart, Party, etc.  Multiplayer is also driving up my use of the Switch.  Playing family games on the weekend via couch coop is something I can't really get elsewhere.  Not with the variety of offerings the Switch has.

Last edited by Chrkeller - on 22 February 2021

Leynos said:

Wii also only had one thing going for it. A novelty. Novelties wear off. The switch has a practical use for its selling point. It's convenient having the ability to be both docked and handheld. As HDTVs became more common and Smartphones the less sense Wii made. Switch released just before the cloud gaming boom and it's more practical than cloud gaming IMO. I'm not saying this is the sole factor. Just an additional one to what has already been mentioned.


Yeah it's great that the novelty of motion controlled sports, fitness, dance, party and mini-game compilations has finally worn off thanks to smartphones and HDTVs.



Nov 2016 - NES outsells PS1 (JP)

Don't Play Stationary 4 ever. Switch!

Shadow1980 said:

Two reasons:

1) It probably took some time to gain more traction instead of having an initial rush because it was a new concept and Nintendo was just coming off of the Wii U.

What? We were always joking about the double helix pattern in the PS4/Switch launch aligned sales comparison articles. Because they started at different times of the year they gained the lead at different times, but that they kept repeating that was because for the initial years Switch and PS4 basically sold on the same curve. Do you really think PS4 needed time to gain more traction? Because it was a new concept and people were burned coming off the PS3? I think both consoles, Switch and PS4 started off equally strong (and PS5 seems to follow that sales curve again).

Shadow1980 said:

2) This guy right here:

Had there been no pandemic, Switch sales were likely going to be down or at best roughly flat in 2020. Hardly anybody was expecting any appreciable year-over-year gains, many if not most were expecting it to be down (at least in the U.S.), and nobody expected it to do as well as it did. Demand for consoles increased due to the pandemic and still remains elevated because of the general increase in spending on at-home entertainment, but once enough people are vaccinated and the numbers of cases are sufficiently down to where everything can safely reopen, I expect demand for the Switch to decline as pent-up demand for things like movie theaters and restaurants results in a spending spree on away-from-home events and entertainment.

I don't think that many were expecting it to be down, most people actually thought it could peak in 2020. Really, take a look:

https://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread/240375/bet-your-vg-which-year-will-the-peak-year-of-the-switch/

This was mid 2019, and the majority was betting on 2020, the amount of VG$ is bigger than any other option combined. So I don't know how you can think that most were expecting it to be down (yes, you restricted it in parantheses to the US, which makes no sense because how would people expect a 2020 peak year without the US, seeing how europe is Nintendos weak spot and Japan was very fast to adopt the Switch and probably is first to peak).

Also we can compare the effect of the pandemic between systems, and see that it does about 10%-15%. So that is not nothing and it did slow down the decline of PS4 and Xbox One, but to explain Switch's more than 40% growth you need much more than the pandemic. It is more like the pandemic slightly supported an already existing momentum.

I also don't see your prediction of sales suddenly collapsing because people can go back to museums and bars coming true. It seems not unthinkable, that 2021 is actually Switch's peak year (and nearly everyone will lose the above-linked bet). You need to look at the games, not extrinsic factors to see the momentum. Like Salnax did.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

10 years greatest game event!

bets: [peak year], [1], [2], [3], [4]

Around the Network
haxxiy said:

1. The pandemic
2. The pandemic
3. The pandemic

It doesn't take a lot of effort to look precisely at which month of 2020 sales and internet trends of the Switch started to skyrocket.

If predecessor interest was a factor then the Wii and the DS would have their sales pattern swapped around.

The month it skyrocketed was the one with a certain game with villagers and animals in it, right?



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

10 years greatest game event!

bets: [peak year], [1], [2], [3], [4]

This notion that Covid is the reason why the Switch exploded is hilarious. Sure, I'm sure it helped, but if anything it hurt it more than helped as you couldn't even find hardware to buy to begin with. In fact, the 4 week holiday shopping period (Black Friday) was down YoY (5,994,846 in 2019 vs 5,874,064 in 2020), so again, I think Covid hurt it more than helped it overall.

The sales of the Switch in 2019 were clearly an indicator that 2020 was already going to be a monster year and all indicators are that 2021 is going to be another monster year.

Last edited by scottslater - on 22 February 2021

Nintendo with the Switch:

Chrkeller said:

For me the console design is just brilliant. We have two units in the house (one for the kids), with a dock on two different TVs. I love the flexibility of being able to move to another room, depending on what the wife/kids want to do. As a result I am playing and buying far more Switch games compared to ps4. Brilliant design.  It just gets used a lot.  

Edit

I think Nintendo is also doing an excellent job of couch coop, something Sony/MS have been doing a poor job of.  Mario Odyssey, Mario 3D World, Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin 3, Animal Crossing, Smash, Kart, Party, etc.  Multiplayer is also driving up my use of the Switch.  Playing family games on the weekend via couch coop is something I can't really get elsewhere.  Not with the variety of offerings the Switch has.

This, this is why the Switch is performing so well. Many didn't realize they wanted these features.

We have 4 in our house (2 Switches and 2 Lites) with 3 docks so we can play anywhere. The Xbox and two gaming PCs just collect dust anymore because the ability to play a game anywhere whenever you want just makes it a much more clear decision on which to spend time with. Oh, wife and kids want to watch a movie, okay, I will just pick up my Switch and play for a little bit in the bedroom. Oh, road trip to the in-laws, I will bring my Switch. Try doing that with an Xbox/PlayStation/PC (disclaimer, I will never own another Sony product).

And the couch coop is a really big thing that the other gaming giants are missing, not everyone wants to play CoD online. The Switch is our go to for party games when we have visitors.

Last edited by scottslater - on 22 February 2021

Nintendo with the Switch:

There are several reasons Switch is peaking later, and most of them have been given: strong software, diverse software appealing to different people, etc....  However, there is another big reason that no one has mentioned yet.

Switch started Generation 9 on the early side.  Most gamers in 2017 were not ready to buy a Switch yet.  In 2017 the PS4 was still going strong, so all of those PS4 gamers really had no need for a new system. In 2018, PS4 had a fantastic year for software (and Switch's software was kinda meh until the end of the year).  But in 2019-2020, that was about the time people were ready to move on to another system. 

A similar thing happened with the Genesis.  It launched at a time when the NES was selling extremely well, and so it didn't sell a whole lot during the first couple of years.  However, around the time the SNES was released, the Genesis started to really sell and ended up being tough competition for the SNES in NA and Europe.  The Genesis had a slow start because it released early, but once Generation 4 got going, so did Genesis sales.  The Switch is doing the same type of thing.

Switch sales in 2017 were actually pretty low compared to what they are now.  The years 2017 and 2018 were actually Switch's slow period.  They seemed high at the time, because most people on this site had very low expectations for the Switch and also had no idea just how high it would peak.  But now that we see how well the Switch is actually selling, it should be clear that people needed a couple of years before they bought a Switch.  Think back to 2017.  It had a lot of fantastic software like Zelda, Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8, Odyssey, etc....  All of those games are still selling well.  All of those games are still selling the Switch.  If those 2017 games have that kind of selling power, then maybe 2017 was on the low side.  People just weren't ready yet.  They needed to be done with the PS4 before they could be ready to enjoy the Switch.

Last edited by The_Liquid_Laser - on 22 February 2021

curl-6 said:
haxxiy said:

It doesn't take a lot of effort to look precisely at which month of 2020 sales and internet trends of the Switch started to skyrocket.

If predecessor interest was a factor then the Wii and the DS would have their sales pattern swapped around.

Yeah, no, the pandemic is just one  contributing factor of many, not at all solely responsible.

Yeah no, the pandemic is the sole contributing factor, others were not responsible at all.

See how your line of argumentation works?

I wonder how smart you felt when typing your reply...