Is the Nintendo Switch finally running out of steam?

The Nintendo Switch has been an unrelenting sales juggernaut for five years, but there finally may be signs the platform has peaked – at least for the time being.

In the latest quarterly earnings report, Nintendo revealed hardware sales were down more than 21% on the same time period in 2020. Digital sales of games were down 24.9% year-on-year and all software sales shrank 10.2% overall

The company still sold 4.45 million Switch consoles (taking the total to 89.04m overall) and 45.29 million pieces of software during the period, so it certainly won’t be hitting the panic button just yet.

The downturn was reflected in Nintendo’s overall coffers though. Year-on-year profits were down 17.3% to $1.09 billion (via Geekwire).

The explanation for the downturn is relatively simple. There were two major things driving the explosion of Switch sales from March to the end of June in 2020.

Firstly, locked-down gamers seeking a quarantine activity made the Switch a huge pandemic seller. Secondly, the release of the wildly-popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons game came in April 2020. That game has now sold more than 37m copies.

Nintendo’s major releases of 2021 thus far include the slightly underwhelming Mario Golf: Super Rush, which has still racked up 1.34 million units. New Pokémon Snap, which came out in April, sold just over 2 million units during the most recent period.

Nintendo will be highly confident the Switch will bounce back in the months to come, especially with the Switch OLED console, promising a better and larger display, better audio performance and expanded on-board storage. It’ll be out in the UK on October 8.

Many observers still believe a 4K Switch Pro, with a more powerful processor might be on the way, once the chip shortage has alleviated somewhat.

Still, if the Switch were never to sell another unit, it would still be one of the most successful consoles of all time. It’s currently the 7th most popular machine ever, with the mighty Wii (101m) now firmly in its sights.

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