Nintendo has released its yearly earnings report, and it’s filled with interesting tidbits of data on the last year’s releases. What’s particularly interesting, however, is the sales milestone the Nintendo Switch has hit of 139.36 million units sold. It officially puts the Switch as the third best-selling console of all time. Past that, though, Nintendo has increased its sales forecast of the system for the next fiscal year, and it’s starting to look entirely possible that the Switch could claim the coveted top record that the PlayStation 2 has held for nearly two decades.
The Nintendo Switch has hit those sales numbers in a surprisingly short amount of time, especially when compared to the two systems sitting above it. The Nintendo DS was released in 2004 and stopped production in 2014, selling roughly 154 million units in that time. Meanwhile, the PS2 launched in 2000 and ended production in 2013, selling 155 million units. By comparison, the Nintendo Switch has achieved its sales numbers in far less time, just seven years after its launch in 2017.
Nintendo’s release schedule has undoubtedly slowed down in 2024. As of now we only know of a handful of first-party games coming to Switch this year: Mario vs Donkey Kong, Princess Peach Showtime, and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remake. However, Nintendo’s financial report has some key points that make it seem more than likely that the Switch can reach the top spot.
Despite a six percent revenue drop, Nintendo increased its forecast of Switch sales to 15.5 million this fiscal year, up from 15 million. This shows there’s some degree of growth expected for the console, supported by strong sales numbers of software.
Super Mario Bros. Wonder has officially become the fastest-selling title in the franchise with 11.96 million units since launch, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom continues to impress with 20.28 million units. Even Pikmin 4 has sold 3.33 million units and Super Mario RPG 3.14 million. Another staggering statistic is that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold 460K during the quarter, as a six-year-old game with a sequel currently available.
It’s clear there’s still a lot of demand for the Switch’s ever-growing library, and leveraging that library is going to be key. That’s especially true with the rumored imminent release of Nintendo’s next console.
While there’s no official confirmation of backward compatibility for “Nintendo Switch 2,” it practically seems like a guarantee. Nintendo will want to cash in on the massive user base of the Switch, and to this point, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many of the early Switch 2 games be cross-generation. This would allow Nintendo to still cash-in on an existing user base, while also still providing an incentive for newcomers to purchase a Switch.
That’s especially true if the Switch receives a price-drop at the launch of the new console. Even just a minor price drop would position the Switch as a console for everyone, while the new more powerful system can occupy a different space for those wanting something cutting-edge. There is precedent for this, as Nintendo traditionally continues to release titles for an older system after a new one releases. For example, Pokémon Conquest launched in 2013, nearly one year after the release of the 3DS.
Key titles like a new 3D Mario and Metroid Prime 4 could easily be cross-gen titles, as both will have been in development for years. Nintendo also loves to put out various bundles, and a bundle with some of the later year games like Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Tears of the Kingdom could work wonders.
More than anything, it’s vital that Nintendo has good messaging about not abandoning the Switch. Nintendo Directs with announcements can help there, but it should also be stressed during the reveal of the next system. Fifteen million is still a ways to go, but the momentum is already there, Nintendo just needs to keep it up.
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