Since the Switch was first announced Nintendo fans and industry insiders alike have pondered how the system would do. The company seemed to strike gold with the Wii, but its follow-up, the Wii U could never get over a lackluster release. Many wondered whether lightning would strike again for Nintendo or if the system would continue a slide into irrelevancy in the console market. Well, the first sales numbers are in. It seems like things are looking up for Nintendo in the Switch era!
Two-day sales for the system’s release are said to be the best numbers seen by any console upon immediate release. The NES, SNES, N64, and Wii, all of them have apparently fallen to the Switch. At least, in terms of two-day sales following the release. As of writing Nintendo has yet to release solid numbers. We can only say that it sold better than the Wii, but even in that case we only know that the Wii moved 600,000 consoles within the first 8 days of its launch.
This success has largely been attributed to the strength of the console’s premier launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This game is one of the best received in the franchise’s history. No mean feat, given the fact that the Zelda games have long been one of Nintendo’s most critically acclaimed systems. Breath of the Wild’s sales break a record that has stood for over 20 years, finally outselling Super Mario 64.
Remember, Super Mario 64 came out two decades and three console generations again. It should be noted that the sales numbers this record is based on do not include the sales of games bundled with systems. Therefore, package deals like the Wii U launch title Nintendo Land are not in the running. Still, it’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s important for fans and industry members alike to temper their excitement. These numbers are just for the first two days, and while they represent a triumph a truly successful system requires more sustained growth.
It’s entirely possible that these dramatic figures will represent a peak that will quickly crash down to Wii U levels and put Nintendo back on shaky ground. It’s also possible that sales will continue to go strong as people look forward to upcoming Nintendo titles like Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey. The hope is that these figures will be encouraging to third party developers who are eying the Switch with a combination of excitement and caution.
Nintendo has long suffered from issues in this regard; the number one reason for lackluster Wii U sales was middling third party support. Nintendo has maintained a reputation for releasing fun and innovative games, but it can’t always convince other developers to bring their talents to their systems. This can be explained by the double-edged nature of Nintendo’s console philosophy.
While other console makers approach new systems in the way that computer makers might Nintendo tends to treat its consoles more like toys. They aren’t satisfied with a beefier CPU and improved graphics card, Nintendo tries out new features. The Wii is the system that gave us motion control, and its success in this arena hasn’t been duplicated even as Microsoft and Sony have released their motion control options.
This innovation attracts users to Nintendo platforms but can make third parties wary. Fans of Playstation and Xbox consoles may argue that the systems are drastically different, but a simple look at the controls will show that there is plenty of overlap between the systems. A game that plays well on the latest Xbox will probably play well on the latest Playstation, encouraging developers to ensure that they port their games to both systems.
Things get more complicated with Nintendo systems; it can be difficult to take full advantage of the features these systems are built around and given the consoles’ smaller user share it isn’t always worth the entry price. Part of Nintendo’s current success with the Switch is likely because they recognize the Wii U’s struggles. They have gone out of their way to attract third party developers.
One unique strategy is their indie push, Nintendo wants to be as attractive to indie developers as possible. Just take a look at the release month lineup, which includes indie darlings like The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+, I Am Setsuna, and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. Nintendo is dedicated to providing Switch owners with the best catalog possible. This can be further seen if you take a look at the list of upcoming games.
Soon gamers will be able to play Stardew Valley, Farming Simulator 18, Minecraft: Switch Edition, and Yooka-Laylee on the Switch. Support from larger companies is still up in the air but the Switch already looks to be a good investment based on the strength of the first party and indie games. No one can say what the ultimate fate of the Switch will be, but it’s safe to say that it is off to a solid start. Nintendo continues to carve out a niche based on the idea that consoles should be more than just gaming PCs that hook up to the TV.
With a range of new features and a focus on local multiplayer, the Switch is a further evolution in Nintendo’s overarching gaming philosophy. As of writing gamers around the world are falling in love with Nintendo magic once more as they dive into the living world of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With Mario on his way, it’s easy to imagine the Switch phenomenon continuing to build.