By David Z. Morris
November 11, 2017

What a difference a year, and a couple of creative triumphs, can make.

Just before its release of Nintendo’s Switch console this March, we wrote that a failed launch could push the storied firm out of the hardware business altogether. Instead, the console has become a certified hit, and Nintendo will roughly double annual production in fiscal 2018 to between 25 and 30 million units, according to suppliers speaking with the Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, total Switch sales should approach 17 million by its first birthday in March of next year.

That performance, plus the new production plans, would put the Switch on track to compete with, or even beat, the most successful consoles of the current generation. The more-powerful Playstation 4 debuted in 2013, and has sold around 63 million units. Microsoft’s Xbox One, which also has more raw graphical oomph than the Switch, was released the same year and has sold around 30 million units to date. A Nomura Securities analyst told the Journal that the Switch could sell more than 115 million units by 2023.

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The Switch’s unique proposition – a home console that can transform into a portable mode – invited pre-release anxiety. But its success has been propelled above all by exclusive games hailed as among the best ever. That began with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was called a “masterpiece” on its March release.

More recently, Super Mario Odyssey has become the fastest-selling title in the Super Mario franchise’s history in the U.S. On Metacritic, Odyssey is also nearly tied with Breath of the Wild as the best-reviewed game of the year.

The Switch story is another illustration of the centrality of creative content to the success of what are superficially technology companies, whether Nintendo, Sony, Netflix, or Instagram. It has been a story all too familiar to Nintendo fans in another respect, with the Switch irksomely hard to find. Hopefully the updated manufacturing plans will solve that – though perhaps not in time for a stress-free winter gift-giving season.

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