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Considering ‘failure’ as Nintendo’s Switch outsells Wii U

The Wii U wasn’t Nintendo’s greatest failure. It was a stepping stone toward what may be its greatest success in a generation.

Often derided as a massive commercial flop — which it was — the Wii U was in an unenviable position from the get-go. It had to follow the Wii, a massive breakthrough hit in casual gaming — and a pretty solid hardcore gaming console, too.

The Wii was also a market smash, penetrating more family rooms than shag carpeting in the ’70s.

If the Wii was burdened with a clunky name, the Wii U was, technically speaking, totally screwed. But Wii U did pioneer the handheld-to-TV gameplay that the Switch has, apparently, perfected.

While the Wii U felt like a handheld (albeit a heavy one), it didn’t have the true, on-the-go portability that dedicated handheld units like the Game Boy, DS and 3DS offer. You couldn’t, for example, take it on an airline flight and play it in transit (without difficulty, that is — you’d still be saddled with the console unit, which was separate from the GamePad screen).

The Switch overcomes these obstacles, and it does it with a satisfying “snap.”

The fact that Nintendo found more people — by far — were playing their Switches undocked rather than docked indicates that their customers were itching for something like this.

The end of the 3DS era isn’t here yet, but it may finally be in coming into view.

Both Wii systems were, in true Nintendo fashion, more about innovative and fun game experiences than about robust technical specifications, achievements and online multiplayer in general — although the latter got a lot better near the end of the Wii U’s life, with Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon. The Switch picks up the baton and carries it over the finish line, literally giving new life to those games and more.

As Forbes points out, the Switch still has a long way to go to eclipse the original Wii’s sales — if it even can. However, the swift success of the Switch shouldn’t be wielded as a weapon to diminish either the venerable Wii or the poorly received Wii U. The Switch is standing on the shoulders of these giants, and its victories only honor them.

”N” other news…

In addition to brisk quarterly earnings thanks to the Switch, Nintendo on Wednesday announced:

  • a September’s launch for its Nintendo Switch Online service.
  • a Mario Kart Tour mobile app for fiscal 2019.
  • and a Super Mario movie in partnership with Ilumination currently in script development.

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