Nintendo’s Switch has been a bona fide smash hit for the company and its sales figures continue to impress two years after launch. Nintendo announced lifetime sales of 34.74M Switches for the fiscal year ended March 31, with 16.95M of those units sold in the past 12 months. That’s a 12 percent increase over the Switch’s launch year and pegs the platform as Nintendo’s bestselling platform since the Wii — which is to say, likely the second-best selling Nintendo platform ever.
With this latest report, the Switch has now officially outsold the Nintendo 64, at 32.93M units. The next target is the SNES, at 49.1M systems, which the Switch should handily outpace this year. Nintendo has stated that it expects to sell 18M Switches in FY 2020 (CY 2019), which would put it above Nintendo’s classic 16-bit platform.
In other sales news, the 3DS moved 2.55M units for the year, while the NES and SNES Classic Editions sold 5.95M units collectively. Put differently, Nintendo’s yearly sales figures for the 3DS, NES, and SNES are an appreciable percentage of Microsoft’s yearly Xbox One sales, which… ow. Continued sales of the Xbox One mean Nintendo probably won’t surpass that platform before the Xbox Next is presumably introduced in 2020, but it ought to come close.
Total software sales have also been excellent. So far, 23 Switch games have now surpassed the 1-million-copies-sold mark, with Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Pokemon: Let’s Go racking up 13.81M and 10.63M units, respectively. Nintendo’s overall operating profit for the year was $2.2B, up from 1.6B last year.
No New Switch Announcements at E3
Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furukawa shot down rumors that Nintendo would demo a new Switch model at E3 this year. “As a general rule, we’re always working on new hardware and we will announce it when we are able to sell it,” Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furukawa told reporters in Osaka. “But we have no plans to announce that at this year’s E3 in June.”
An earlier report from Bloomberg had said that Nintendo could release a new low-cost Switch model as early as June. That same report said that the Switch would also receive a ‘modest upgrade’ but that a more powerful version was not currently in the works.
A lower-cost version of the Switch could capture the 3DS’s market when that console inevitably toddles off the mortal coil, while a higher-performance or longer-lived variant could take advantage of the considerable performance improvements available to mobile devices since the 2015-era, 20nm Tegra X1 CPU inside the Switch debuted. Nintendo may not feel the higher product development costs are justified given the Switch’s lower price compared with its console rivals, and the company has never embraced the Sony and Microsoft trend of offering periodic console upgrades. The significant improvement in mobile power consumption and performance has fueled speculation — including our own — that the company might break from its previous approach this time around.
One possibility is that Nintendo might be timing its own performance improvement announcements against the unveiling of new consoles from Sony and Microsoft. This would be the opposite of the strategy the company used with the Wii U, which launched in 2012, a year before the PS4 and Xbox One.
There’s no chance that a 7nm Switch would match the performance of the PS5 or Xbox Next, but the performance and processing power leap from 20nm to 7nm would give Nintendo a significant set of upgrades to discuss in its own right, with potential resolution improvements and detail level increases. This might be seen as a better strategy for keeping consumer interest high during its rivals’ launch season. This is, however, strictly speculation on our part — Nintendo has given no sign that it will go head-to-head with Sony or Microsoft in 2020 with its own refresh cycle.