There’s a lot of good news in Nintendo’s latest quarterly report. The Switch continues to sell extremely well, with 9.41 million consoles moved last quarter and 14.49 million units for the entire year. Software sales were excellent for the company as well, with multiple games racking up high sales figures:
- Super Mario Party: 5.3M units
- Pokémon: Let’s Go!: 10M units
- Super Smash Bros Ultimate: 12.08M units
That last is incredible, given that SSBU released in December. The Switch has now had 20 games sell one million copies or more. The Switch dominated overall Nintendo console sales, at the expense of the 3DS ecosystem — sales of that hardware totaled 2.31M units, down 60.5 percent year-on-year. The SNES and NES Classic systems were brisk sellers, moving a total of 5.83M units. Nintendo has indicated it doesn’t intend to keep those systems on shelves forever and the company has no plans to build an N64 Classic at this time, so we recommend anyone who wants either the NES or SNES to pick one up now.
As impressive as Switch sales have been to date, Nintendo has slightly trimmed its own sales forecast for its full fiscal year. The company now expects to sell ~17M Switches by April, down from its initial 20M projection. That would bring the company to an estimated 34.78M Switches sold in two years by April of 2019. It’ll be interesting to see if Switch can catch the Xbox One’s sales total before the next generation of Xbox launches. I’m not sure it can, but it ought to be fairly close.
As for the 3DS, it’s clear that demand for Nintendo’s handheld device is falling. With sales slumping 60.5 percent year-on-year, it’s not clear how much longer the company will maintain a separate ecosystem for its cheaper handheld. This point is emphasized if you look at Nintendo’s own list of upcoming games for both consoles. The Switch has 46 titles listed in its “Upcoming” section. The 3DS has four. When Gamespot rounded up the best upcoming games for 3DS and Switch, the former had just two spots while the Switch snagged every other win. Even franchises long associated with mobile devices are steadily making the jump to the Switch.
Nintendo’s own comments in its financial report indicate the 3DS is basically on life support. In its Consolidated Financial Forecast, the company writes: “For Nintendo 3DS, we will continue to leverage the platform’s rich software library and its hardware install base to further expand sales of evergreen titles.”
It’s no surprise that Nintendo would eventually retire the 3DS. The Nintendo DS reigned supreme from 2004-2011. This will be the 3DS’s eighth year on the market. With lifetime sales of 74.84M units, the 3DS has been a success, even if it never matched the DS’s 154M sales. The interesting question now is, will Nintendo simply migrate the entire 3DS ecosystem and player base to the more expensive Switch, or will it offer a lower cost system at some point to attempt to appeal to the same player base? There may not be any imminent plans to kill off the 3DS, but it wouldn’t surprise us if the handheld’s days are numbered.