Was The Switch Launch A Success?

A month on from hitting the shelves, Pause Resume’s Craig Shields asks: Was the Switch launch a success?

It might not be the all encompassing revolution that the Wii was, but it’s certainly a far cry from the stagnant Wii U launch that Nintendo’s last console failed to recover from.

And while the Switch will no doubt benefit from the lessons Nintendo learnt from both consoles, has it been a success so far?

The answer is yes, but not an unmitigated one.

Most stores in Europe and the US have been sold out at some point in the console’s first month, and while we’re used to Nintendo offering limited stock in order to create artificial demand (see the NES Classic) it appears that that isn’t the case here. Nintendo’s own target of selling two million Switch units worldwide before the end of March is likely to have been met, with the console consistently selling out, although we’re still waiting on official confirmation of that.

A combination of the appeal of a shiny new Nintendo console, Breath of the Wild’s stellar reviews, and a need to release the console before the end of the financial year has led to the console’s early success. Although, the latter need to get the system out has led to a barebones OS, the well-documented Joy-Con issues and a last minute rush to ensure the eShop was ready to launch on time. In the run-up to release we heard from our own sources that there were concerns that it wouldn’t make launch – thankfully, the issues that confronted Nintendo were cleared up just in time.

“… when we first saw our game running on the Switch I thought ‘How is this even possible?’ And was instantly sold on the Switch.”

The Switch’s Joy-Con issues could’ve crippled the console just days after its launch. The issue surrounded its inability to keep a steady connection with the dock when played in TV Mode. In Zelda it caused consistent movement issues, with Link stopping and starting despite players consistently holding the left stick in one direction. This issue reared its head early and even affected some of our own consoles here at Pause Resume. Nintendo were initially quiet on the subject, only stating that they were investigating the issue.

A couple of weeks after launch and Nintendo have started to address the issue which centres around the Joy-Con’s Bluetooth connection not being properly insulated. Nintendo have fallen short of describing those affected as having a malfunctioning console, instead describing it as a “manufacturing variation”. Which is certainly one way of getting around using negative words in a press release.

Nintendo are currently taking in the affected Joy-Con controllers are attaching a small piece of foam to fix the issue, a workaround that is resulting in players confirming that the issue is now fixed thanks to this minor adjustment.

Was the Switch launch a success

Thankfully, the Joy-Con issue doesn’t appear as wide spread as first feared and it’s perhaps proof that luck might be on Nintendo’s side this time around. A potential killer issue was confined to a limited number of consoles with a simple fix, the lack of software has been subdued because of the brilliance of Breath of the Wild, and a lack of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube apps hasn’t affected consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The Switch is already the biggest console launch in Europe and the US, with Zelda: Breath of the Wild becoming Nintendo’s most successful standalone launch title, beating out Mario 64. The Switch even sold more than the Nintendo Wii in its opening few days on the market, although it would be very hard for it to keep toe-to-toe with a system that was almost exclusively sold out in its first year on the market.

“the latter need to get the system out has led to a barebones OS, the well-documented Joy-Con issues and a last minute rush to ensure the eShop was ready to launch on time”

Although, higher-ups at Gamestop seem to think that it might have a chance. GameStop senior director of merchandising, Eric Bright talked to GameRant about the Switch’s early days, saying: “The Nintendo Switch is off to a start right now that it could possibly eclipse the Wii. Initial sales on this have been phenomenal. I can’t give straight numbers, but I can say we’re seeing one of the highest attach rates of software and accessories to a device that we’ve seen in a long time.”

“We’re seeing tremendous success with the power chargers for the Nintendo Switch, as well as people coming in and picking up extra Joy-Con so people can turn it into a four-player device. We will soon be going online with all-new bundles. Because of the popularity of Zelda, which is one of my top picks, we’re putting together a Zelda bundle of hardware and accessories for customers to pick up online.”

In our own interview with the creator of Snake Pass, Sebastien Liese, he expressed that he and his team at Sumo Digital also had doubts about the Switch when they first saw the console late last year.

“When we got the dev kits way before anyone else knew what the Switch was going to look like, our initial reaction was that we weren’t sure about it and that it was a very risky move.”

“But when we first saw our game running on the Switch I thought ‘How is this even possible?’ And was instantly sold on the Switch.”

Nintendo’s Switch is certainly something different, and its consistent focus in marketing the ability of it to be playable anywhere has, so far, resonated with consumers. Whether that’s enough to see the console through a successful 2017 and beyond is yet to be seen. But so far so good for Nintendo, and that can only be healthy for the industry as a whole.

You can follow Craig on Twitter where he usually talks about sport and video games

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