Nintendo Comments On Switch Sales And If They'll Ever Match Wii's Performance

"The benchmark is not whether Nintendo Switch sales can surpass total Wii sales."

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The Nintendo Switch may never match the sales of the Nintendo Wii--but that might not have ever been possible, and Nintendo doesn't sound all that worried about it. In the English translation of a recent investor Q&A, outgoing Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said Nintendo is not necessarily looking for the Switch to match or exceed the Wii in terms of sales. Instead, Kimishima said Nintendo will be happy if it can "adapt and respond to changes in the market" to help the Switch to keep selling well.

"The benchmark is not whether Nintendo Switch sales can surpass total Wii sales, but rather we adapt and respond to changes in the market and strive to continue selling Nintendo Switch as long as possible," Kimishima said.

The Wii was a breakout, phenomenal success, the likes of which industry-watchers and even Nintendo itself probably never expected. It has sold more than 101 million units worldwide, which is ahead of the the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which shifted around 80 million units each. Comparing against other current-generation systems, the PlayStation 4 has shipped around 79 million units. Microsoft does not disclose hardware unit sales, though Xbox One figures are believed to be lower than PS4. The Switch has sold 17.79 million units by Nintendo's latest count. Nintendo plans to sell 20 million more during this fiscal year.

The Wii was phenomenally successful due in part to its mainstream appeal. The Wii U failed mightily to capture a sizeable audience (it sold 13.56 million units), and while the Switch is doing better than the Wii U, it will be a real challenge for it to match the success of the Wii. But hardware is typically sold on very small margins, if not a straight-up loss. Software, services, and peripherals often service as the real money-makers, for Nintendo and others. With the Nintendo Labo, Nintendo is literally selling people cardboard, so that's just one example of what is believed to be a higher-margin venture for the company compared to hardware. Additionally, Nintendo is rolling out a paid online service for the Switch in September, so that will bring in significant, regular revenue for the company if enough people subscribe.

Nintendo has spoken previously about how the Switch may have a longer lifecycle than normal for consoles. Speaking further to this, Kimishima said in the Q&A that he wants the system to remain relevant and compelling for long time to come.

"We need to steadily provide new experiences that will keep consumers always wanting to play Nintendo Switch in order to maintain sales for a long time," he said. "I cannot go into detail here today, but our company has a lot of experience with selling gaming systems, and we will actively incorporate everything we have learned, including our failures, into our planning."

Also during the Q&A, Kimishima said the Switch's second year will be an important one. In particular, Kimishima said Nintendo is planning some initiatives to help the Switch reach people who have never played a Nintendo system, or haven't in a long time.

"Seeing how far we can expand the market in the second year of sales is incredibly important for a video game system, whether it is a handheld game system or a home console system," Kimishima said. "In this second year, the initiatives we are planning come from our recognition that we also have to challenge ourselves to delivering Nintendo Switch into the hands of consumers who have never played a Nintendo platform before, and to those [who] have played before, but not recently."

Kimishima did not go into any more details on the unspecified "initiatives" Nintendo is planning to beef up Switch sales. One part of it, though, is surely the release of new, high-profile games such as Super Smash Bros. for Switch, which is launching this year. Nintendo will show off the game at E3, and it will surely join the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey as system-sellers for the Switch.

The Switch is the fastest-selling console ever in the United States over its first year, according to NPD. What that sounds like is that, over its first year, Nintendo's hybrid console is selling better than the PS4 and Xbox One over their respective first years.

In March, a Wall Street Journal report claimed Nintendo will not release a 2.0 version of the Switch this year, instead electing to peripherals and online features. Kimishima is retiring as Nintendo's president in July; he will be replaced by Shuntaro Furukawa, who is a big fan of the Australian game Golf Story.

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Avatar image for lion2447

The Wii may have sold tonnes in hardware, but its software attachement rate was poor. Many people bought the console and only ever played the games included with it.

The Switch seems like a much better success in that it has a much better software attachement rate, with the out of the box ideas that the Wii introduced. Right now, Nintendo is literally selling cardboard and it is successful. I hope Nintendo continues with weird out there ideas as they seem to be the most fun.

Avatar image for luxuryheart

@lion2447: The Wii had a great attachment rate. Roughly 9 games per console sold. Games that weren't bundled games managed to do well too. People bought games on the Wii and continue to do so (like Just Dance 2018 that sold over 2 million copies). I wish people would stop pushing that lie.

Avatar image for lion2447

@luxuryheart: Ya, I started looking back and noticed the rate was better than I remembered. I was thinking back to older articles about parents buying the console and then just playing the included games, never buying any other games. Damn my lousy memory. lol.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

Unlikely. Plenty of non-gamers bought the Wii due to its fad status. Switch has not received that type or level of media exposure.

Avatar image for MrDouglas

The Wii had the Balance Board, and the accompanying Wii Fit software. If memory serves that was what really made it soar into the high heaven of sales. Heck, I bought a Wii just for the novelty of using the Balance Board...

Avatar image for gargungulunk

One factor will be if&how they follow up the 3DS.

I'll buy a Switch some time, but probably not this year.... probably not until SMT V comes out.

Avatar image for ibonedyourmom

I doubt anything will match the Wii anytime soon. You had people buying Wiis who had never even played video games before. Thing was a damn phenomenon.

Avatar image for doctor_mg

I could see it outselling the Wii if they are competitive with their prices and support the system for a while. In other words, price drops and longevity.

Avatar image for Jinzo_111887

Well, free online multiplayer would help. It sure seemed to have helped Steam.

Avatar image for Ohaidere

I could have sworn I read a Nintendo interview speculating how they were going to beat Wii sales, families would buy multiple consoles, etc.

Avatar image for mbrogz3000

Wii had that sweet spot price right out of the starting gates, and was able to keep the price right throughout the life cycle. If Switch was $250 right now, you’d have a larger crowd buying it even if they are using it 20% of the game playing time. $250 is basically the price point where people buy neat gadgets without really questioning whether they need it or will use it.

Avatar image for Sindred

I freaking love my Switch. But I don’t expect it to outsell the Wii. My freakin grandma bought the Wii. People who weren’t gamers bought it.

The switch is back to form for Nintendo. It’s a gaming machine. Not a gimmick. Yes it’s portable, but it has traditional games that don’t force waggle. So it appeals to gamers only.

Avatar image for EricShadow366
EricShadow366 could. But it needs the right support, and the right titles.

The First Year was Amazing for the Switch...but....and i hate to be that party breaker...That was just ONE year. How do we know how it will do in 3 or 4 years or so?...Nintendo's First Party support has been absolutely superb. So I have no doubt that software wise, the Switch will do A-Ok.

Avatar image for theweege

Love my switch but my PS4 gets my attention most of the time

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@theweege: I played Zelda and Mario on my Switch but outside of that it hasn't gotten much attention from me. I owned a Wii U so I already played a lot of the other Nintendo games they're bringing out on it. I can also get third party games cheaper and earlier on other systems. I'm waiting for Metroid Prime 4 and other new and not re-released Nintendo games.

Avatar image for videogameninja

I don’t think even Nintendo accurately anticipated the success in sales the Switch would have. I know it’s sales are in a completely different realm right now than the juggernaut that was the Wii but the fact that it has had such an amazing 1st year has got to make even the most critical and skeptical advocates of Nintendo take notice.

Will the Switch hit the lifetime sales of the Wii? Who knows. Is the Switch on the righty track to achieving that goal in some capacity?

Absolutely, yes!


Avatar image for deactivated-5b06d816c3f07

Shortly after Bloodborne came out PS4 started to leave Microsoft and Nintendo in the dust. Since then it was all and only PS4. Great to see Nintendo coming back in such a big way with all the variety and doing great. Microsoft we are waiti......ahhhhhhh forget it!

Avatar image for dr_vancouver


Do people still do that?

Oh, they dont?

Well, crap. At least Switch is doing better than I am :)