Overall, the response to the Nintendo Switch has been great so far, with its global sales recently topping the 15 million mark. Much has been written about how quickly the handheld-console hybrid’s reached that figure. To put it in perspective, that’s the same number of systems the Wii U managed to sell in its five-year lifespan.
If Nintendo has its way – and assuming the Switch’s success continues – then the current system could have a long life ahead of it. Far longer, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto suggests, than the five to six years that is more typical of a home console.
“Up until now,” Miyamoto recently told investors, “the hardware life cycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that.”
As GameSpot notes, this would mean the Nintendo Switch would still be going strong in 2023 and possibly even further into the future – a weird prospect, given that the year 2023 sounds like the kind of point in our history where we’ve all been uploaded to the cloud or something.
In terms of support, the Switch certainly has the wind behind it right now. Although the system can’t hope to compete with the hardware grunt of the Xbox One or PS4, it’s managed to endear itself to a broad cross-section of smaller indie developers. This leads us to another statistic: the Switch now has three times the number of games as the Wii U had in the first 11 months of its life cycle. In the short term, that’s good news for the Switch’s longevity, especially when coupled with the quality of first-party releases Nintendo has released so far.
The Switch’s long term success depends partly on what Nintendo does next. Has it already released its absolute best games, given that we’ve already had the acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, or does it have some more surprises around the corner? To give the Switch the kind of longevity Nintendo wants, it’ll have to keep finding ways of selling systems – something it’s already trying to do, in its own odd way, with its Labo cardboard-and-software experiment.
Rather than sell one console per household, Nintendo’s plan is to ensure “every single person” owns a Switch. That’s a lofty goal, and if Nintendo can get somewhere close to it, then the Switch may wind up as another long-lasting phenomenon like the Wii (100 million units sold) or the DS (combined sales: 143 million units). Even if it doesn’t, Nintendo can at least rest assured that the disappointing response to the Wii U is already behind it.