Nintendo and supply problems go together like Mario and Luigi.
Nintendo Switch consoles have been flying off store shelves faster than Nintendo can get new ones onto those shelves since the hybrid portable/home console launched on March 3. The Switch has been so popular, in fact, that Nintendo is reportedly competing with Apple for some scarce electronics components, but Nintendo would apparently love to do a better job of meeting demand.
“It’s definitely not intentional in terms of shorting the market,” Nintendo of America Senior Director of Corporate Communications Charlie Scibetta told Ars Technica in a recent interview. “We’re making it as fast as we can. We want to get as many units out as we can to support all the software that’s coming out right now… our job really is to get it out as quick as we can, especially for this holiday because we want to have units on shelves to support Super Mario Odyssey.”
According to Scibetta, Nintendo knew the Switch would be popular — just not this popular. “We anticipated there was going to be demand for it, but the demand has been even higher than we thought,” he continued. “We had a good quantity for launch, we sold 2.7 million worldwide in that first month, said we’re going to have 10 million [more] by the end of the fiscal year… Unfortunately, we’re in a situation right now where as quick as it’s going into retail outlets it’s being snapped up. It’s a good problem to have, but we’re working very hard to try and meet demand.”
Indeed, Nintendo now estimates it will hit 20 million sales by March 2018. By comparison, predecessor Wii U sold just 13.56 million units during its entire lifespan. Prior to that, the Wii became Nintendo’s best-selling home console of all time, moving 101.63 million units while mobile counterpart DS became Nintendo’s single most popular piece of hardware ever by selling 154.02 million units over an approximately 10-year span.
During its heyday, the Wii was at least as difficult to come by as the Switch is now proving to be. Then, as now, Nintendo was accused by some consumers and media members of intentionally shorting the market to artificially inflate demand and boost hype. In 2007, Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said that there was “no secret plan to store Wiis in a warehouse to spur demand.”
He also said that year that Nintendo was having trouble understanding exactly how high the demand was, adding that the company was unprepared for the system’s explosive popularity among nontraditional audiences such as retirement homes but that Nintendo was producing new consoles as quickly as it could.
As for the Switch, Scibetta couldn’t nail down a timeframe for when the Switch retail shortages might subside. Over in Japan, however, Nintendo apologized for the situation today and promised to increase shipment volume in July and August, though that may only apply to Japan.