The Wii broke the Nintendo Co. Ltd.
curse of having every new console sell less than the one before it, and early returns from the Japanese gaming giant’s latest release, the Switch, suggest it could happen again.
With strong early sales for the Switch, investors like what they see so far, with Nintendo’s stock rising almost 15% since the console launched on March 3. But that kind of bounce actually might seem tame for Nintendo after the past year, which included a dramatic 112% rise after the July release of the PokemonGo mobile app and the 29% bounce after Super Mario Run was released for Apple Inc.’s
iOS. Both of those gains were short-lived, though.
Sales: Here’s what the Switch has to live up to
Since the Wii’s successful 2006 release, Nintendo has continued to try to innovate with interactive hardware elements, such as wireless motion and touch controls, rather than attempt to compete with Sony Corp.
and Microsoft Corp.
on processing power and high-end graphics.
While that worked well with the Wii, it wasn’t such a success with Nintendo’s follow-up, the WiiU. That system ended up being Nintendo’s worst-selling home console to date as a puny lineup of original games and inability to attract desirable third-party releases kept hard-core gamers away.
With the Switch, Nintendo has once again ignored the arms race of computing power and is focusing on an innovative form factor that combines a home-gaming console and mobile device.
Specs: How Switch stacks up against other consoles
The 6.2-inch LCD tablet with detachable controllers can be used on the go, but it can also be inserted into a docking station for use on a television. Initial reviews are mostly positive, though some complain about battery life, storage capacity and lukewarm performance compared with devices built solely for home or mobile gaming.
Nintendo has also bucked console convention by making the Switch a gaming-only gadget. Like the Wii and the WiiU, people can’t use the Switch as an all-in-one home entertainment unit to watch movies and television shows, unlike the Sony and Microsoft consoles that offer Blu-ray disc players and the ability to watch online content from services like Netflix
Games: Where the Switch may best its competitors
But Nintendo does have a few aces up its sleeve, most notably its catalog of original games.
While PS4 and Xbox One fans mostly have access to the same game titles on either machine, if you want to play a Mario or Zelda game on your TV, you need Nintendo hardware. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind,” for instance, was launched along with the Switch to universal acclaim.
However, given the new Zelda game is also available on the older WiiU console, with nearly identical graphics, some are left wondering if fans will want to run out and plunk down $299 for the Switch.
Since its release on March 3, the Switch has been hard to find. A senior director from GameStop has called the early sales “phenomenal” and says it could eclipse the Wii in sales. But the WiiU debuted to solid sales numbers, as well (3 million units in the first quarter) before quickly falling out of favor.
Nintendo fans, while not as rabid as, say, Apple devotees, are always good for a system launch. The Switch will have to maintain that excitement like the Wii did a decade ago to make it a true hit.