The Switch just bested the last great console to monopolize Japan’s weekly Top 30: the Famicom/NES, which also happens to be another Nintendo original. It’s a classic case of being better than the person you were before — or in this regard, the last revolutionary piece of gaming technology you developed that won accolades. Last week’s tally show all Nintendo Switch games, marking the first single-platform sweep for a weekly chart since Famicom did the same thing all the way back in 1988. The news comes to us from Game Data Library, which translated the Famitsu exclusive to English. Leave it to Nintendo to break its own record.
The Nintendo Switch boasts plenty of firsts. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, a high-definition remaster of a Wii classic, was the highest selling game of July 2021 in the United States, beating out Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War for the PlayStation and Xbox. The third bestselling game of last month was another Switch exclusive, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, making July 2021 a double victory for Nintendo stalwarts. Mat Piscatella of The NPD Group reports the same performance in the overall top sellers chart: not only is a Nintendo-only title (Skyward Sword) the top-ranking video game of the month, at least half of the United States Top 20 are Switch exclusives. With the addition of cross-platform games like Minecraft, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, and Mortal Kombat 11, Nintendo decimates its competition by at least 13 to seven.
Despite being classified as an eighth-gen console, the Nintendo Switch reports promising enough numbers to qualify as a ninth-gen and give Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S a run for their money. The Switch accounts for most of last month’s unit sales, according to the same tracker, and has already surpassed seventh-gen units like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in lifetime sales. The Nintendo Switch is still 27.4 million less than the PlayStation 4, its fellow eighth-gen console, and trailing the PlayStation 2 — the bestselling console of all-time — by 66 million, but expect the gap to narrow as Nintendo churns out new models with vastly improved specifications. Among newcomers, however, the Nintendo Switch already overtook the Xbox Series X/S as the United States’ most lucrative video game platform in the first six months of 2021.
The numbers are doubly impressive considering the Switch is a hybrid console, not a traditional one, and the first of its kind; Nintendo practically showed Sony and Microsoft up for never truly innovating beyond convention. The PlayStation may have virtual reality (VR) to narrow the playing field, but Nintendo has already perfected augmented reality (AR) in ways Bill Gates could only dream of — and it doesn’t even need an expensive, bulky headset. Nintendo has been ahead of the game for a while, having been the godfather of video games, popularizing touch screen gameplay long before smartphones dominated the electronics industry, and eclipsing all others in the market for handhelds, but this is the first time executives have attempted a full takeover of a turf they have little experience in, which is to say consoles. And yet the Nintendo Switch has already bested longtime console manufacturers in their own market.
Most top-selling games for the Nintendo Switch are remasters of time-honored classics. Though the company releases original content every year, it mostly capitalizes on nostalgia to drive sales. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is a remaster of a Wii game, at the time an entirely new entry. Super Mario 3D Land is the same Mario game, recycled across generations, but this time rendered in 3D. The only other new Nintendo release — besides Skyward Sword HD and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin — that overwhelmed the U.S. Top 20 is Neo: The World Ends With You, a sequel to a highly successful Nintendo DS exclusive. Both old games and new offerings are sold at full price, as if they’ve only come out, and often go on sale for less. Most of the other Nintendo games in the U.S. Top 20 aren’t fresh entries.
One might say Nintendo is simply that good at building a legacy, attracting fans and not customers, and making video games that last. It’s a business strategy unlike anything Sony or Microsoft has attempted themselves. A new Nintendo Switch model with OLED capability comes out on October 8.