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.