One month in, just how well is the Switch doing? [Google Trends & Sales Data]

By Matt Clough | | | 1629 |

Just before the launch of the Switch, we did a post analysing the trends that users were exhibiting worldwide around Nintendo’s latest console. What we found was cautiously optimistic after the generally disappointing performance of the Switch’s predecessor, the Wii U. At the time, we maintained that the proof would be in the numbers, so with one month of data under our belts, we set out to analyse just how the Switch was faring.

Obviously, it’s still very early days. The Switch is still awaiting its big second release, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which comes out at the end of this month, and has been out of stock pretty consistently in both the UK and the US.

Nonetheless, first impressions are famously important, so how has the Switch got on? Has the phenomenal reception of the system’s flagship launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, helped give the system a head start that largely evaded the Wii U? Has the issues surrounding wonky docks and irritable Joy-Cons put people off?

Here, we’ll use both Google Trends data and our own sales data, accrued through being the UK’s leading console comparison site to examine just how the Switch is performing, and aim to predict where it’s heading.

Google Trends

Nintendo Switch v Wii U

This is the comparison that most people will be interested in, so we’ll go with this one first. In their respective release weeks, the Switch completely eclipsed the Wii U, with the latter console earning just 72% of the number of searches the Switch did.

The Switch has since experienced a slightly sharper drop-off in interest than the Wii U. However, it has still stayed slightly ahead of its predecessor over the course of the first month.

These numbers look even better when you consider that the Wii U was released on the eve of Black Friday, by far the most popular period of the year for shopping. In contrast, the Switch has arrived at a point when console sales are traditionally at one of their lowest points.

Nintendo Switch v Wii

The Switch is, unsurprisingly, a long way behind the Wii. However, the same caveat applies with the Wii as the Wii U, namely that it was released at the peak shopping period. The Switch looks unlikely to emulate the Wii’s success overall, being more expensive and less family-friendly, but even getting close will be a huge win for Nintendo.

Nintendo Switch v 3DS

Here’s where things get interesting. Unlike the Wii U, the 3DS has been a solid performer since first arriving in 2011. Various updates and alternate versions have helped the console sell consistently, with around 65 million sold by the end of last year.

There’s been much speculation around whether the Switch is intended to replace the 3DS. While Nintendo have insisted it won’t, the numbers suggest the new console could eventually usurp the 3DS as the company’s leading handheld as well as its main console.

In launch month, searches for the Switch dwarfed the number ever received by the 3DS. Not only that, the 3DS experienced its lowest interest month ever. We’ll cover this more in our sales data section.

Nintendo Switch v Xbox One v PS4

Though never coming particularly close to searches for the PS4, the Switch did enjoy more interest than the Xbox One for two weeks. Though it’s now lagging behind again, no doubt hindered by the well-known stock issues, it’ll be fascinating to watch these trends develop over the coming months.

Sales data

Without wanting to blow our own trumpet too much, Console Deals is the UK’s biggest console comparison website. As such, our sales numbers are a pretty decent sample of the industry as a whole. So just how is the Switch doing?

In a word, well. Very well, in fact. Ordinarily, we’d expect a significant downturn when stock availability is an issue, as it has been with the Switch since launch. However, you wouldn’t know it to look at the numbers.

  • The Switch was our third biggest selling console for the month, behind the Xbox One (which was just 2% ahead of the Switch) and the PS4. This may not sound particularly surprising, but given the other two consoles were readily in stock and available with some incredible bundles, the Switch has performed wonders.
  • In the (relatively brief) periods when the Switch was in stock, its sales improved significantly. This is no great surprise, but just how much they increased was. During the one week in March when the stock was good, the Switch outsold both the Xbox One and the PS4.
  • The Switch outsold the 3DS (across all models) more than 10 to 1. This backs up what Google Trends reports on the Switch overtaking the 3DS as the dominant device. This could force Nintendo to address the balance of resources they allocate to the systems moving forward.

These numbers corroborate what has been reported elsewhere. The Switch was said to have sold 1.5 million units in its first week, putting it well on track to meet the goal of 2 million sales in the first month. Meanwhile, in Japan, the Switch has outpaced the PS4 at launch.

So what does all this mean for the future?

For a start, the proclamations that the Switch’s inferior graphical power when compared to the Xbox One and PS4 would doom it immediately have been proved false. The fact that there was a week in March in which the Switch outsold both its main competitors, at least on our site, despite scarcity of stock and deals, is extremely promising.

Not only does this suggest that Nintendo are on to a winner as a company, it’s also great for early adopters. The biggest failure of the Wii U – at least early in its life – was its inability to attract third party developers to augment the first party Nintendo games for the system. With a more substantial install base, it will be much harder for developers to ignore the Switch.

Despite Nintendo claiming the Switch won’t replace the 3DS, if it continues to outsell the 3DS at such a clip, don’t be surprised if they change tact and start to position the 3DS as a budget option handheld, with the Switch the premium option. They also may well push fewer resources to the 3DS for first party games as the Switch’s install base continues to grow.

Matt Clough

Matt is one of the writers for the Console Deals blog. His favourite console ever is the GameCube, and he will not have a bad word said against Just Dance.