Five years in, Nintendo's Switch gamble paid off in spades

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,141   +154
Staff member
The big picture: Time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s exactly what Nintendo has been doing over the last five years with its Switch handheld game console. The unlikely hero was greeted with equal parts fanfare and uncertainty but passed its tests with flying colors.

The Japanese gaming giant was attempting to rebound from the disappointment that was the Wii U with yet another portable console at a time when traditional, more powerful systems from Microsoft and Sony were battling for supremacy.

Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata, who led development on the Switch, died suddenly in July 2015, casting even more uncertainty over the device and Nintendo’s future.

Nintendo marched on, launching the Switch on March 3, 2017, for $299.99 with a dozen games to choose from including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Despite the odds, it became Nintendo’s fastest-selling console with sales of 2.74 million units in the first month.

Nintendo went on to launch a handheld-focused version of the system called the Switch Lite in late 2019 and an upgraded version of the base console with an OLED screen last October.

Things haven’t really slowed down much over the past five years. Just last month, it was revealed that the Switch surpassed 100 million units sold faster than any console in history. It’s also Nintendo’s best-selling home console ever and is ranked as the fifth best-selling console ever behind the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS family, Game Boy & Game Boy Color and the PlayStation 4.

Image credit Max Harlynking, Magnus Engo

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Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
While MS and Sony go with "better spec = better system", Nintendo focuses on actual FUN.

While I have nothing against the PS or Xbox - they are basically just PCs with dedicated IP...
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
"While MS and Sony go with "better spec = better system", Nintendo focuses on actual FUN."

Microsoft hasn't built a handheld yet.

Sony's problem is they continue to do stupid things that defy their own gaming design.

#1 The PSP didn't have dual analog which made it terrible for FPS games.
#2 The Vita came with dual analog sticks but suffered from lack of game diversity.
#3 Both systems required proprietary memory which was just plain stupid since it was obviously a profit-motive but the market itself preferred SD cards and later: micro SD for mass storage.

Nintendo's biggest benefit is that they have a ton of IP: Mario Kart, Mario Bros, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Zelda, etc,etc,etc All they really do is keep remaking the same game over on newer technology, but it works. They get some original content here and there: RPG and simulations which are pretty good, but I personally think the controller design was ridiculous and the Switch Lite improves on that by targeting the younger audience...with a smaller screen and body, larger face buttons than the Switch's JoyCon controllers, and generally more durable construction. As a result of the smaller screen and lower functionality, the Switch Lite battery life is longer than the original Switch model played in handheld mode.

I am just glad that both Nintendo and Sony started building these things properly.
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,145   +2,304
The real gamble was partnering up with nvidia, given the fact that nvidia has backstabbed and screwed every single one of the companies that made the mistake of partnering with them.

I know, the drones dont care about that, tribalism and stuff...
 

nnguy2

Posts: 422   +882
No one gonna comment how A/B buttons placement are switched between Japanese and US manufacturers are messing up controls when moving from one system to the other?
 

nnguy2

Posts: 422   +882
The real gamble was partnering up with nvidia, given the fact that nvidia has backstabbed and screwed every single one of the companies that made the mistake of partnering with them.

I know, the drones dont care about that, tribalism and stuff...

Yes Nintendo was literally AMD's phone a friend after the mismanagement of the late 2000's
 

defaultluser

Posts: 412   +333
How is this a "bet" at all? The Tegra already created the worlds most successful Android ARM high-performance console in the history of man!

Just because they targeted X1 at desktops first, didn't mean Nvidia hadn't already planned for the mobile cut.
 

Nintenboy01

Posts: 217   +174
The real gamble was partnering up with nvidia, given the fact that nvidia has backstabbed and screwed every single one of the companies that made the mistake of partnering with them.

I know, the drones dont care about that, tribalism and stuff...
At least they finally broke free from PowerPC - the Wii U CPU was quite ancient for something that came out in 2012 (3 PowerPC 750CX-based cores running at 1.24 GHz).
 

letsgoiowa

Posts: 68   +127
While MS and Sony go with "better spec = better system", Nintendo focuses on actual FUN.

While I have nothing against the PS or Xbox - they are basically just PCs with dedicated IP...
Idk, I think it'd be a lot more fun if it was able to run games at 60 FPS docked (or even a stable 30 fps locked in portable) and in HD (720p+) or above in 2022...Instead we see a lot of pretty bad ports or overall poor performance that doesn't need to be the case. Half on devs and half on weak hardware.
 

Beerfloat

Posts: 512   +975
The real gamble was partnering up with nvidia, given the fact that nvidia has backstabbed and screwed every single one of the companies that made the mistake of partnering with them.

I know, the drones dont care about that, tribalism and stuff...

Speaking of droning on about one particular only tangentially related topic.. here's NeoMorpheus
 

ScottSoapbox

Posts: 329   +587
If the steam deck does reasonably well this year, it could spark a portable race resurgence. Which would be great for consumers and choice.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,422

No one gonna comment how A/B buttons placement are switched between Japanese and US manufacturers are messing up controls when moving from one system to the other?
Never thought about it, I don’t think this has bothered me for more than maybe 20 seconds lol.
 

umbala

Posts: 605   +1,011
I used to love Nintendo 30 some years ago when I was kid. But when the N64 came out they decided to stop competing and just switch to a bunch of gimmicky bullcrap. Some of it worked out, some of it didn't (anyone remember VirtualBoy?). Don't get me wrong, I'm happy they're doing well and carved out a niche market for themselves. Personally I will never buy another Nintendo product until they stop with the ridiculous gimmicks. That's not likely to ever happen, so yeah.