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Switch Is Nintendo’s “Main Business” Right Now, But All Eyes Are On The Horizon

Switch Is Nintendo’s “Main Business” Right Now, But All Eyes Are On The Horizon

Which should be obvious. With 139.36 million units sold as of 31st December 2023, hardware sales might be declining, but for a console at this latter stage in its lifecycle, the Switch is in rude health, with more users playing than ever before and Nintendo still selling a sackload of software.

For instance, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe just sped past 60 million sales, Pokémon Scarlet & Violet overtook Gold & Silver to become the third best-selling Pokémon games ever, and more recent releases Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. Wonder have surpassed the 20 million and 10 million sales respectively (the latter in just two months).

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo Switch
Still shifting 40 squillion copies weekly, give or take — Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

So where does this leave ‘Switch 2’ and the deluge of hardware rumours we’ve all been wading through for months?

It’s the same story every time the cycle comes to a close. How do you transition to the next generation without killing the golden goose?

Well, it’s still pretty much exactly where it was. Furukawa’s statement is certainly accurate, and on paper, it’s likely to remain so for the entire year — even if a successor is announced and launched in 2024. Manufacturing enough units to satisfy demand is always challenging (just ask Sony and Microsoft), so even if, hypothetically, a new console launched in October or November 2024, Nintendo would struggle to produce sufficient quantities to outpace the OG Switches.

Based on an LCD screen production estimate supposedly linked to an unannounced, upcoming console, it’s suggested that Nintendo aims to manufacture over 10 million units by the end of March 2025. If we assume a slimmer profit margin on brand-new hardware, combined with the fact that we’re not talking sell-through here (the number of consoles that have gone through the supply chain and into the hands of paying customers), just Nintendo’s rumoured production targets, Furukawa’s statement seems even more diluted. Yes, obviously the system that’s on shelves with an enormous library of critically acclaimed hits is the “main business” right now. ‘Switch 2’ could very well launch this year and the current console would almost certainly remain the better overall sales performer for the year. Any way you look at it, the Nintendo exec is technically correct.

Evasive answers are par for the course, especially when everyone’s eager to hear about the new hotness. It’s the same story every time the cycle comes to a close: How do you transition to the next generation without killing the golden goose in the process?

Nintendo DS with Metroid Prime Pinball
‘Third pillar’ my foot — Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

The strange experiment that was the Nintendo DS was famously a ‘third pillar’ to accompany the Game Boy handheld and home console lines — that was until its success made the GB obsolete and the third-pillar angle was quickly forgotten. Nintendo bungled the handover from Wii to Wii U to such an extent that kicking off with Switch felt like an entirely new game, with no thriving predecessor or revenue flow to worry about cutting off. The company is understandably cautious this time around, with a lot more to lose if ‘Switch 2’ turns out to be a ‘Switch U.’

Furukawa has been bullish about Switch’s longevity multiple times in the past, but while the hardware soldiers on as its eighth year approaches, the many and various rumours make it clear that there’s a huge appetite for fresh hardware from both players and Nintendo investors. We await the customary publication of the investor Q&A transcript for further evasions, although we wonder if Furukawa can make it through another round of results in three months’ time running only on OG Switch fumes.

Crucially, there’s nothing in these new comments to suggest that we won’t be getting new Nintendo hardware news in 2024. This is classic, third-pillar-style commentary to offer reassurance and avoid saying anything to scupper a marketing machine that is being tuned and tweaked to perfection before unleashing its awesome ‘Switch 2’ strategy. (Please, just reveal the name already — our single-quote key needs a rest!)

So, for those of you eager to hear more about the fabled follow-up, maintain Yellow Alert. And those of you fed up with the barrage of rumour and insinuation? Keep those shields up.

The article was first published here

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