For a while there, it was all doom and gloom for Nintendo.
Following the smash success of the Wii, the Japanese game maker attempted to innovate further, riffing off the Wii’s success with the ungainly (and poorly named) Wii U.
The system, which you hooked up to your TV but came with a gamepad that included a screen, was massively underrated as far as I’m concerned. It had some excellent games, and you could play them either on the TV or on the screen or in cool asymmetrical scenarios where the player with the controller saw things the players on the TV couldn’t see.
But it was underpowered compared to its Sony and Microsoft cousins, and it was poorly marketed, and the name rhymed with “pee-ew” and, well, it bombed. In fact, it sold just 13.56 million units worldwide between 2012 and 2017.
At the time, many argued that Nintendo should abandon hardware altogether and make games for its rivals and the mobile market. With mixed success, Nintendo has entered the mobile market. Thankfully they never got into the business of making Mario games for PlayStation or Zelda for Xbox One.
Instead, the company rather brilliantly did exactly what I said they should do first in 2013 and again in 2014: Create a hybrid console that’s both portable and can hook up to your TV.
Some years later, we have the Nintendo Switch. Not only is it a novel concept with a great design, Nintendo has been pumping out quality games ever since launch. Instead of developing for two systems (the 3DS and Wii U) the company can simply make as many great games as possible for the Switch, saving time and money and bringing Pokemon to your TV.
This has paid off bit time. Nintendo announced today that the company has sold 15 million units in North America alone, already surpassing the Wii U’s global sales.
Nintendo also announced successful software sales, unsurprisingly. 14 of its own first-party titles have achieved more than 1 million in sales in North America, and four have crossed the 6 million line. Those four are:
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
It seems likely that Pokemon Sword & Shield will join this echelon.
All told, Nintendo has had remarkable success with the Switch, proving critics wrong in the process. Sure, the Wii U was a disaster, but at least Nintendo learned from its mistakes. The Nintendo Switch is currently one of the fastest-selling video game systems of all time, and it shows no signs of slowing.