Wii U is still alive, possibly in Portland
Most of you will know that I publish a weekly Nintendo Downloads column, where I take a look at what’s new in the eShop, spread across multiple systems. I’ve been doing this for years without missing a week, even on vacation, and I’ve started noticing some trends recently.
To quantify these intuitions, I audited the last two months of the entire eShop, from September 28 to November 30. Here are the results.
During this period, the Switch had a staggering 141 outputs. That’s pretty crazy for a system that’s not even a year old yet, even if some are ports (of which the 3DS and Wii U have a lot of them too). To put things in perspective, there was zero 3DS games released on the eShop this week, and in the past two months there have only been 25, including eShop and retail versions. Surprisingly, the Wii U is not completely dead as it hosts 18 games, almost as many as the 3DS.
What does all this mean? Well, that doesn’t look great for 3DS. Several developers have already explained that the platform is a hard sell due to poor conservation and have since taken the plunge on Switch. Nintendo says 3DS will be supported “until 2018,” but given that so many people have embraced the Switch’s portable features, I’m not sure that will happen. The potential nail in the coffin is the statement that not only the next Pokemon be on the Switch, but Ultra Sun & Moon are the last big ones Pokemon projects on 3DS – so all hope of a companion or simultaneous release is gone.
The Wii U can pretty much be taken out of the conversation as the system itself is no longer in production (it serves primarily as a comparison for the state of the 3DS), but the Switch is ramping up to eventually overtake the Wii. original. If this really happened and the Switch broke the Wii 101 million units, it would be the most successful Nintendo console of all time. The PS2 is still the king at around 155 million, followed by the DS to 154m, Game Boy / Color to 118m, and the original PlayStation at 102m, but with Nintendo’s concept of “multiple switches per house”, it is possible to pull that spot out of the PlayStation if they continue this momentum.
[Mobile was excluded from this study as was the Wii, both of which hosted just one release each. Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon were counted as two games. DLC, demos, and apps were not counted.]