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Making The Switch: How Nintendo Won Back The West

Even those that have never owned or even played a video game, Nintendo and its iconic roster of characters (including Mario, Pokémon, Zelda and Donkey Kong) will be familiar. Many of these franchises have enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity thanks to the phenomenal success of the Japanese gaming giant's latest console: the Switch.


The Switch, which was released in March 2017, has broken numerous sales records in its first year. Early in 2018, Nintendo announced that the Switch had become the fastest-selling console in U.S. history, and beat out all other rival consoles to be the top-selling console in the U.S. in December 2017.  In Japan -- another important market -- its sales figures increased steadily throughout 2017, and global sales surpassed 10 million units in its first nine months. Nintendo recently said it expects to sell more than 15 million units by March.

The success of the Switch was unexpected, mainly due to its ill-fated predecessor, the Wii U. The story of that console is almost antithetical to that of the Switch. In the UK, the Switch has outsold the Wii U already, despite only being on sale for 11 months, versus the five years the Wii U was available.

"Unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly," Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo executive and creator of Mario told NPR in 2015. "The uniqueness of [the Wii U's tablet] features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them.”

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