Nintendo Switcheroo: How the Nintendo Switch Outsold the Wii U

The Nintendo Switch has already outsold the lifetime sales of the company’s previous flagship system, the Wii U, after a mere ten months on shelves. Debuting in March 2017, the Switch was quick to prove that it would be a bigger success then the considered failure of the Wii U, which lacked in sales and third-party support.

At the time of writing the Switch has sold just under 15 million units which is a rousing success for Nintendo, even becoming the fastest selling game console ever in the US and is en-route to becoming one of the best-selling consoles of all time. The Wii U on the other hand only managed to sell roughly 12.5 million in its five-year lifespan. The Switch has also outsold the likes of the Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation Vita.

The Wii U itself was not a bad console, although, it was doomed to fail purely from its marketing. To the general consumer the Wii U looked to be nothing more than an add on to the previous system, the Nintendo Wii, and realistically why wouldn’t they think that? The Wii was receiving new peripherals all the time, to the point where non-gamers and parents were shrugging them off. Much of the advertising centred on the game pad, the Wii U’s tablet controller. The lack of focus on the new console itself lead the general consumer to believe it was yet another add on for the Wii that wouldn’t see much use and was quickly shrugged off.


The Nintendo Switch, however, was clearly marketed from day one as a completely separate and unique entity from the Wii library of systems. With no glaring connection to previous systems, accompanied by its handheld/home console hybrid ability, it was selling like hot cakes. Fixing another dagger in the Wii U’s back at launch by having a key system seller in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Wii U’s bigger titles were either launch window, later in the year, or something entirely new that many people didn’t trust to sell them an entirely new system. The Nintendo Switch not only had Zelda at launch, it promised great titles in the coming year with next to no delays. Splatoon 2, Mario Odyssey and ports of some of the Wii U’s best titles like Mario Kart 8 and incoming ones like Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, pretty much negated any reason to go back and get a Wii U over a Switch (Unless you’re craving some Smash Bros 4, Pikmin 3 or Wonderful 101). 

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Tragically, the Wii U’s best games came in the latter half of its run (aside from Pikmin 3, that game is a gem) but thankfully they have seen ports to the Nintendo Switch or 3DS, with more incoming. Some games present on the system were genuinely great and it’s nice to see that they aren’t dying with the console before ever having a chance to truly live.

The Nintendo Switch is shaping up to be a great console, with tons of quality titles announced and interested developers wanting to bring their franchises and concepts to the hardware. At the moment, the Nintendo Switch has enough titles currently available with more on the way soon to warrant its purchase and that’s just in one year with tons more unknown titles in the works to be announced at E3 or future Nintendo Directs. But while you’re picking up a copy of Tropical Freeze or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or any other Wii U port, give a final salute, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots style, to the Wii U. It tried, by God it tried, and it even had its moments of undeniable glory, but it just couldn’t do the job. However, the Switch seems to be capable of continuing and finishing the fight.

Featured Image Credit.