Nintendo Switch sees best ever week of sales in US as it prepares to enter China

The Switch sold 830,000 units over Thanksgiving week and will also officially launch in China next week, but how well will it do?

Thanksgiving week was the single best week of Switch sales in the system’s history, Nintendo of America has announced.

The system, which includes the main Switch SKU and the recently launched Nintendo Switch Lite, sold 830,000 units between November 24 and November 30, bringing the total number of systems sold since its launch in North America in March 2017 to 17.5 million units. Sales were helped thanks to copies of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being included with the system at no additional charge. Nintendo confirmed that Cyber Monday was the best yet for Switch since launch.

The company also provided new life-to-date sales figures for marquee software sales in the U.S. Pokemon Sword/Shield, which sold 2 million units in its launch week in the US and worldwide sales of 6 million units in the same period, sold 1 million units in the Thanksgiving window to bring its U.S. total to 3 million units sold.

Other lifetime figures include Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at 8.5 million units, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at 8 million units, Super Mario Odyssey at 6.5 million units, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe at 1.5 million units.

“Holiday shoppers see the value of Nintendo Switch, which offers a vast library of games for every type of player,” Nintend of America SVP of sales and marketing Nick Chavez said. “Whether shopping for the ideal gift or picking one up for yourself, the Nintendo Switch family of systems provides options that fit every play style.”

Things are going so well for Switch this month that NPD industry analyst Mat Piscatella said on Twitter today that Nintendo's console might set a November record rivaling the Wii's pace from 2008. 

With an incredibly strong foundation in the West, Nintendo is now eyeing China, and most expect the Switch to perform solidly there as well. 

Switch will officially go on sale in the country via Tencent as of next Tuesday, December 10, at 2,099 yuan ($300). It’ll also contain a demo, but not the full version, of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe. The game was approved for release in the country back in October.

The system is already available through the grey market within the free-trade zone in Shanghai, but now the system is set to officially launch throughout the country, how will it perform in a predominantly PC/mobile-centric country?

In an email to GameDaily, Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad said he saw the system surpassing PlayStation 4 as the main console platform in China by 2022.

“The Nintendo Switch has already performed well in China via the grey market due to its social gaming features, high quality localised software and lack of region lock. We expect the Tencent Nintendo Switch to perform well with an initial shipment of 100,000 units this year as per our China Console Games Market Report,” he said.

“We believe that Nintendo Switch will replace the PlayStation 4 as the market leader in China by 2022 when accounting for both legal and grey market sales.”

Kantan Games CEO Serkan Toto added to GameDaily, however, that expectations are probably being set slightly too high.

“People should be managing their expectations with regards to the potential of the Switch in China. The gaming culture in China is strongly rooted in PC and mobile gaming, with a strong tendency to the free-to-play business model to boot.”

Toto added: “However, Tencent and Nintendo have a good chance of building a decent business in China, as the device and software offer completely different experiences. The gray market in China is already full with Switch consoles, but I think Tencent can sell a few hundred thousand units before year-end - if there is enough stock and more games come out quickly.”

18 titles are currently in the process of being localised and approved for release from third-parties, including Mario + Rabbids, Octopath Traveler, Daemon X Machina and more, according to Ahmad. One of the games also includes an exclusive Rabbids game coming from Ubisoft.

Indie games are also coming to the system subject to approval, including To The Moon.

Toto said he doesn’t forsee too many issues when it comes to approval.

“From a content perspective, there should be no major hurdles,” he said. “It is safe to say that Switch software won't cause a lot of headache for Chinese regulators: Nintendo's games on that platform don't integrate gambling elements, avoid violence and never use political or other sensitive imagery. However, they will have to run through regulation like all other games - a process that is not really optimized at this point in China.”

Ahmad said to GameDaily that Nintendo Switch will only maintain a small part of spend within the country.

“China is a mobile gaming first market, backed up by a sizeable PC gaming market. While the console ban was overturned in 2014 and new consoles from Sony and Microsoft were launched in the region, a number of barriers such as prohibitive hardware and software pricing have held back the console industry from expanding beyond a niche in China," he explained.

“While we expect Nintendo to become the market leader, console will still remain a tiny portion of total games software and services spending in the country. We expect Nintendo to benefit from the official launch in China, but note that we have already seen an impact through grey market hardware and software sales since 2017, therefore the increase in sales via the official version will not significantly boost sales.”

The one big takeaway from today’s news from Nintendo, both in the US and China, is that the Switch continues to march to the drum of success, helped in part thanks to a decent holiday lineup worldwide such as Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and more. Nintendo is one of those rare companies that can truly appeal to global audiences on a consistent basis. 

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Johnny Cullen is a freelance writer and author from Derry, Northern Ireland who has written for Eurogamer, VG247, Official PlayStation Magazine UK, and so many more since July 2009. Come @ him about The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid 3, Jonsi and Alex, or the Four Horsewomen of WWE on Twitter @JohnnyCullen.

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