Nintendo Switch: Four years of success, by the numbers

Four years ago today, Nintendo's unique handheld-console hybrid made gaming history. It's still breaking records to this day.

@DeekeTweak
Published Thu, Mar 4 2021 11:14 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 6 2021 10:06 AM CDT

Yesterday, the Nintendo Switch turned four years old. The unique handheld-console hybrid has achieved thunderous success in this relatively small span of time.

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The Switch is now four years old, roughly half-way into its lifecycle as Nintendo says. In a four-year span, the Switch has consistently become the best-selling system in the United States for months on end, breaking hardware (and software) sales milestones across the board. To celebrate the Switch's fourth birthday, we thought it prudent to take a closer look at its performance in the worldwide market.

After the dismal Wii U, the Switch is Nintendo's ultimate comeback story. The company has generated billions every year thanks to the lucrative Switch family (Nintendo made $9.9 billion in 2019 from the Switch). The secret of the system's success is that capitalizes on both the selling points of both the mega-popular Wii and 3DS handheld. Gamers have been tremendously receptive to the console-handheld's unique transforming form factor.

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In four years, the Switch has become the fifth best-selling Nintendo hardware platform of all time with 79.87 million units sold, and is expected to dethrone the Wii's 100 million+ sales in the next few years.

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The Switch's volume of sales is just as impressive as units sold in the period. The Switch actually outsold the PS4 in the first four years (Switch is at 79.87 million compared to the PS4's 60.4 million sales in the comparable timeframe).

Switch software sales are where things get really interesting. Software is the most important part of any console platform, and the Switch's game sales are astronomically high. Gamers have purchased over 532 million titles on the Switch, and a huge portion of these are first-party games that net Nintendo 100% of sales revenues.

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First-party games are immensely successful on the Switch. Historically, people buy the hardware to primarily play Nintendo games. The same is true for the Switch.

The platform has six first-party titles that have sold 20 million units, and nine of the top 10 best-selling Switch games have moved over 10 million copies.

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Animal Crossing New Horizons is the breakout success, and will soon be the platform's number 1 top-seller despite releasing only last April. The game has sold nearly 1 million copies every week since it launched.

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Mainline games aren't everything. To help fill in the lull between huge releases, Nintendo has opened the indie floodgate to keep consumers busy in the interim. The Switch has become a veritable indie game haven and has helped surge sales for smaller studios by exposing a unique medley of gamers to an even more unique variety of titles. The result has massively

spiked indie game purchases on the eShop, helping both Nintendo and the studios that make the games.

It only goes to show that high-end gaming isn't everything. The Switch is a blend of entry-level consumer access to a platform that combines the best of two form factors and even wider software availability. There's always something new to play on the Switch, and often, there's unique ways to play said games. Every publisher wants to be on the Switch now, including EA, who has been timid about supporting the hardware.

The console has significant performance limitations, though, but developers have adjusted their titles accordingly in order to ride the billion-dollar Switch wave.

Despite these thundering earnings, the Switch isn't done yet. Nintendo should release a new revised model that can output 4K resolution, possibly via a new upgraded dock or internal SoC from NVIDIA. No details have been announced, but the future is looking bright for the Switch family of hardware and Nintendo's video game dominance.

Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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