The Nintendo Switch is finally on sale since a week or so. Fans had been impatiently waiting since its announcement on January 13 and despite some criticism from the press (particularly due to the somewhat small number of compatible games), the console has proven to be a huge success. Once again, this is proof that the Japanese manufacturer knows exactly how to launch its consoles.
If you're having trouble getting your hands on your own Nintendo Switch device right now, that's no big surprise. The console is currently out of stock at most stores and on merchant sites. The only way you could have got one was by waking up super early last Friday and standing in line, like my colleague Sophia did - unless you thought ahead and pre-ordered the device.
The best console launch in the US
As one of the most successful console launches in the US, Nintendo were elated as the Switch beat the 2-day sales records for its previous successful device, the Nintendo Wii. While Nintendo has not yet released exact sales numbers, we do know that the Wii sold over 600,000 units in its first week or so and to date, the Wii has sold over 100 million units, joining the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 as one of the most popular consoles globally.
2. Fri-Sat sales for Nintendo Switch exceeded first 2-day sales in Americas for any system in Nintendo history. Next biggest was Wii.— Nick Wingfield (@nickwingfield) March 6, 2017
Further afield, the console has been met with an equally enthusiastic response. Over 105,000 units have been sold in France alone and in Japan, over 330,637 units were sold in the first few days after its launch.
Yet press critics had vividly antagonized the Switch. Some criticized its limited gaming catalog prior to the launch, others picked on the HD screen definition, battery life and especially, the high price tag ($299). Had I been particularly enticed by the console and its entertainment aspect, the failure of the Nintendo Wii U might have left me dubious at best regarding the possible success of the machine, at least in its first year of sales.
All these criticisms pretty much had zero impact and the public responded favorably to the launch of the device. The doomsday scenario they insinuated just simply did not happen, which is a stark reminder to all of us that the opinions of the press are not necessarily the rule and surprises can still occur.
A huge community, a different console and... Zelda!
There are several reasons for the success of the Switch. The first is certainly the most underrated: the Nintendo community. Of course, we always knew there was a community out there but we hadn't realized just how strong this community had remained until 2017, particularly after the failure of the Wii U. It's thanks to this that Nintendo is currently going through one of the best product starts in US history for a console. This craze has led other players, who were perhaps a little reluctant at first, to take an interest in the Switch and place an order.
Another reason for such a great launch is the release of the latest Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game recorded the best launch of any game in the history of Nintendo. The number of people wanting to try it was astounding. However, I am less surprised about this as I had already stated in a previous article: "if you are a fan of the Zelda series and you like the wacky universe of Nintendo, the Switch clearly deserves a look".
4. Zelda for Nintendo Switch the best selling standalone launch title (i.e. not a bundled game a la Wii Sports) in Nintendo history...— Nick Wingfield (@nickwingfield) 6 mars 2017
Finally, the Switch is a console that stands apart in the market as it has no direct competitor. This totally hybrid console can be both portable and fixed in place at home, thus extending the gaming experience to any location the player desires. Nintendo has targeted mobile users but also people who prefer to just play in their own living room. To highlight its all-inclusiveness, the Switch is aimed at a more varied and more family-friendly audience as showcased by its robustness (made in Nintendo) and the games it offers.
Now we just have to wait a few months and see if the success will be short-lived or if the trend will continue. A second opportunity has been thrown at Nintendo now and it's certainly one of the most challenging ones: to reach and entice those beyond its existing community.
Were you drawn in by the Switch? Have you already got one? We'd love to hear what you think of it in the comments below!