Don’t expect to find Nintendo Switches sitting on store shelves any time soon.
The Nintendo Switch has been incredibly popular since launching on March 3, even surpassing Nintendo’s own high expectations and forcing the console holder to double production levels of the hardware. This explosive popularity is reflected in yesterday’s earnings call for retailer GameStop posted to Seeking Alpha.
“The demand is incredibly strong for this [Switch] column,” GameStop COO Tony Bartel said in an earnings call yesterday evening. “As soon as we get into our stores, it’s out within hours… we anticipate that we’re going to be chasing supply this entire year.”
Bartel also noted that Switch owners are buying up games and accessories at a very high rate, with the average owner purchasing 5.5 games and/or accessories with the console.
“We have had a very successful launch so far with high attach rates of software particularly Zelda and related add-ons,” said CEO Paul Raines on the same call. “The Switch has provided a dramatic lift in traffic in-store and has real potential to be [Wii-like] in its ability to expand the gaming category from core to broad audiences.”
The Wii, of course, was Nintendo’s most commercially successful Nintendo console of all time, selling more than 101 million units. Reaching that level of sustained wild demand is a tall order for any games console, but the Switch at least seems to be off to a much better start than Wii successor Wii U, which has sold fewer than 14 million units to date. In fact, Raines sees the current purchase intent for Switch as being equal to or higher than the market-leading PlayStation 4.
Raines also acknowledged last week’s report that Nintendo planned to double Switch production levels from 8 to 16 million over its next fiscal year, which begins April 1. GameStop expects to continue receiving Switch allocations going forward after selling through its launch shipments in two days, but the company declined to provide an updated sales forecast.
Nevertheless, GameStop thinks Nintendo will be able to sustain at least some level of success moving forward thanks to future game releases. GameStop EVP and President Mike Mauler said “Nintendo has got several more great games they are launching this year for the console which we didn’t see with [Wii U].” Mauler believes this includes a few unannounced titles as well as “some good third-party publishing support on the Switch, which we really hadn’t seen with [Wii U] either, and that will drive demand.”
To date, Nintendo has been criticized for having launched the Switch with a relatively small number of games compared to other console launches. Many of the games currently available for it are ports or smaller indie titles. Nintendo itself does plan to release Splatoon, Mario and Mario Kart games before 2017 is out, but the console’s release schedule remains mostly bereft of AAA third-party games.