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The shocking thing about Nintendo Switch sales: Nintendo could have done better

When breaking records is a missed opportunity

The Nintendo Switch in its dock, with the Joy-Con grip. James Bareham/Vox Media

Nintendo has broken records with sales performance of the Nintendo Switch, and the console has already beaten the lifetime hardware sales of the Wii U. Those are great accomplishments for an unconventional system, but what’s surprising is that Nintendo reports that it could have done better.

From the Switch’s launch in early March 2017 through the end of September, Nintendo sold 7.63 million units of Switch hardware worldwide. The company went on to sell 7.24 million units through the holiday season, from October through December. Nintendo nearly doubled the lifetime sales of the hardware during the holiday quarter, and even that impressive showing apparently didn’t maximize potential sales.

“Nintendo had said it would ensure stores were well-stocked with the Switch during the gift-giving season after shortages over the summer,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The situation has improved, but the company still missed some opportunities during the holidays because demand remains stronger than supply, [Nintendo president Tatsumi] Kimishima said.”

Expect sales to remain strong in the post-holiday quarter if the Switch hardware is still supply-constrained and families continue to buy the system when they can find one in stores. This also means that it’s less important for Nintendo to drive hardware sales with new and exciting software in 2018, with so many fans who will continue to buy games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as they get their hands on the hardware.

Nintendo doesn’t yet need to worry about drawing in new fans when it can’t yet satisfy the demands of the fans it already has. It’s a good problem to have.

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