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The Nintendo Switch: Nintendo's Next Chance at Success

By Kelson Howerton
On September 15, 2017

Nintendo released its sixth home console, the Wii-U, five years ago. Following the incredible success of the Wii, the third highest selling home console of all time, Nintendo sought to strike lightning twice with their improvement on the Wii’s popular motion-controlled, family-friendly design.           

     However, through a combination of bad marketing, a high price-point, little third-party support, and a market dominated by Microsoft and Sony’s more powerful home consoles and the increasing popularity of mobile gaming, the Wii-U cemented itself Nintendo’s worst selling console to date.

     With the failure of the Wii-U and Nintendo’s waning influence in the hardware market, Nintendo’s next project was their last bet for landing a video game console that connected with modern-day consumers. While Nintendo has always had a proclivity for creating fun and inventive video games, the company had lost touch on the demands of the console market. It became clear through the Wii and Wii-U that Nintendo could no longer compete with its Microsoft and Sony counterparts. 

    Going back to the drawing board, Nintendo decided to completely disregard demands for it to compete with the graphical power and performance of mainstream Xbox and PlayStation systems by working on a project that set itself entirely apart from the competition—the Nintendo Switch.

    Officially announced on October 20, 2016, the Nintendo Switch was revealed to be a console that stood somewhere between a traditional home console and a portable gaming system, a middle ground that stretched Nintendo’s talents to multiple markets in one package. 

    Composed of a tablet-like device with attachable wireless controllers and a small dock that connects the console to a television, the Switch was marketed around the ambitious idea of being able to play your favorite games on your TV, then seamlessly sliding the Switch out of its dock and taking the game with you on the go. From your home, to the car, to the airport, Nintendo promised the hybrid console could be played virtually anywhere, providing a perfect balance of power, portability, and battery-life.

    The Switch’s worldwide release on March 3, 2017, brought this ambitious idea to the hands of gamers all around the world, making it clear that Nintendo did indeed deliver on its promise. Launching alongside the much anticipated “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the Switch sold nearly 1 million units in its first month, selling faster than any other Nintendo console at launch.

    Despite manufacturing errors and console shortages, Nintendo revealed Switch sales earned the company $578 million in its first quarter, netting Nintendo a $145 million operating profit. Additionally, Nintendo brought the Switch’s total lifetime sales up to 4.7 million units as of June 30. The Switch has continued to top sales charts since, meaning it has easily sold up to 5 or 6 million units in just its first six months on the market.

    Sales are not the only high point of the Switch’s lifetime so far, as the console has also cultivated a solid library of games, including “Breath of the Wild,” “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Arms,” and “Splatoon 2,” not to mention dozens of indie titles.

    Unlike the Wii-U, the Switch’s modern, developer-friendly hardware has also garnered the support of many third-party developers, with games such as “Minecraft,” “Sonic Mania,” and Ubisoft’s “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” already landing on the Switch, and games like “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” “Rocket League,” and “NBA 2K18” set to join the console’s library later this year. Even further, big name developers such as Square Enix, From Software, Atlus, and Telltale Games as well as publishers such as Activision, EA, Capcom, and Warner Bros. have also been announced as Nintendo Switch partners. 

    While it is too soon to tell whether or not the Nintendo Switch truly has any legs, if the hybrid consoles first six months have anything to say about the state of the Switch, it is sure to have a long and fruitful lifetime.

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