On 3rd March 2017, Nintendo launched its new console, the Nintendo Switch. The Switch itself has been more than we expected, selling millions within its first year; and already surpassing the Wii U within months. But how has it managed to sell so well?
One thing which Reggie himself spoke about last month was Marketing. The Wii U’s marketing was very poor – it wasn’t up to scratch – to say the least. Just by watching a few of the ads for Wii U, you find yourself cringing. It’s poorly acted and were usually acted by children. In today’s gaming market, whilst appealing to kids is great, you can’t just appeal to them, and this was very clearly proved by the Wii U’s sales. The Switch advertises to a whole different audience, much more to the young adults; the most important age category to target within most sources of entertainment. We have all constantly seen Microsoft and Sony target this audience and, of course, it has worked wonders. The advertising is a lot cleverer, as well, and is much less cringeworthy – it just gets straight to the point and never involves much voice acting; just showing people enjoying the game and being a lot less fake. Appealing a lot more on TV will mean people are more eager to pick it up, and the stark contrast between the marketing of Wii U and Switch has proved this.
It’s also the solid library of first-party games that have arrived for the Switch. Within a year of Switch’s launch, we had: a Zelda, a Mario, a Splatoon, a Mario Kart and a new IP (in Arms). With Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey both up for consideration as the best games in their respective series, those two alone show the incredible first year that Nintendo had, especially in comparison to Wii U’s first year – where an underwhelming Mario platformer was released as first party and that was, pretty much, all we got as a major first-party title. Enough on the Wii U, people saw these games and thought, “actually, I am desperate to play that”. Whilst Breath of the Wild was released on Wii U, no one would buy a Wii U simply to play it. Instead, you’d buy a new, day 1 console. Breath of the Wild was so different to all other Zelda’s that it was easy to pick up as well and play for the first time; encouraging new people to play it, and therefore encouraging them to buy a Switch. The same goes for Odyssey. It has revolutionised the Mario series and is certainly considered the best title in the series since the highly acclaimed Super Mario 64, which also revolutionised Mario for the time. This revolution again made people buy the Switch as they want to experience the ‘new’ Mario.
Ports have also worked wonders on Switch, and whilst it has angered some former Wii U owners, it seems to have benefitted Nintendo largely. The major example was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. MK8 was released on Wii U and at the time was one of the main reasons why a lot of people bought it, with myself even considering it at times. But less than 2 months in to the Switch’s life cycle, it had been ported with better features, more characters and more things in general. It made people like myself that held off the Wii U even more encouraged to buy a Switch as it saw some of the best games moved over. A lot of people that even bought the Wii U version even bought the Switch version as they didn’t want to miss out, resulting in more profit for Nintendo.
The third-party perspective has also helped the Switch do well. Major companies including the likes of Bethesda have shown their support for the console when previously they had given up on Nintendo. Games such as The Elder Scrolls V and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would have been unthinkable on any previous system and maybe even unthinkable before the Switch was announced. Ubisoft has continued its support and the most noticeable was the award-winning Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which was highly acclaimed by critics. As well as this, extremely popular multiplayer games like Rocket League and Fortnite have made the jump to Switch, showing that it is now a house for some of the most popular games as well. I hope that this strong third-party support continues and with the system becoming a hot-house for Indie titles I can’t see that stopping anytime soon; thankfully.
One final factor I want to delve in to it Cross-Play. On previous systems, like the Wii and Wii U, games have been exclusively played on those consoles and even Third-Party games would be locked to the Nintendo console. But, for the Switch, Nintendo and Microsoft have struck up an incredible relationship that looks likely to mean that all multiplayer Third-Party titles released on both systems will feature Cross-Play. This not only alerts the Nintendo community of a relationship between the two companies but informs the Xbox players of Nintendo’s presence. This makes them realise that Nintendo is back, so to speak. And realising that their favourite multiplayer games can be played on the go WITH Cross-Play to Xbox is a great encouragement for buying the system.
And at those points, it is great to see Nintendo Switch selling so well. If the system failed, it could well have been game over for Nintendo; following the disappointment of the Wii U. Long last the system and long last the sales.