Visual Capitalist has put together an absolutely beautiful chart that shows how Nintendo’s systems have sold since the olden days of the SNES up to now. Though for some reason the NES is omitted, this chart does a great job at showing the company’s rise to the top and sharp fall, before the recent resurgence brought on by the Nintendo Switch.
When Nintendo entered the console realm in the 80s, it took the world by storm and basically cornered the market. By the time the SNES and Game Boy came onto the scene, Nintendo had become a household name. Nintendo’s first hiccup was going against its partnership with Sony for what was initially known as the Nintendo PlayStation project.
Nintendo pulled out of the deal without telling Sony, which then led the disgruntled Sony to turn the PlayStation into its own device: now the best-selling console series ever. The fallout from this situation can be clearly seen by now the N64 sold worse than the SNES, being beaten by the original PS1. The mammoth that was the PS2 pummeled the Gamecube into the ground, though Nintendo still held steady thanks to the GameBoy Advance’s success.
The rise and fall
The Big N would finally see good days again when it released the one-two punch of the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Both ended up becoming best-sellers for the company; the DS being its best-selling handheld ever and the Wii being its best-selling home console ever. The DS is actually the second best-selling game system worldwide and the Wii is the fifth. After this surprising wave of success, Nintendo tried to recapture the spark with direct successors, the 3DS and Wii U.
Unfortunately, both systems were marred with similar problems: a weak launch lineup and high price-tag, which led to sluggish beginnings. While the 3DS did manage to rebound and become a soft success, the Wii U absolutely tanked and was prematurely killed off after just four years to make room for the Nintendo Switch. The Switch took a bit of the Wii U’s DNA and merged that with a truly revolutionary hybrid design and modern architecture, thus leading to a system that’s loved by both consumers and developers alike.
Switch success and future flare?
As of the time of writing, the Switch has sold nearly 70 million units worldwide, though this number stops at September 30, 2020. There’s likely far more out in the wild right now. The Switch has been selling remarkably well since its launch in 2017, with its sales performance often being compared to that of the Wii. In fact, it has now outsold every other Nintendo home console except the Wii. So, there’s a strong likelihood that it could match the Wii’s numbers, especially since Nintendo has promised to keep the Switch family running for at the next few years.
While there are rumors of a possible upgraded Switch being developed, Nintendo has not commented on any such device. Recently, the president of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser, said that the company will continue to focus its efforts on the two models we have right now: the flagship Switch and Switch Lite. But, Nintendo is a company known for being quite crafty and pulling surprises out of left field. So, we’ll have to wait and see if those rumors truly do only remain as such.