It’s now official: the Nintendo Switch has overtaken 3DS lifetime sales to become the 5th bestselling Nintendo console of all time. With no signs of slowing down Nintendo’s handheld-home console hybrid is only bested by the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS and Wii console families. It’s probably not going to be too long before we see the Switch overtake the Game Boy Advance too.
When a console is performing so well, there’s rightly focus on why the platform has managed to find so much success. How did Nintendo get it all so right?
There are many reasons for the Nintendo Switch’s success. Firstly, fantastic first-party games that directly drive console sales. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey took Nintendo’s biggest franchises in an exciting new direction, making them ‘can’t miss’ exclusives. Meanwhile, Nintendo benefitted from a clever and eye-catching design that finally crossed the handheld / console divide and hadn’t been seen in mainstream design before. And of course there’s also its attractive price point when compared to competitors.
What really makes the Switch stand out however is its continued strong third party support. With franchises like Bioshock and XCOM sitting in the same content library as Mario and Zelda, investing in the Switch ecosystem no longer means missing out on some of the biggest IPs in the world. Creating a Switch version just makes sense, thanks to a large and engaged install base.
Add to this the fantastic contribution of indie developers who now focus on developing for Switch almost as much as they do for PC. For many, the Switch console is the best way into playing exciting new indie games, that make the Switch’s catalogue even richer. For many people, it’s all about the games. No wonder then that amazing first-party games, plus thousands of indie games, plus great third party games that were previously unlikely to be found on a Nintendo console, has done the trick.
We see so many great third party games on the system thanks to Nintendo’s approach to working with third parties and their desire to make the Switch a welcome home to studios of all shapes and sizes. They have also been more relaxed with the use of their characters in spinoff games. Mario x Rabbids and Zelda x Necrodancer fell outside the usual formula for Nintendo but have turned out to be very successful indeed. Experimentation and collaboration are paying off.
At Virtuos, we became experts at using Nintendo’s toolkits to make games look and run great on their hardware, whether that’s in TV or handheld mode. The Switch platform presents interesting challenges due to the limitations of the technology, but we view these challenges as big opportunities, that can open the door to new games, or genres, that were not able to make the jump from console to handheld before.
Our teams have worked hard to provide the best adaptations for the Switch, but they have also been supported at every step by Nintendo and its tools, which encourage greater development. We love this approach, as it chimes with our purpose to make great games even better by bringing them to even more players.
We’re very excited about new projects on the horizon for this summer and beyond. There’s plenty more to come from the Switch for years to come.