During the Q&A session of Nintendo’s November 2020 Investor’s Briefing, company president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked if it can be expected that the high sales trends of the Switch would continue on into next fiscal year and beyond. Furukawa stated that the Switch’s performance so far has caused Nintendo to anticipate the system to have a life cycle that “goes beyond the life cycles of our previous hardware platforms.”
The view from above must be nice
Calling the Nintendo Switch a mere “success” seems more and more like an understatement anytime a new metric is released. The hybrid system has been dominating sales charts since its launch back in March 2017, and as of the time of writing, that has led to it selling over 68 million units worldwide. That means that the Switch has outsold every Nintendo home console prior, minus the Wii. And at this point, it looks like it just may top that juggernaut. If the Switch really does turn out to have a longer production life, then it may very well hit that goal. But the question is, how will Nintendo go about doing that?
In the same answer, Mr. Furukawa also stated that Nintendo “will continue efforts to extend the Nintendo Switch life cycle, while promoting initiatives that make use of Nintendo Accounts and pursuing our goal of motivating consumers to play our platforms for years to come.”
Timing is everything
One major factor in the Switch’s success has been its timing. The system released at an interesting point in the game industry. In 2017, the PS4 and Xbox One were basically at the same point the Switch is at now: the middle of the generation. Thus, they weren’t the “hot new thing” anymore, but neither were they considered “legacy”. Due to the Switch’s unique design, it captured the minds of consumers and developers alike, and it was off to the races for Nintendo. Now, the PS4 and Xbox One will be put out to pasture in a matter of years since their successors, the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, are now on store shelves.
With the Switch turning four years old in March, that would technically give it about two more years—if it were following Nintendo’s traditional console timeline. But, since the company insists that it expects the system to have a longer than usual lifecycle, that means the Switch could run for a total of seven, or perhaps even eight years. With next-gen now in full swing and the gap in power becoming ever larger, it would no doubt be quite the challenge for third-party developers to optimize their titles for something as powerful as the Xbox Series X, while also trying to make it run on something as humble as the Nintendo Switch Lite. That said, perhaps the rumored Switch Pro may be what Furukawa really means by Nintendo continuing “efforts to extend the Nintendo Switch life cycle”. Or, the company may just really have a game plan that somehow keeps the Switch and Switch Lite at the forefront for the next three or four years. Time will ultimately tell, but regardless, this hybrid has certainly made a name for itself in gaming history books.