The Nintendo Switch was the hottest gadget of 2017 and the only unambiguously successful new product of the year. Nintendo (NTDOY) has sold at least 10 million units over the past 9 months. The company has now increased its internal target for its first-year sales of the Switch to 16 million from 10 million. For comparison, the Wii U console has sold only 13.6 million units since its launch in 2012.
The new console became the fastest-selling video game system in Nintendo’s history and was hard to find for months after the launch. In Japan, the Switch recently surpassed the first-year sales record of the Sony PlayStation 2, the best-selling game console of all time, which was set in 2000. The company’s most recent quarterly report showed a profit of $209 million, a welcome change from the regularly reported losses in previous quarters.
At the beginning of 2017, Nintendo was in a precarious position. The company’s hottest product of 2016 was a $60 console loaded with 30-year-old NES games. Its first “Super Mario” game for smartphones failed to reach sales expectations, with too few players paying the $9.99 to unlock the full game. The most recent mobile Nintendo game, “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp,” made an estimated 10 million in its first nine days after launch, versus $24 million for “Super Mario Run.”
The Nintendo Switch made lots of people happy. Its innovative design allows it to function as both a TV console and a portable console. You can be playing a game in the car on the way home, then continue playing on the TV once you get home. The detachable controllers allow two players to compete or collaborate without the need for additional hardware.
Nintendo has also been releasing great games for the Switch, including “Super Mario Odyssey,” “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” and “Splatoon 2.” The classic “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and “Doom” are both due hit the Switch this year. However, a reported delay in the manufacture of high-capacity Switch cartridges could restrict the flow of new games in 2018.