In the first half of the fiscal year, Nintendo sold 6.84 million Nintendo Switch devices, compared to 6.68 million the previous year. Gaming performance is also better this year. It has been sold at least 97.08 million times; The previous year it was 95.41 million.
“Nintendo stands out”
According to CEO Shuntaro Furukawa, sales are mainly due to the release of the new game The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and The Super Mario Bros. film.
It was therefore not at all unexpected that sales would be better than last year. “2023 will be a great year for gaming in general, with highly anticipated titles being released, but Nintendo definitely stands out,” said Angus Moll, assistant professor of games studies at Leiden University.
Remarkably, the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s gaming console, is now selling more than last year. This was released in 2017, so at least six years ago.
The switching continues
“It’s very unique that a device that was introduced six years ago is still relevant today,” said Jurgen Tiersma, a Nintendo expert and former Nintendo employee.
Generally, consoles have a shelf life of five to six years, after which a new version comes to the market. For example, the Playstation 4 was released at the end of 2013, and six years later the Playstation 5 was already announced. That’s not the case for Nintendo, as a Switch successor has been a long time coming and is not yet on the agenda. The only upgrade the gaming console has had — a bigger, better screen — is also more than two years old.
So the Switch will last a long time, but why not? “Nintendo is following its own path, and is choosing quality over quantity,” says Rene Glass, assistant professor of media studies at Utrecht University.
For example, the Nintendo console is currently the only console of the Big Three (besides the Playstation and Xbox) that can be used outside the home. It also helps that Nintendo takes the time to produce games in which its most popular characters, Mario and Zelda, play lead roles. When they are released, they often get 9 points In reviews.
Games also retain their value. Breath of the Wild, the Zelda game released six years ago, still sets you back more than €50. PlayStation and Xbox have many annual releases, such as FIFA soccer games. After two years, it usually costs only 20 euros.
The fact that Mario and Zelda remain valuable is also something Nintendo itself maintains. The company creates exclusivity around numbers by only using them for its own products. “Mario has been difficult to find on other systems over the years,” Glass says. It wasn’t until 2016 that enthusiasts were able to download Super Mario Run to see a Mario game in action on their smartphone screen.
Young and old
Above all, Nintendo games are known to young and old, the first Mario game dates back to 1983 and the first Zelda game was released in 1986. So it has been around for a while. “My daughter and I play Mario games together, just like I used to, so there’s something fun and nostalgic about it,” Moll says.
But this does not mean that the game company never comes up with something new. “There’s always an element of surprise at Nintendo, a new way to control or a new way into the game,” Tiersma said.
The latest Mario game is based on the classic Super Mario Bros., where Mario can only walk and jump left and right to avoid obstacles, but new coins can also be earned and characters can talk more.
Nintendo doesn’t always record
Does Nintendo always equal success? “I was also disappointed at times, with the Wii U for example, I knew it would never work.” says Tiersma.
The Wii U, available since 2012, was the successor to the Wii, and this time also included a touchscreen for controlling games. This did not catch on and was sold only 12 million times in the four years following release, after which the console was withdrawn from sale. Nintendo is also going through tough times.
But according to Tiersma, they’re ready for it: “Nintendo doesn’t mind releasing unpopular products, as long as they bring something innovative.”
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