By: Lexi Blakes
If you were on TikTok during the first month of quarantine, then you were probably an onlooker to the peak of the Nintendo Switch craze. Although the console was released 3 years ago in 2017, quarantine proved to be advantageous for Nintendo, as the $300 devices were sold out for weeks at the peak of demand. Families were Target hopping in hopes of scoring one as stores sold out all over the country. As of May 6th, 2021, Nintendo had sold a total of 84.59 million switches, alongside an additional 587.12 million software sales, outselling both the first-generation Xbox and the Nintendo 3DS. The minds behind Nintendo’s rebirth seemed to have unlocked the secret to “the historic comeback” and have carved out a space in console history. Three variables may have contributed to their success.
A Fresh New Idea Meets a Loved Classic.
The Nintendo Switch vaulted Nintendo out of the past and into the present by introducing new gems and fresh takes on loved classics, thereby launching a new era of videogame fanatics and raising the bar for interactive entertainment. The brand launched many games that are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, including Animal Crossing: New Horizons, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a series of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. games, which have made the switch even more enticing for potential buyers. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, specifically, filled a void of connection that caused many to suffer during quarantine. The new community of fans and the promise of creativity alongside the gift of escape from a terrifying reality landed it on Nintendo’s list of most successful games with a total of 11.89 million purchases as of June 2021. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild far exceeded that number of sales, with a total of 23.20 million purchases. Fans of The Legend of Zelda were pleased with the new release, as the new graphics and story line offered hundreds of hours of play for the casual player. Both games were advertised heavily months before their release and Nintendo’s decision to create games for a variety of audiences helped increase the appeal for the new game console.
Gen. Z and Millennial Nostalgia.
Nintendo’s legacy in the videogame industry, and their unique ability to reconnect with older players who loved earlier versions of their consoles in their youth allows them to reach fans of all ages with games that can engage any generation. The power of nostalgia cannot be underestimated, as it brings millions of dollars of revenue into industries across the U.S and can single handedly sell a product better than any celebrity endorsement or television advertisement. The first version of Super Mario Kart was released in 1992, and now, nearly 30 years later, the game is still a huge hit. Pokémon is also a game that crosses many generations, as the first-generation release dates back to 1996. Nostalgia is uniquely powerful for videogames, as it reminds people of a more carefree time. During the pandemic, reconnecting with that feeling of childhood joy made the Nintendo Switch worth the purchase.
Fresh, new software.
The Nintendo Switch offers a gaming experience unique from other consoles on the market. With a vintage design, and a remodeled exterior that resembles the original VHS inspired exterior of the original console, Nintendo has its own defined image. Now and in the future, they have no plans to stop this creativity and innovation. In an article interview for The Washington Post with writer Gene Park, Doug Bowser, current president of Nintendo of America, stated that the Nintendo Switch is “redefining what a console life cycle can look like” and looking to continue on their path of success with “a strong cadence of content”. He was very clear on Nintendo’s vision, also mentioning that they see themselves “as an entertainment company that is focused on very unique entertainment experiences”. Their goal of creating products with specialized, engaging content on a durable console is another reason customers are investing in Nintendo.
The formula for reclaiming relevancy within such a competitive market has to do with luck just as much as strategy. A series of planned and unplanned factors, as well as the accumulation of the company’s hard work and vision, is the reason for the extreme success of the Nintendo Switch. Even after this great achievement, the company is still looking to the future for more opportunities to push boundaries in the world of interactive entertainment.