The Wii U was a colossal failure for Nintendo. Barring the Virtual Boy, it is their lowest selling piece of hardware of all time, and everything from design issues to marketing disasters, one weird decision after another resulted in Nintendo losing a huge chunk of the marketshare they had captured with the Wii. With the Nintendo Switch, however, they came back stronger than ever, and it’s now hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that the Japanese company wasn’t in the worst shape of its life.
Speaking recently during a New York Gaming Awards Twitch stream (via Nintendo Life), former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime talked about that transition. After emphasizing just how much of a disaster the Wii U was for the Switch, Reggie went on to talk about the fantastic turnaround Nintendo enjoyed with the Switch (which is something he has spoken of in the past as well), saying that the hybrid system really was a “make or break” console for Nintendo.
“You know, Nintendo has done so many innovations in the space,” he said. “I think what Nintendo did with the Switch, after the poor performance of Wii U, I think to me and what I was part of, that’s my lasting memory.
“People forget, when the Wii U launched, the performance over that life cycle was so poor, I mean it was the worst-selling platform, I think maybe Virtual Boy was a little bit worse, but Wii U underperformed pretty radically in the marketplace.
“And when your only business is video games that next had to be successful and the Switch continues to be a dynamic platform – selling exceptionally well. And the ability for the company to come up with the concept, to bring it to life, to bring it to the marketplace, to have not only great first-party content but great third party and independent developer content – that is going to be something I will always be proud of.
“Along with so many of the other things I was part of, but the Switch really was a make or break product for the company and luckily it was a hit.”
As of September 30, 2020, the Switch had sold 68.3 million units worldwide, though that number is probably going to be much higher right now (Nintendo will be sharing updated figures soon, so we’ll know soon enough). The Switch dominated hardware sales all over the world in 2020, capturing 87% of the console marketshare in Japan, selling more than the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One combined in the UK, and being the best-selling console in the US.
Multiple leaks have suggested that a more powerful Nintendo Switch model with 4K capabilities is also in the works, and if that turns out to be soon, its sales should only continue to increase.