The Nintendo Switch has been on the market for just a little over a year at this point, but the system has already done remarkably well. As of the end of March, official worldwide sales numbers put the Switch at nearly 18 million units. It’s definitely passed that number at this point and is probably in the realm of 19 million by now. This performance is far better than the Wii U. That system sold about 13.56 million units during its four-year lifecycle. The contrast between it and the Switch clearly couldn’t be greater. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime was recently interviewed by The Star. During the interview, he pointed to the company’s improved marketing with the Switch as a big reason as to why it’s selling so much better than the Wii U. Here’s his full comment:
“We have a lot of momentum out there. It’s wonderful. But we also know that in this games business, things change quickly. What we’ve been able to do with Nintendo Switch is a number of very important things. First, we’ve been incredibly clear with the positioning of the product. Why should you purchase this device? Well, it’s because you can play this great content, anywhere, anytime with anyone. Tell me what the Wii U proposition was in 10 words or less. We weren’t as incredibly clear.”
Oh, Reggie wants someone to tell him the proposition of Wii U in 10 words or less? Okay, I’ll try: “It’s a home console with a touchscreen controller that allows you to play games off the TV”. Alright, I couldn’t condense it to less than 10 words, but he does have a point—the Switch’s concept is a lot easier to convey. It’s a home console that can be taken on the go. Now that description is less than ten words.
The Wii U’s concept wasn’t half bad, but its limitations were hard to get around. On top of that, the timing just wasn’t the best. It launched right before the PS4/Xbox One and wasn’t able to compete with either graphically. This made things difficult for developers, on top of having to figure out how to incorporate the Gamepad. That controller wasn’t as bad as some make it out to be, but it wasn’t a natural fit for every game. Finally, the name “Wii U” probably did add to the system’s grief. The Wii brand was huge, but the hype surrounding the original system had already faded by the time the Wii U released in 2012. Thus, regardless of whether folks realized the Wii U was a new system or not, many were disinterested just due to the novelty of the original Wii has already worn off.
Although things didn’t turn out super well for the Wii U, it did turn out to be the stepping stone that led Nintendo to the Switch. It can essentially be thought of as a prototype: rough around the edges, but the core concept was there. The Switch is a much more refined product in every way. It’s taken the idea behind the Wii U and improved upon it dramatically. Its design is sleek, modern and attractive. While it still can’t match the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of power, it has just enough for most developers to work with. The fact that it’s a hybrid system has also helped it to become a true standout. There’s never really been a system like this before, and it offers a genuine advantage to many gamers out there who lead busy lives.