A recently translated document from Nintendo’s quarterly conference call indicates the gaming company has hit a milestone Sony or Microsoft might well envy: 20 percent of its Switch sales are to households that already own at least one Switch.
“In the previous fiscal year, household demand for multiple systems accounted for roughly 20% of unit sales of the Nintendo Switch family of systems,” Shuntaro Furukawa, Nintendo’s president, is quoted as saying. “Going forward, we expect demand for multiple systems per household will increase even as hardware unit sales grow.”
Nintendo moved roughly 28.83 million systems last year, so this works out to about 5.76 million second Switches to households who already owned one. Most of the reasons for this are positive. The Switch is coming off a smoking hot year. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and Super Smash Bros. all had big sales, and the Switch was a sold-out commodity for virtually the entire year. Clearly, demand for the console is huge.
Not all the reasons driving additional demand, however, are positive. Nintendo’s baffling decision to only offer one island per Switch in Animal Crossing: New Horizons means families with multiple gamers have, in some cases, bought multiple Switches to deal with the crush. This situation, too, was exacerbated in the pandemic, given the dearth of outside options during virtually all of 2020.
Nintendo has made no secret of its goal to put a Switch in the hands of every gamer. “Our ultimate ambition is for a Nintendo Switch to be owned not just by every family, but by every single person,” Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo lead designer behind franchises like Mario and Legend of Zelda, has previously said.
How well Nintendo succeeds at pushing Switches into homes may depend on whether more games effectively punish people for not owning more than one console. There are signs that the company is testing Amiibo with non-cosmetic game boosts, to see if these figures prove popular; a recently announced Amiibo for the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for Switch will allow you to fast-travel anywhere within the game, provided you pick it up for $24.99. Amiibo aren’t new, and neither is the idea that you might gain an in-game power for owning one. But most affect gameplay less than a permanent fast-travel boost. One game and an Amiibo do not a consumer-unfriendly monetization strategy make, so hopefully, Animal Crossing’s design was a one-off, not the beginning of a new trend.
Nintendo’s overall forecasts for the year are conservative, with 25.5 million units expected to ship and 190 million game sales expected by March 2022. There are rumors of a Switch Pro arriving later this year, with 4K support when docked via Nvidia’s DLSS technology. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all expect strong global sales through the end of the year due to the continuing impact of the pandemic and pent-up demand for their products.
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