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Switch Could Supplant Wii As Best-Selling Nintendo Console, GameStop Exec Says

Wii had an install base of 101 million units, and GameStop sees strength in Switch's numbers.


Wii was a very popular console for Nintendo, boasting an install base of 101 million units in total after its launch in 2006. After the misfire of Wii U, Nintendo could have an even bigger hit on its hands based on early returns, according to an exec at the retailer GameStop.

"The Nintendo Switch is off to a start right now that it could possibly eclipse the Wii," GameStop senior director of merchandising Eric Bright told Game Rant. "Initial sales on this have been phenomenal. I can't give straight numbers, but I can say we're seeing one of the highest attach rates of software and accessories to a device that we've seen in a long time."

That's a bold statement for a hybrid console that hasn't even reached its third week in consumers' hands, but Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aime has already said that the first two days of Switch sales have outpaced Wii sales during that same time period, and last week, research firm SuperData said the Switch had sold more than 1.5 million units worldwide. So the comment is not being made off-hand. Nintendo's goal had been to sell 2 million units by the end of March, and if the SuperData numbers are accurate, that goal will be realized with a few hundred thousand units to spare.

Those numbers are also impressive given that availability of the Switch was somewhat limited at launch, but that has improved as Nintendo has ramped up production of the unit. While Nintendo has not released long-term projections, an analyst with research firm DFC Intelligence says that the Switch could push 40 million units by 2020, crushing the 13.5 million Wii U's sold.  Even developers surveyed think that Switch has strong future possibilities.

Bright also said that extra JoyCon controllers and chargers were the best-selling accessories at launch. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has ridden the Switch's early success as well, so much so that GameStop is planning its own bundles with the new console. "Because of the popularity of Zelda, which is one of my top picks, we’re putting together a Zelda bundle of hardware and accessories for customers to pick up online,” Bright said.

That's a smart move, given that SuperData also revealed that 89% of users that bought a Switch also purchased Breath of the Wild. Of course that raises the question of whether the Switch is popular alone or whether the power of Link's return is fueling the hardware sales. When the NPD numbers for March come out next month, it will be interesting to see the Switch numbers. It would be even better if Nintendo was a bit more forthcoming with information on the console, not just in sales, but in general.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
    • reply
      March 22, 2017 9:32 AM

      But where can i buy one!?!?! /sigh

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      March 22, 2017 2:41 PM

      I honestly don't see it happening.

      Nintendo is still behind the curve as far as hardware is concerned,and in two years,games will be so far beyond the capabilities of the switch that no AAA third party developer will even think about touching it.

      I predict that this time next year,there will be tons of switches still sitting on the shelves.It'll more than likely stay an indie dev"s dream and that's where it will end up calling home,and that won't be enough to come close to catching the Wii's total sales.

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        March 22, 2017 2:47 PM

        You forget they would like to replace the 3ds as well. It might not need PS4 ports. Have you used one yet? I'm in love with it.

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        March 22, 2017 2:50 PM

        I'd say ahead of the curve in hardware innovation

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        March 22, 2017 2:52 PM

        I'll take that bet...I think switch is a hit

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        March 22, 2017 2:53 PM

        In 2 years the newswitchu or something will be available like they have done with every handheld before. Also its the handhelds capability that is driving sales an nobody buys it as sole dedicated console. If you are 12 year olds and have to petition your mom for a console a switch might not be the best choice.

        If you own a console already or a moderately capable pc the switch is the missing link to nintendo and generally whacky japanese developers library.

        As you said, this thing has the potential to replace steam for the standard indy library. Its not hoping to play star citizen or witcher 3 but my pc isnt going to play mario odyssey anytime soon either.

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          March 22, 2017 3:02 PM

          Just to list a few franchises that will only come out here and justify a purchase: pokemon,monster hunter, smash, fire emblem/golden sun/advancewars, xenoblade, mario/luigi/donkeykong/wario/yoshi/kirby everything, metroid, zelda,animal crossing,earthbound/mother, f-zero and that’s just their most obvious first party ips.

          Stuff like bayonetta2 or as rumored beyond good and evil2 (this mofo alone would make me buy a switch) are probably also switch only/first.

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        March 22, 2017 2:56 PM

        I didn't think it would sell as well as it has, because they were not treating it as the successor to the DS, but instead the Wii U. I thought that consumers would have cold feet due to the language they were using between the Switch reveal, and launch.

        Wii sales were a right place, and right time fluke. The Nintendo DS line is going on 8 fucking years old since a hardware update. Despite the language used the Switch is the successor to the DS. IMO Nintendo doesn't know what to do in the proper console scene. Hopefully they are able to track dock usage, and if so I'd love to see the info. Gamers spoke loudly with the PS4. Straight up no nonsense console gaming machine. Don't want no kinect, or "unique" control scheme. As the costs decrease I could see Nintendo attempt to summon a Wii moment, and do a pure VR system.

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          March 22, 2017 3:06 PM

          well the thing is...there's a big demand for the hardware and form factor. Fantastic games help (like Zelda) as a killer app...but there is something very awesome about how they designed a system that can be portable, great set top console, and very accessible multiplayer

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          March 22, 2017 3:29 PM

          I'd say this is another take on no nonsense gaming hardware. That thing gets you into the game faster than any other console out there.

          Also, I think they are doing the same thing they did when the original DS came out. In public they called the DS a third pillar. Probably so they could dump it and save face and release a Gameboy Super Advanced if it flopped. But internally I'm sure they were hoping for the results they ended up with. A great GBA successor.

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            March 22, 2017 3:32 PM

            3DS was their worst selling handheld in company history.

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              March 22, 2017 3:34 PM

              sorry this was for EvilDolmite's post below.

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              March 22, 2017 3:36 PM

              Right. And they kept he GBA lines going until the Lite went absolutely insane.

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                March 22, 2017 3:38 PM

                I dunno what happened. I'm pretty sure I had ED's post highlighted when I responded. My response doesn't make much sense in reply to you, haha.

                in any event I agree with you point (I just read it.

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              March 22, 2017 3:56 PM

              And yet it was the most successful console of this generation. Even six years in it had the best selling holiday game by a very wide margin.

              Anything that is the Pokemon/Monster Hunter/Fire Emblem machine has to be respected.

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                March 22, 2017 4:00 PM

                ? are you comparing it to home consoles when you say "this gen?" If so isn't the market just VITA (lol)? If not, I believe the PS4 will outsell it before 2018 is over.

                Plus do we ever compare home to mobile? I mean hell, you even hold onto the distinction that Nintendo home consoles are one thing and Sony/Microsoft are another, which of course I don't agree.

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                  March 22, 2017 4:05 PM


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                  March 22, 2017 4:11 PM

                  I am comparing it to home consoles, just as I'd compare the sales of handheld console games with home console games. You can't talk about holiday 2016 sales without Pokemon Sun & Moon in the conversation.

                  It is totally relevant and is clearly a big reason why Nintendo is combining the two platforms.

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                    March 22, 2017 4:20 PM

                    Understood. Language confused me since I don't think of handhelds as "consoles," but nbd.

                    In any event, it's not a favorable comparison for N since the 3ds has an almost 3 year headstart, cost $150 (and then $230) less than a PS4, and as I said, will be eclipsed by the end of this year - and if not almost certainly the beginning of 2018.

                    Perhaps the funniest (surprising?) stat is that the 3DS underperformed vis a vis the PSP by 15,000,000 units.

                    as you said - and I agree - those games are a force to be reckoned with. but there is no way to spin the staggering drop off in hardware and software from DS to 3DS. if that market segment is doomed bcs of mobile (which I hope it isn't), then that is bad news for N.

                    I guess Sony peacing out and MSFT aborting any dreams portends the doom and gloom notion?

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                      March 22, 2017 4:30 PM

                      Sony dropping out is understandable, but disappoints me. I love my Vita, but Sony can get bent with the obscene overpriced proprietary memory cards. That did not help the system one bit. In a world of smartphones the handheld market is a strange place, but still has a proper niche.

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                      March 22, 2017 4:57 PM

                      Smartphones have eaten at the more casual portion of the market. The days of the DS selling 150 million units is over. Something like the PSP (so massive in Japan that their store sections still dwarfed the PS4 section the last time I was there) would be impossible now.

                      The portion of the market that wants deeper games is clearly still there and 3DS software sales (and continually rising quality) show that demand is still there. I don't know how continued strength in its sales, even in the face of smartphones, can be spun otherwise. This isn't the mid-2000s anymore.

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                        March 22, 2017 5:16 PM

                        I guess we're hypothetical businessmen (presuming you are not, in fact, a businessman), of a different cloth. I'd be freaking out, begging the CEO to change course.

                        You see "continued strength in...sales." I see a -90,000,000 drop in hardware from one (one!) product gen to the next, and a -600,000,000 drop in corresponding software, and I'm speechless.

                        I also wonder where the bleeding stops.

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                          March 22, 2017 5:48 PM

                          You're not looking at relative strength compared to other platforms, nor are you looking at how the software still prints money. They're also being proactive by diversifying with mobile, theme parks, etc.

                          If there's anyone to be concerned for its the Xbox. That thing has been a boondoggle and with no killer apps I don't see how Scorpio is going to change its course. Expanding Xbox games to PC is a good move except that the Windows Store is even more reviled than Origin, forget about Steam.

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                            March 22, 2017 7:53 PM

                            I believe I'm looking at both factors mentioned in your first sentence.

                            You and I have discussed other platforms at length. PS4's sales and the estimated sales of XB1. We've also discussed Wii, it's successor, and now that I type this, I don't think there's a modern console we haven't discussed w/r/t market performance. What conclusion(s) do you believe I am failing to draw?

                            As for software, I just cited that total number sold, which is at 300+ million, whereas the DS was near a billion. That is, of course, insane. I know they are still moving software. My point is that they are moving nowhere near as much. It's the same simple point as Wii to Wii U (e.g., MK Wii vs MK 8), but thankfully not nearly as dramatic a drop-off.

                            Agreed on Xbox. I don't know what their deal is. Surprising how unappealing even their first party games have been, outside of Forza.

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                              March 22, 2017 8:17 PM

                              And again, smartphones have taken away from that casual DS market. Brain Training, Nintendogs, block matching games all that stuff is on mobile and that's not coming back.

                              The point is that they've maintained a sustainable and sizable base despite the smartphone market. Its so strong that it just had the fastest selling Pokemon game ever, which is saying a lot considering that its at least as big a brand as Mario by now. Surely one of the largest audiences on console is still worth something?

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                              March 22, 2017 9:36 PM

                              Handheld gaming systems are complimentary to smart phones. There's still enough of a line between the two for them both to exist. 3DS will hold the market on hard core Handheld games, not so much the shorter casual games. Phones don't really have much in the way of that going for them.

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                          March 22, 2017 7:22 PM

                          I wonder how many units they would have sold if they made enough of them. From what I've heard the 3ds has been about impossible to get for like 6 months.

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            March 22, 2017 3:36 PM

            Seriously- whatever else it might do wrong, it gets you into the game fast. That's big if your target buyer has kids or are busy. The idea that I could just pop it out of the dock when I need to go to work or run an errand is huge.

            Yes, it won't get the hardcore crown, but that was never going to be its target audience, and I'll wager there are a lot more adults with limited time than hardcore gamers with unlimited time to sink into games. Let your competitors have the hardcore crowd, while you get that group that wants to game in their spare time.

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              March 22, 2017 4:03 PM

              it'd be interesting to see how many people seemingly never touch the dock (myself, milleh, A10) and those who only use the dock.

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                March 22, 2017 5:16 PM

                Agreed. It seems great for what I think of as 'edge time', when you don't have time to sit down and dive into something, but you've got a littler here and there. The DS and DS Lite were perfect for that. The Switch seems like it could do that even better, letting you dive in when you want to, but also play when you have other stuff going on.

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                  March 22, 2017 5:24 PM

                  It really is - or has the potential to be. I've had an iPhone continually since the first. The number of games I've played for more than 5-10 minutes you can count on one hand. I just can't do it. I'd rather read instead. Or work.

                  VITA and 3DS were good - at best. Phone quality at worst.

                  Switch is the first time where you're like - ok, this is console quality software and hardware. I wish I could magically have AAA games to really work it out. It looks like it won't happen until next year.

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            March 22, 2017 3:59 PM

            At a software level Nintendo has always been no nonsense gaming, and I love them for that. With hardware they tend to go all over the place.

            For the handheld scene the thing is a no brainer. Personally I like to call it around the home gaming than full on mobile where smartphones took dominate control. In hindsight I wish I had preordered the Switch, but Nintendo killed my confidence in the system right before launch. As a console I have no interest in it. As a dedicated handheld the thing is unmatched.

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              March 22, 2017 4:01 PM

              He Wii and especially the Wii U were quite a bit slower getting into the game.

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                March 22, 2017 5:03 PM

                Totally. The Switch rolls the instant on of DS and 3DS with the quality of their home console games

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            March 22, 2017 4:18 PM

            I agree that save state is huge, but I don't believe it can be appreciated until it's actually experienced. Hell I'm still trying to convince a friend to get an SSD for the OS, and some games, but he is all "It's only 512 gb, I can get a 6tb drive for the same price". Without experiencing it he doesn't understand what it's like for applications to damn near instantly respond.

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              March 22, 2017 4:20 PM

              That's nuts. No SSD these days is bonkers.

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        March 22, 2017 3:30 PM

        Mobile. 3ds sales were through the roof. Switch is a Wii U v2 + 3ds in one.

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        March 22, 2017 3:38 PM

        Ah yes there it is

        - Positive thing happens to Nintendo
        - Positive story about Nintendo runs on the Shack
        - Excited Shackers comment on positive story
        - Somebody says "no matter what this story says, they're still doomed"

        the ciiiiircle of liiiiife

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      March 22, 2017 5:42 PM

      I would buy one if I could find one in a store.

      This seems to happen quite often. I get excited to buy something after the pre-sales are over, then can;t get one for months after release, then lose interest when they're actually available and either never buy one or wait until the price drops.

      This happens a lot with consoles, somewhat often with Apple products.

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        March 22, 2017 6:03 PM

        I've seen ten switches at three different stores here. Does Canada not have the demand the US does or something

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      March 22, 2017 7:31 PM

      But it doesn't have 10804K1440HDR3DCURVEDDDGOWCOD support, why would anyone want it? It's almost like all those losers out there buying Switches want to actually play games instead of masturbating over technical specs!

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        March 22, 2017 9:39 PM

        Play a game anyway - yes it will get more but everyone is playing Zelda. If you want a fleshed out library PS4 and Xbone have it beat badly.

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