At this point in time, I have yet to purchase a Nintendo Switch…but, to be honest, I kind of want to. I’m having some major FOMO with Nintendo’s newest console, especially considering the rapturous response that both Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild received in the past year. I just feel incomplete as a gamer by not playing both games, what with Game of the Year Awards coming around, and both games seemingly taking every prize. There’s no other way to say it — not having a Nintendo Switch makes me feel like I am missing out on a big part of video games…which is the first time I can say that about something released by Nintendo in quite a while. And looking at these newly released Nintendo Switch sales numbers, I am far from the only one who probably has that opinion.
As revealed by Nintendo themselves, the Switch recently pushed over ten million total units in worldwide sales. That number was likely achieved through very strong Black Friday sales, which I can personally bear witness to — during my Black Friday shopping, I witnessed a whole lot of carts with Nintendo Switches (Switchii?) in them, with giant displays set up simply to supply for what seemed to be a heavy demand for the handheld/console combo. But even putting Black Friday aside, the Nintendo Switch has sold pretty well since its release in March…though it’s important to contextualize those numbers just a little bit.
Passing ten million units sold in 10 months is pretty good, but it’s not quite a record-breaking number or anything. In fact, the Nintendo Switch is only slightly ahead of where Microsoft was in sales of its Xbox One after a year of release, and those numbers were widely seen as a disappointment at the time. And both were outpaced by the initial sales of the Playstation 4, which passed the 10 million mark nine months into its release.
Still though, a lot of the conclusions made by the number crunching can mostly be viewed through the prism of expectation: the Playstation 4 was seen as a huge seller not just because it sold a bunch, but because it outpaced its predecessor by a substantial amount (don’t forget that, in the final days of the Playstation 3, it was dead last in terms of sales.) The Xbox One, comparatively, was seen as a sales disappointment, even though it still pushed an impressive amount of consoles…just not as many as the powerhouse that was the Xbox 360 did. And, returning to the Nintendo Switch, ANYTHING would have looked amazing to Nintendo coming off the complete failure of the Wii U, which only sold a staggeringly poor 13.5 million units TOTAL by the time it was discontinued in 2016. So the narrative becomes thus: the Playstation 4 is a massive success, the Nintendo Switch is a noteworthy success, and the Xbox One is a disappointing failure.
The reality? All of them are doing pretty damn good, really. Between the three none are really failures, and as consoles evolve to be more “iteration” based (with the likes of the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X mudding up the works), the competition between them is probably going to became far less noteworthy as things go on. But, still, all three systems are healthy sellers which, for the sake of the industry, is probably for the best. After all, a little competition never killed anyone, right?
Also published on Medium.