If there was a prize for boldness in the video game industry, Nintendo would certainly be a serial winner. After failing miserably to replicate the success of the motion-controlled Wii with the Wii U that was launched in 2012 and discontinued five disappointing years later, the Japanese company could have reverted to a proven formula with its next console. Instead, Nintendo doubled down on one of the Wii U’s standout features, i.e. a gamepad with a display, and turned its next console into a full-fledged hybrid between home and handheld console. And to great success!
Less than five years after its initial release in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch has already sold almost 93 million units, putting it on track to surpass the Wii and become Nintendo’s most successful home console of all time. As the following chart shows, the Switch’s sales trailed the Wii’s performance out of the gates, but while Wii sales started to decline after its third year on the market, the Switch continued to gain momentum.
All that said, some clouds are gathering on the horizon of Mushroom Kingdom, as the global chip shortage has forced Nintendo to cut its sales forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022 to 24 million units. While Nintendo fully attributes that downgrade to supply constraints, saying it won't be able to meet demand in the upcoming holiday season, it's hard not to wonder whether last year's 28.8 million units may have been the Switch's peak. Even though the console continues to be very popular with the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S around, five years is a long time in a console's lifecycle and the Switch will inevitably lose momentum at some point.