Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Switch game console is off to a strong start and could ship around 8 million units by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
That’s according to IDC analyst Lewis Ward, who told CNBC Friday the Switch is on track to hit shipments of 2 million units by the end of March and hit 8 million units worldwide by next year. While Ward expects Nintendo to ship more units of Switch than the Wii U, which ended up being a dud in its first year for the game maker, he’s not sure it will do better than the Wii in the same period. The Wii U was launched in 2012 and only sold 13.6 million units before it was discontinued in 2015. The Wii, on the other hand, was a huge hit for Nintendo. (See also: Nintendo Switch Has a Lot Riding on Its Success.)
Along Came Zelda
The much-anticipated Switch game console sold out following Nintendo's roll-out last week. Shipments surpassed the opening weekend of the Wii in 2006. But one weekend doesn’t set the success of a game console. It’s the ongoing sales that matter. That’s not to say analysts and investors aren’t impressed with first-weekend sales. After all, Nintendo launched its latest game console in March, after the holiday season. But Nintendo has a weapon to cement continuing sales: the game Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild. The game is getting rave reviews and is generating a lot of interest in the Switch. "Breath of the Wild is being heralded as one of the best games of the year already," Ward said in the CNBC interview. "I suspect that this Zelda launch title is a key reason why first week sales have been strong."
In October, Nintendo revealed details about the Switch, which is a portable gaming system and home console rolled into one. Nintendo Switch uses a dock when it functions as a console. It switches to portable mode, when it lifted out of the dock. “Joy-Con controllers” enable players to switch between single- and multiple-player modes as well as supplement player controls when the system is used as a portable device. The controllers are detachable, and removing them instantly transitions the system into gaming mode. They can also be switched with Nintendo Switch Pro controllers.