The had an incredible second year, yet the system failed to meet the sales target set by the company. Nintendo had originally wanted to sell 20 million Switches in 2018, yet they only managed to sell just over 17 million consoles.
Nintendo’s plan for 2018 revolved around a strong holiday lineup for their first-party titles, while depending on a lot of third-party support throughout the rest of the year. The end of 2018 saw Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu! & Let’s Go Eevee!, Super Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being released for the Switch and these all brought in big numbers for the company, but there wasn’t much first-party support throughout the rest of the year. Nintendo came close to achieving their goals, yet the higher-ups at the company feel that they could have hit that sales target if they had approached things differently.
Nintendo has released the Q & A Summary from their recent financial briefing, which discusses the sales targets and why they were missed. Shuntaro Furukawa (the current president of Nintendo) explained that the company hadn’t been able to convey the appeal of the Nintendo Switch to new consumers and that the Switch hadn’t performed as well throughout the year as they hoped, except during the holiday season.
The Q & A Summary blames the lack of steady first-party Nintendo titles throughout the year as the cause of the Switch missing its sales target. Furukawa wants to increase the number of Switches sold in 2019 from the previous year, which means that they’ll be revising their strategy going forward. If Nintendo is planning on a strong lineup for the first six months of 2019, then they’ll have to start announcing some games, and soon. As of the time of writing, the only first-party Nintendo Switch title that has a solid release date for 2019 is Yoshi’s Crafted World (March 29th), with games like Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and the next generation of Pokémon games having a tentative “2019” release date. The recent removal of Metroid Prime 4 from the schedule has also taken a highly anticipated game away from a potential 2019 release.
If we’ve learned anything from Nintendo since the release of the Switch, it’s that they have no problem waiting until the last minute to announce games. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was only announced shortly before E3 2018 of the same year that it was released, which is in stark contrast to many third-party developers, who will sometimes announce games years in advance. There are rumors that Nintendo is planning to release a handheld-only version of the Switch at a lower price point in order to coincide with Animal Crossing and the next Pokémon games, which could be the push needed for the Switch to beat the sales numbers it had hit in 2018.
It’s possible that has an amazing lineup of games just waiting to be released throughout 2019, but the company needs to start giving out information soon in order to dispel any doubts in the minds of fans and investors about their plans going forward.