More than six months after its launch, Nintendo’s hybrid console is still flying off the shelves. The Japanese company said in its latest six-month (Apr-Sept) earnings report that it sold roughly 2.9 million Switch units during the July-Sept quarter. It means Nintendo has shipped more than 7.6 million Switch consoles since its launch in March. The massive Nintendo Switch success can be attributed to two key factors.
Nintendo has increased its year-end Switch sales estimate from 10 million to 14 million units, which seems conservative considering the Switch would be one of the hottest holiday gifts this year. It puts the Switch on track to beat the lifetime sales of Wii U in just one year. Wii U had sold 13.56 million units in its lifetime. Nintendo’s last mega-hit console Wii sold 20 million units in its first year and more than 100 million units during its lifetime.
The first reason behind the Nintendo Switch success is its hybrid design. You can connect it to a TV, or you can take it on the go to play anytime and anywhere. People love to have that choice. Nintendo now has concrete data to show that consumers have fallen in love with the Switch’s dual-purpose design. The company’s six-month report includes a graph that exhibits the usage stats.
Nintendo was able to track the Switch usage patterns through the registered Nintendo accounts. According to the graph, only 18% customers play the console “primarily” in TV mode. There are roughly 30% users play “primarily” in the tabletop or handheld mode. About 52% users play in both modes. Nintendo defines “primarily” as users who spend more than 80% of their play time in one particular mode.
Versatility is a key part of the Nintendo Switch success. The graph shows that most players don’t ignore one mode for the other. They are “playing to suit their own styles,” said Nintendo. With the Switch, Nintendo has fixed everything that was wrong with the deeply flawed Wii U. Nintendo of America chief Reggie Fils-Aime said in a recent interview that the Switch “would not be what it is if we had not done the Wii U in advance.”
Neither Sony nor Microsoft has popular hybrid consoles to compete with the Nintendo Switch. Sony recently said that it had no plans to launch a hybrid console. Sony has a handheld console called PlayStation Vita, which hasn’t been updated in several years. The PS Vita has been a big disappointment for Sony.
Another reason behind the Nintendo Switch success is its impressive lineup of first-party games. Of course, there are tons of impressive third-party titles as well. But it was the popularity of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that drew, and is still drawing, customers to the Switch. The Breath of the Wild sold about 3 million copies in the first month, which means almost every Switch buyer purchased the game. Many had started referring to the Switch as the “Zelda machine.”
The newly released Super Mario Odyssey has sold more than two million units worldwide in just three days. It is now the biggest Nintendo Switch title launch ever. According to the Chart-Track of the UK, the Super Mario Odyssey has also inspired a 64% increase in the sales of Nintendo Switch consoles. During the upcoming holiday season, the new title would help attract more gamers to the Switch.
There are more than 200 titles available on the Switch now. Reggie Fils-Aime says it’s not just about the number of titles but the “steady cadence of great games.” When people buy a new console, they want to ensure that it has “great content to play.” Nintendo wants the Super Mario Odyssey to become an “evergreen title” that can sustain beyond this holiday season.
The popular first-party titles give Nintendo Switch a distinct advantage over rivals. Microsoft or Sony will not be able to bring Zelda or Super Mario titles on their respective consoles. Nintendo’s combination of hybrid design and an impressive list of wildly popular exclusive titles will be difficult to replicate by rivals. The Switch will get many other titles in the near future such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Breath of the Wild DLC.
Nintendo’s profits and stock price have been rising sharply following the Switch launch. The stock has gone up from $25 on March 2 to $48.65 on October 31. The video game maker has announced that it was doubling its full-year operating profit forecast on the back of Nintendo Switch success. Supply shortages for the console have begun to ease as Nintendo has doubled production.
Nintendo expects profits of 120 billion yen ($1.06 billion) for the current fiscal year ending March 2018, up from the previous estimate of 65 billion yen. The Japanese company said strong Switch sales and a weaker yen were driving its profits.