Nintendo Switch set to Smash Sales Target [Comparative Console Sales & Traffic Data]

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The Nintendo Switch has surpassed all expectations since its release 5 months ago. With some going as far as to characterise the hybrid console as a make or break for Nintendo’s future in the home console market, the Switch has risen to the challenge following the disappointment of the Wii U.

We’ve already examined how the Switch’s prospects were looking before the console launched and did so again one month after launch, and we now return with five months’ of sales and traffic data to examine in order to determine just how well the Switch is doing.

Sales data

We’re going to start with the sales numbers first this time, as we’ve now get enough data to start drawing some really interesting insights. Nintendo have recently announced that 4.7 million Switch consoles were sold by the end of June. We’ve been conservative and estimated the Switch to be around the 5 million unit mark at the start of August; it has almost certainly sold more, but due to stock shortages it’s difficult to put an exact number on this.

A note on these figures: these are estimates, made with the most relevant data available. Sources are available at the bottom of this post.

Nintendo Switch Xbox PS4 Wii sales data

This graph breaks down the sales for the current crop of major consoles - the Switch, the Xbox One and the PS4 - as well Nintendo’s previous two efforts, the hugely successful Wii and the disappointing Wii U.

Five months since launch, the Switch is on par with Microsoft’s Xbox One at about 5 million consoles sold. This squares with estimates from Nintendo that the console will sell 10 million units in its first year, a mark that the Xbox hit.

In our earlier prediction posts, we estimated the Switch was due to vastly outpace the Wii U, and that has proved to be the case. More Switch units have been sold in the first 5 months of the system’s life than the Wii U managed in its first year. The Switch is also performing admirably compared to the monster success of the Wii, which was unusual in that it picked up steam as it aged rather than vice versa.

Now for the real kicker: all the other consoles launched in the peak Holiday period. The Switch’s launch, at the beginning of March, coincided with one of the traditionally slowest shopping periods for gaming of the calendar year. This makes its sales numbers so far vastly more impressive. If Nintendo can fulfil the demand in November and December, expect the Switch to breeze past the 10 million unit mark by its first birthday.

This graph offers another look at the data, and gives an idea of current sales trajectories.

Switch sales progress v PS4, Xbox, Wii

Traffic data

Switch v Wii U

The first big test of the Switch was to best its predecessor, the Wii U. Naturally, the Wii U’s strongest few months were its first few, so if the Switch could beat these without the benefit of launching in peak Holiday season, it’d be encouraging.

As this graph demonstrates, search traffic for the Switch has dwarfed that of the Wii U. Not only did the Switch enjoy a vastly superior launch week than the Wii U (which managed just 60% of the Switch’s peak), but interest in the Switch has continued at roughly three times that of what the Wii U experienced after the initial launch month.

Switch v Wii U v Wii

Of course, comparing the Switch just to the Wii U isn’t the best comparison. After all, the Wii U was expected to sell 100 million units and only managed 13. The Wii, on the other hand, remains the litmus test for a successful Nintendo console.

Though clearly with a long way still to go, the following caveats should be applied to the above graph:

  • The Wii launched, like the Wii U, at peak Holiday time, whereas the Switch launched in traditionally one of the slowest months in the games industry. How well the Switch does this November and December will provide a crucial insight into how it will fare long term.
  • Unlike the Wii, the Switch has a key search synonym; ‘Switch’. This graph takes into account only those searching for ‘Nintendo Switch’

Even though the Switch’s peak in launch week reached only 28% of the search volume that the Wii managed in its peak (which was just over two years after launch, remarkably), it’s done something the Wii U never managed to and overtaken the Wii in current interest.

Switch v PS4 v Xbox One

The Switch is offering much stronger competition to the domination of Xbox and PS4 than the Wii U did. As the number of owners of the system increases and the amount of people searching for games and accessories increase, it’ll be fascinating to see if the Switch can surpass one or both of Sony and Microsoft.


NintendoNintendoCNETBloombergGame InformerSonySony

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