Nintendo Switch is Off to a Strong Start

Posted on April 27, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 23 Comments

Nintendo Switch is Off to a Strong Start

Nintendo announced a “promising start” for its new Switch video game console: The firm sold 2.74 million units in March and expects to sell another 10 million consoles in its first year in the market.

“Nintendo Switch, a new home console system that diversifies the ways you can play games, launched during this period on March 3 worldwide and is off to a promising start,” a Nintendo annual earnings report notes. “The sales volume for hardware during this period reached 2.74 million units.”

To put Switch in perspective, Nintendo has only sold 13.6 million Wii U consoles in almost five years in the market, so this is a nice turnaround. And the firm has a chance to overcome Xbox One for this console generation as well: Microsoft’s console has struggled compared to the PlayStation 4, and has sold an estimated 20-25 million units since late 2013. But Sony appears to have a lock on first place, with PS4 sales somewhere north of 55 million units now.

A second place finish would suit Nintendo just fine, I bet, given its also-ran status since the wildly popular Wii, which fizzled out quickly after reaching incredible heights over just a few years. (Nintendo has sold over 100 million original Wii consoles.)

In fact, the biggest issue facing the Switch is availability: Nintendo still hasn’t fulfilled all of its preorders and the console is routinely sold out. That it was able to sell 2.74 million units, and in a non-holiday quarter no less, is rather astonishing.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed: Wii U has crashed and burned after a strong start, selling over 3 million units in its first 6 weeks in the market in 2013. But if Nintendo comes through on its first-year expectations, the Switch will have sold almost as many consoles in one year as the Wii U has over five years. Sorry, haters.

Switch software is likewise off to a great start. The new Legend of Zelda title sold 2.76 million units, meaning that some buyers are still waiting on the hardware so they can actually play the game. And Nintendo expects to sell about 35 million Switch games, overall, in the coming fiscal year.

In a related note, Nintendo’s first AAA mobile game title, Super Mario Run, is about the cross the 150 million download threshold as well. That game launched on iPhone back in late 2016 and then on Android in March.

 

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Nintendo Switch is Off to a Strong Start”

  1. wizarrc

    Paul, you do know that the new Zelda title is available on the Wii U as well as the Switch? That could explain why they sold more copies of the game than consoles. Everyone that bought the console pretty much bought the game because it's like the only good one out there for the Switch, but the game plays just fine on the Wii U, which still has 13 million consoles out there.

  2. 2ilent8cho

    I'm tempted as the Switch has something that Microsoft did an amazing job of on the Xbox and Xbox 360 then they just let it die and don't care about anymore instead of pushing developers to include (and wonder why i wont buy an Xbox One....)


    Local Multiplayer/System Link!!!


    I know most play online, but you only have to go on reddit to see there are still people who want LAN game mode.


    It also seems a much better social gaming console, few mates round, drinks, pizza and split screen, another thing both the Xbox One and PS4 seem to be lacking in terms of game type. We use the previous gen consoles more as they have more titles for playing with 4 controllers.

  3. Tony Barrett

    I'm not so sure this will go exactly the way Nintendo hopes (the Wii U got off to a 'strong start', but then literally died). There are a lot of Nintendo fans who will buy the Switch automatically, no question. Serious gamers will look at the XB or PS4. Casual gamers will probably stick to their phones. Once the hard-core Nintendo people have bought there's, who's left? I fear sales will slow considerably after a few months, and this is with Sony just announcing 60m PS4 sales! The Switch is flexible, but looks like a toy, and Nintendo just seem to believe re-hashing their classic characters (Mario & Zelda) will keep people coming back.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Tony Barrett: Nah, have you seen the Switch in person? I don't mean the red blue joycons version but the version with dark grey joy cons. It does not look like a toy at all, it looks very nicely refined.
      It also instantly makes me wish all at least smaller tablets would have such joy con attachments so one could control more in depth (not single touch) controls games properly on them.

      The one part i agree with is that sure, sales will go a bit slower after a few months, because that is bound to happen with all consoles after the launch hype.
      But i disagree with you overall, i think Ninti has a winner with this one.
      It is a really quality device and it is really a great feature to be able to play on the tv but also on the go or in bed and not some throwaway junk mobile game but really full console/pc quality gameplay stuff.

      I also think many "serious gamers" as you mentioned them actually get several platforms to get the best games on each as much as they can. I have my PC for (next to work) my Steam library and high end VR stuff, too, and the other home consoles i get for their exclusives and the Switch for it's exclusives and also playing on the go and in bed.
      Most in bed actually because playing zelda in bed after a day of coding is great.
      I also think Nintendo can do a lot via the price there, over time they will of course reduce the price once manufacturing costs go down, in the meanwhile they just released a new 2DS XL to have a good offering for the most price conscious audience, too in the meantime.

      So yeah, things can always change, but my bets are on Ninti has a winner with this one.


  4. irfaanwahid

    Super Mario Run still not available in my country, Kenya on iOS. I wonder what sort of limitation Nintendo has to release a mobile game internationally. Sometimes this cross border stuff really sucks, eg, Groove Music not available here but Apple Music is.

  5. Auronj

    Paul every time this subject comes up the xbox sales are always "20 - 25 million" for like the past 2 years. but i just did a quick google and it looks like its safer to assume 28 to 32 million now.


    http://www.vgchartz.com


    but since ms hasn't said anything for years its anyones guess, i just highly doubt xbox sales have remained dead for years at 25 million, this year alone the xbox has sold 1 million consoles.

  6. jamiet

    The Switch is a nice device. It deserves to sell well, and it should, because Wii U was a disappointment. Fans wanted better hardware and the Switch is that system.

  7. pesos

    +1 on the pro controller


    The joycons are pieces of chit. Unusable at any reasonable distance away from the console and be sure not to put your knees up in front of you or anything - no line of sight = no worky. Pro controller works great but of course drives up the price. Joycons are fine when attached to the unit used in portable mode.


    BOTW is fantastic.

  8. scd147

    Keep in mind that the Wii U got a big launch bump because it was released around the holidays of 2012. The Switch still has a big Mario game and the 2017 holiday season ahead of it. I believe/hope that this is the Nintendo renaissance, they finally stopped their "get them while their young" ads and corporate focus and remembered that the ones who loved them originally are all grown up and should be marketed to directly. Don't worry Xbox, your place under my TV is secure. In fact because of the Xbox pass through every hour I use the Switch docked, I'm also sort of gaming on Xbox... perhaps vicariously? Anyway, not saying that they will win this generation or anything like that, but the mobile aspect is a game changer... no pun intended. They set the bar high for themselves with this new Zelda title. The quality is there, but they need to keep it up. That being said, totally fair when it comes to all the comments about things they need to / should refine in the hardware itself.

  9. StudBen

    This hybrid console thing not a new concept by any stretch. Being a biz Zelda fan I bought one not expecting much, but man the design is great, not without it's flaws obviously. But I feel Nintendo really nailed this one. I haven't bought a Nintendo Console since the GameCube, I am more a PC gamer these days, I played with both the Wii and Wii U and was never impressed. But I feel as a portable this plays great then being able to just play on the big screen so simply is great, I've done all the gimmicks before too Xbox smart glass, PS4 remote play on the Vita which is actually pretty decent. But this just feels right. I feel this is the evolution that Nintendo has been going for, yes we'd all like to see little refinements here and there and that will be true of any product, I'm not saying this is for everyone but for myself, I find myself asking why can't I play EVERY game on this, I feel they hit just the right amount of GPU for this hybrid design, it's obviously going to have it's issues on high high demand AAA titles that you likely won't see come out on it, but for me all those indie Steam games I buy I will defiantly being picking up on the Switch instead. I just hope this can find enough third party support seems to be off on a better track in that regard then the Wii U was it's a great design I feel so hopefully it gets the software to support it.

  10. chaad_losan

    I'll wait for the Switch 2.0. That was they can fix all the issues the current console has.

  11. Mike_Peluso

    As a Switch User it's Classic Nintendo.  It's a great console and unique concept that needs more polish. Every time I get first generation hardware from Nintendo I always ask myself, why can’t they just hire someone from Apple and let them give it a once over?


    Examples of issues that drive me nuts are:


    Pro controller does not have a headphone jack (every other major console controller and even the Roku has one).

    Used last generation process tech. It gets hot and has limited battery life compared to if they used Pascal architecture. Not sure about how much the latest ARM would stack up next to PS4/Xbox1, but being closer would definitely help the 3rd party AAA porting situation.


    Kickstand is horrible. Every PC maker on the face of the earth has figured out how to Ape the Surface kickstand and have been doing so for years.   Why couldn’t Nintendo?  Another example: the inability to charge it when in kickstand mode?

    Docking station scratch issues, Console cost, etc..     


    WiFi issues because they selected a chip with known problems. 


    Nintendo generally gets this right over time… Think GBA vs. GBA SP, or original DS vs. DL lite. Then there is 3DS vs. New 3DSxL (no more issues with 3D). I just wish they would get it correct the first go around. It’s obvious where the system needed to be. Honestly, I think it was rushed to market to get away from the Wii U as quickly as possible. 


     I’m going to play Zelda, see if my Son is into Mario Kart, and if not.. the thing is going back on eBay by Christmas. It’ll be revised to Gen 2 before there is another Zelda game I want to play anyway. 

  12. Daekar

    I was a Switch doubter when it came out. When I read the reviews I was a doubter. When I was gifted one by my brother, I was a doubter. When I opened the box I was a doubter. When I used it, I became a believer.


    My entire gaming budget has since been redirected to the Switch, with my more-capable PC and Steam library completely neglected. I honestly never expected this to happen.


    Zelda is amazing. If their first-party titles continue to be only half this good, the Switch is going to have quite a nice selection to choose from. The real question for me now is how they handle their subscription service and how the virtual console shakes out. If I can buy my favorite previous titles and have them tied to my Nintendo account in perpetuity, well... there will be little hope of anybody breaking Nintendo's grip on me for quite a while.

    • SDreamer

      In reply to Daekar:

      Same boat. I dismissed it as some other gimmicky thing when I first watched the annoucement. I would read about it daily, about how awesome Zelda was, etc. I've never finished a Zelda game, in fact the first one I played was TP (grew up on Sega). I just couldn't help but notice how much praise this little system was getting. It grew on me. Then last night, after passing by the Switch display, and accepting it would be empty before I even got there, lo-and-behold, there was one Switch. Took it as a sign. Snatched it up before anyone else can come by and see it, got Zelda and 1-2-Switch, and off I went.

      It really is an awesome portable little console that doubles as a home console. Controls were smaller, but still worked. 1-2-Switch is a miserable mess of demo mini games that should have come with the console like WiiSports did to demo it, can't believe I bought this still, but its darn fun.

  13. rameshthanikodi

    I'm really heartened by this news, I think the Switch is a meaningful innovation in consoles, if more AAA games arrive on the platform, i'll definitely buy it. I'll also add that Xbox Scorpio seems to be shaping up to bringing meaningful innovation to consoles as well (variable refresh rate support!!!!1).

  14. scd147

    Love my Switch, and Zelda is amazing. Honestly though, if your planning on picking one up, be sure to add $80 to your purchase budget because the Pro Controller is a necessity.

  15. scd147

    As I understand the Zelda thing, some people are buying up copies as collectables. Sounds like old cartridge based thinking to me, which makes sense since the Switch uses cartridges. After all (not saying it will sell for this) but an unopened copy of Zelda Ocarina of Time for the N64 is posted at $850 on Ebay.

  16. Darmok N Jalad

    I'll be curious to see how it does as well. I hear the Zelda game is awesome, but the first party titles have never really been a concern for Nintendo. They try to innovate with their controller mechanisms and form factors, but that often comes at the expense of processing power or by limiting third party ports. Will Nintendo ever get to a place where it is the primary console people own, or will it always be a satellite console to PS or Xbox?

  17. Waethorn

    Is she a walking advertisement for Splatoon, or what?

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