In the 13 months since the Nintendo Switch was released, it has proven to be far more successful than even Nintendo guessed. The company’s latest information tells us the system is approaching 20 million installed units in just over a year of release, with almost 70 million games having flown off shelves.
As of March 31, Nintendo reports, 17.79 million Switch consoles and 68.97 million games have been sold. The company expects to sell 20 million more Switch consoles and an ambitious 100 million more games. That might sound like shooting for the stars, but Nintendo already has a Super Smash Bros. game announced for 2018, and it’s totally possible that the upcoming Pokemon game, apparently a proper Pokemon RPG, could even hit this year, which could make a number like 20 million seem like an understatement.
Nintendo systems historically are the kinds of systems that people buy a lot of first-party games for, and that’s no different here. Of the 18 million Switch consoles, over half own a copy of Super Mario Odyssey, with 10.41 million units in the wild. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a re-release of the Wii U title Mario Kart 8, has moved 9.22 million copies on Switch. The company’s newest franchise, Splatoon, saw its most recent title sell through 6.02 million copies.
Of those games sold, an increasing number sold are digital – a rapidly increasing number. Digital sales climbed by 87 percent year over year. The Switch is the first internet-connected system from Nintendo to tie games to users’ accounts rather than the console hardware, which likely accounts for some of the improved enthusiasm for digital sales, along with the general shift games are seeing toward marketplaces.
It’s not just the Switch doing well, either. The Nintendo 3DS sold 6.4 million units in the last fiscal year, bringing the lifetime sales up to 72.5 million handheld systems sold. The SNES Classic also sold 5.28 million units during that time and is still currently on sale. The NES Classic is set to make a return this summer, which should bolster the “Classics” sales yet further.
Note that all these numbers go up through the March 31 end of Nintendo’s fiscal year, meaning that the initial sales of Nintendo’s new cardboard-powered Labo maker kits aren’t accounted for.
In the midst of this resounding success, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima – who has helmed the company since Saturo Iwata’s passing in 2015 – will retire on June 28. He’ll be replaced by Shuntaro Furukawa, an executive with 24 years of experience with the company. Furukawa, now 46, joined the company at just 22 years old. His latest roles include that of general manager of corporate planning, supervisor of corporate analysis and administration and, most recently, he took on leadership of Nintendo’s global marketing division.
It was never clear whether Kimishima would stay on long-term, but it seems as if he’s made his decision. Furukawa’s long history with the company suggests he is a good candidate to carry on Satoru Iwata’s vision.
Back to those sales, though, let’s put things in context. Back in February, the PlayStation 4 family hit the 75-million mark for systems sold across the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, and revised slim PlayStation 4. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to obscure Xbox One sales, but estimates put the company somewhere north of 30 million systems sold. Despite being lower than the PlayStation 4 mark, that’s still nothing to sneeze at for 3-plus years of sales.
If Nintendo’s estimates are realistic, though, the company could eclipse Microsoft’s efforts in just two years of sales as the system hits 40 million total sold. Compare that to the less-than-14-million-sold-ever that we saw for the Wii U to see just how much things have turned around. If you’ve noticed your Twitter and Facebook feeds starting to fill with people “waiting for the Switch version,” it’s not just you. The system really is that popular.
Now if they can just make Joy-Con controllers that don’t wreck my hands.