After the recent revelation that Nintendo Switch sales have hit nearly 80 million units worldwide, the prospect of it outpacing the Wii, Nintendo’s best-selling home console, is becoming ever more likely. Early on it was predicted that the Switch could potentially hit the level that the Wii did, and as sales have been steadily year-on-year, analysts started wondering less about if it would happen and instead started trying to figure out when. Now, Nintendo is also all game for that to happen.
This stems from a response given by Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa during a Q&A session after the company’s recent financial report. An investor squarely asked the president what he thinks is needed to push the Switch beyond the 100 million unit threshold. To that, Mr. Furukawa stated that Nintendo is “aiming to continue this momentum [of sales] and increase the cumulative sales volume to overtake that of Wii.” He further stated that the company is “considering various measures to achieve this,” noting that the Switch’s install base has a wide variety of consumers of differing gameplay trends.
Furukawa also noted that the recent sales increase throughout 2020 was, in part, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 which was followed by stay-at-home orders around the world. This led to a sharp increase in purchasing from millions, including increased interest in video games. The Switch benefited from this new wave of purchases that it was out-of-stock globally for months throughout 2020, also due to the pandemic causing manufacturing facilities to shut down and shipment lines to be adversely impacted.
While there are a lot of new Switch owners out there right now, Nintendo has also found out that it’s getting repeat-customers as well. According to Nintendo’s research, “approximately 20% of the Nintendo Switch family sell-through between October and December 2020 in the main regions was due to demand for multiple systems within the same family. We all aim to continue increasing our sales volume by rigorously responding to this kind of demand for multiple systems as well.”
This is a special circumstance that the Switch can enjoy vs a traditional console like the Wii due to its hybrid nature. Just as a lot of families may buy different models of the same phone (e.g., a family of iPhone 12 users), multiple Switch units are being bought for the same household.
This is an area that Nintendo has been targeting for a while now, and it’s probably one of the main reasons why the Nintendo Switch Lite was introduced back in 2019, to appeal to younger gamers whose parents would be more inclined to purchase due to the cheaper price tag. What about older gamers, however? While the idea of a more premium Switch may appeal primarily to that demographic, in this same Q&A session Mr. Furukawa shot down the idea that Nintendo will be releasing such a system anytime soon. So, Switch Pro hopefuls, you’ll have to keep waiting.
If Switch sales continue at a similar pace, then accumulating the extra 20 million units to overtake the Wii should happen in a relatively short space of time. As it stands, Switch is now Nintendo’s third bestselling system of all time, only trailing behind the Wii and Nintendo DS.
Even if it doesn’t overtake the DS’s sales (which would be hard for any system), the milestone of Switch pulling past 100 million units would still be monumental. To date, only six systems have ever done so, with the most recent being PlayStation 4, and that took roughly seven years to get there. Switch looks poised to do that in about half the time, which would be quite the feat.