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It's crazy to think that there were all sorts of articles two years ago about Nintendo being on its death bed. It was the typical barrage of what's usually known as "Nintendoom." It's been going on for ages, but all of that was put to rest recently when news broke that not only is the Nintendo Switch selling well, it has actually surpassed the Wii U's lifetime sales.
Interestingly enough, the news about the Switch surpassing the Wii U came from a post over on the official Nintendo website as part of the earnings report for the last quarter. There's just three images comparing the numbers between the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, and they speak volumes.
The Nintendo Switch sits at 14.86 million units having been moved throughout all of 2017, whereas the Wii U's lifetime sales sit at 13.56 million units. The Wii U launched back in 2012, so it's quite a feat that it took the Switch one year to accomplish what the Wii U couldn't do over the course of five years.
In fact, the Switch is on target to hit the 16 million SKU mark that Nintendo had bumped up for the hybrid system from the original 8 million figure that the company was gunning for throughout the fiscal year. Nintendo is essentially less than 1.2 million away from the 16 million mark. Keep in mind that the company expected to hit 16 million by March, 2018. But, if sales continue going the way they are, the global install base could be at 16 million by February. This would basically beat market expectations and put the Switch on track to catching up to the Xbox One's lifetime sales by the middle of fiscal 2019.
What's more is that the Nintendo Switch's software sales are already at the halfway mark of what the Wii U's lifetime software sales are. The Wii U managed to move 101.65 million units from 2012 to the end of 2017, whereas the Nintendo Switch managed to move 52.57 million pieces of software from March 3rd, 2017 to December 31st, 2017.
This is a remarkable feat for Nintendo and shows that there's a strong market for a hybrid gaming machine that allows you to play both at home in front of your large screen television, and on the go.
There was a lot of hoopla, confusion and chatter early in 2017, ahead of the Switch's release, about how well it would do and whether or not the gamble would pay off. Nintendo had some of the slickest marketing available for the game console ahead of release, which really ramped up the expectations. Strong releases all throughout 2017 helped maintain consumer interest, especially with heavy hitting AAA launches like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, both of which sold well right out of the gate.
The Wii U's lack of consistent software support combined with a heavy price tag and a poor marketing campaign that didn't really communicate its value to consumers helped ensure it had a short and uneventful life on the marketplace. Nintendo definitely course corrected with the Nintendo Switch, which is likely how it managed to surpass the Wii U's lifetime sales within the span of just nine months.