The Nintendo Switch, just less than two years old, has managed to sell nearly 20 million units, according to the company's latest sales report.
The Switch, launched in March 2017, sold 1.88 million units between April and the end of June, bringing the total to 19.67 million units sold. Software sales totaled 17.96 million units in the same period.
Despite encouraging numbers, this actually represents a 4.4 percent drop in sales for the console on a year-over-year basis but a whopping 120.8 percent increase in software, on the other hand.
Digital sales, including digital versions of games and additional content, totaled JPY 18.5 billion, or about $166 million, representing an 8 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
Nintendo Labo, the company's do-it-yourself cardboard-based games, has sold 1.39 million units so far. Nintendo has also recently announced a new Vehicle Kit that includes accessories for controlling a car, a plane, and a submarine.
The Switch's powerful performance has enabled Nintendo to post an operating profit of JPY 30.5 billion, or about $274 million, and a revenue of JPY $168 billion, or about $1.5 billion.
The full financial report is available on Nintendo's website.
What It Would Take For The Next 20 Million Switch Units
Thus far, 2018 has been a pretty weak year for Nintendo Switch games, but that is understandable. The company is still preparing for a lot of big releases later this year, including two of its potentially biggest Switch games to date: the Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu!
Ultimate is shaping to be the biggest entry in the entire Smash Bros. franchise to date, not just because it features virtually every character that has previously appeared in the series but also that it is on the Switch. It means players will be able to play a Smash Bros. title in HD whenever and wherever they want, something that has never been possible in the series's entire history.
The two Pokémon games, on the other hand, will introduce the franchise to a new breed of players. Much of them will presumably come from the Pokémon GO craze of yesteryears.
Sure, many are already criticizing the two games for being too easy, but that is just par for the course considering Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, and Game Freak want the game to appeal to new players as much as possible. Veteran players do not have to worry, though, since a core Pokémon game is on the horizon, which brings the subject of the next 20 million Switch units.
The Key To The Success Of Nintendo Switch
Pokémon is a system seller, or in other words, it is a game that can significantly boost hardware sales. It did so for the Nintendo 3DS several years ago, first with X and Y, then with Omega Ruby and Omega Sapphire, and then with Sun and Moon plus its sequels, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
After Mario and Zelda, Pokémon is probably Nintendo's most milkable franchise yet. That means a lot is riding on this upcoming core Pokémon RPG title that is scheduled to arrive next year.
Players are expecting big things for this release, rightfully so since it will mark the first portable HD release for the franchise. If the three companies all pull their cards right, then this could be the biggest Pokémon game yet.
What Nintendo needs to think now is how to maintain momentum after Pokémon is released. It cannot possibly rely entirely on its first-party laurels to boost Switch sales. It must ensure the support of even more third-party developers to keep the Switch software library as robust and diverse as possible. Also, it must also think of ways to improve the hardware itself down the line.
The idea of the Switch — a home console that is also a handheld gaming machine — is an excellent, easily grasped concept. Unlike the Wii U, it is immediately obvious what the Switch is and what it can do, and thankfully, Nintendo has done the marketing right thus far.
However, Nintendo needs to evolve the console beyond that initial pitch. Instead of promoting the Switch as a rival console, the company must market it as a supplementary machine, one that players need even if they already have Sony or Microsoft's devices.