With their previous console, the Wii U, ending up as a sales flop, Nintendo badly needs their new console to be a hit — while smartphone apps could be a handy source of alternate income and advertising, Nintendo’s bread and butter will still be their console and games business for some time. It’s still too early to tell whether or not the Switch will be a hit in the end, but a strong first week goes a long way toward making sure the hybrid console doesn’t end up on the bad side of Nintendo’s history.
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
No numbers from North America have been released yet, but Nick Wingfield of The New York Times tweeted out what he heard from Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé. According to Wingfield, Fils-Aimé said that the Switch had the best two-day sales of any Nintendo console ever, beating the mega-successful Wii (which ultimately sold over 100 million units in its time on shelves). He also said that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is now the best-selling standalone game (not counting bundled games like Wii Sports) in that same period in Nintendo history. Fils-Aimé didn’t give Wingfield hard numbers, but as many have pointed out, even generally speaking it’s a good sign for Nintendo — the Switch got a March launch, while the Wii and Wii U both launched in late fall during the holiday shopping season.
Nintendo followed that up with a press release, which IGN reports as saying that both the Switch and Breath of the Wild have had similar success in Europe — but again, hard numbers weren’t divulged. IGN also reports that the Switch sold 313,000 units in Japan over the first two days, which beats the Wii U launch, but not the Wii launch.
The news is a little difficult to parse. After all, sales numbers depend on how many units were shipped in the first place (Wingfield says 2 million in North America). One thing that does seem certain is that the Switch is now well-positioned to at least outperform the Wii U, which only sold about 13 million units before being taken off shelves. But, Nintendo might ultimately be looking to the Switch to replace both home console and handheld sales, which means merely outperforming the Wii U won’t nearly be enough. Then again, that might not be a concern for a while — Nintendo has repeatedly said they will continue to support the handheld 3DS platform, which continues to thrive. With Nintendo having sold over 65 million 3DS units as of the end of last year, it’ll be interesting to see if Nintendo ever tries to fully replace their handheld business with the Switch.
Nintendo will also have until the fall to make it clear that they’ve finally gotten online gameplay right — they’re planning to charge for their online service by then, but it’s still not clear how the service will work. Chances are the upcoming re-release of Mario Kart 8 for the Switch be the ultimate trial run for both the company and its customers. They’ll need to get that right to convince a lot of the skeptics to get on board, given Nintendo’s poor history with online features.