After another successful year for Nintendo and the Switch, the momentum of the hybrid console doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Following the latest Nintendo Direct, it’s clear that the Switch’s lineup in 2022 is set to be just as stacked as it was in preceding years, with titles releasing that should please the Nintendo faithful and, hopefully, bring in some new fans, too. Nintendo isn’t pulling any punches. Nearly every notable franchise from the company’s storied past is now represented in one form or another on the machine (F-Zero when?). If the Big N can keep this momentum up, we could see the Switch overtaking the PS2 as the best-selling console of all time. That’s if increasing competition from the far more powerful PS5 and Xbox Series X and S doesn’t slow sales.
I’ve never known a Nintendo console to receive quite the same first-party support as the Switch beyond the NES and SNES. We’ve been treated to hit after hit, alongside plenty of ports of older games in-between big releases to keep the lineup from going stagnant. The Switch has an impressive library of exclusives. 2022 looks to be no different.
Kicking the year off with a bang, we have Pokémon Legends: Arceus releasing in early 2022, followed by the first fully 3D traditional Kirby game: Kirby and the Forgotten Land in the spring. Later on in the year we are being treated to both Splatoon and Bayonetta 3 (finally). This is only what we know about circa September 2021, too. Nintendo’s bound to have more up its sleeves.
We already know about four heavy-hitting games releasing in 2022. Plus, there’s the potential for Breath of the Wild 2, which is about as big a release as video games get. 2022 is certainly going to be another big year for the Switch, which had shipped 89.04 million units back in June 2021, of which Nintendo claims over 85 million have been sold.
Sales of the Switch in 2021, up to what we know, actually slowed compared to 2020. According to gamesindustry.biz, the 4.45 million Switch consoles sold in the Q1 period of 2021 was a drop of 21.7% compared to the same three month period in 2020. The release of the Switch Lite and Animal Crossing: New Horizons during a time in the pandemic where most people were stuck at home definitely bolstered the Switch in 2020 compared to a year later.
Thanks to VGChartz, we know that “while Switch sales are down in the first half of 2021 compared to 2020, sales are up by nearly 38 percent when compared to 2019.” The Switch has had a good 2021, despite the lack of a massive release like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It shows that Nintendo doesn’t necessarily need a big new Mario or Zelda to shift units. Despite this, Nintendo will be hoping that the release of the upgraded Switch OLED model alongside Metroid Dread will have a similar impact to that of the Switch Lite and Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020.
It’s a new Switch, but it’s not Super
Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Switch OLED model is not the Switch Pro/Super Switch many fans were waiting for. Instead of offering us a new, more powerful Switch that is capable of 4K and improved graphical capabilities, Nintendo has given us a Switch with a bigger and better screen as its main selling point. The OLED Switch will sell, but I doubt its numbers will be as impressive as a Switch Pro. Time will tell, of course, but Nintendo could end up regretting not releasing a bigger upgrade to the standard Switch console. The PS5 and Xbox Series X do represent a threat, a threat that might have been nullified with a Switch Pro.
The Switch was already missing out on plenty of third-party releases thanks to its lack of power. This can only increase given the increased gap in power and development tools on the new-gen machines. There is great demand for the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles, too. The PS5, at least, is selling quickly despite its shortages. In the U.K., Sony has sold over one million PS5 consoles, which, according to TheGamer, has “made it the fastest-selling PlayStation in U.K. history.” What’s more, the PS5 is “number one” in the U.K., currently outselling the Switch. PS5 sales will pick up, too, when semiconductor shortages come to an eventual end and games like Horizon: Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok release. While the U.K. is a relatively small market for games and console sales, it gives a good indication that people are clamoring for the new-gen machines. Nintendo wants the Switch to still be number one. Everywhere.
The Switch is in danger of being left behind. Blockbuster new titles are unlikely to release on the machine due to a lack of power. While titles such as Dying Light 2 are being released as cloud-based games on the Switch, people will be far more likely to play these games on their shiny new PlayStations and Xboxes. Without the release of a beefier Switch Pro or Super Switch, Nintendo will struggle to sell the Switch to those looking for the best multiplatform games. It’s imperative that Nintendo keeps up with its impressive track record of quality first-party and exclusive third-party releases on the Switch.
Heavy-hitting Nintendo titles like Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4 are definitely a good start. More exclusive third-party releases like Monster Hunter Rise cannot hurt, either, considering the game has sold 7.5 million units in around six months. Nintendo knows this and is working on it. The upcoming release of Metroid Dread, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and the aforementioned Pokémon Legends: Arceus, alongside the OLED model of the Switch, should push big sales. While it is true that the Switch is selling well no matter what games release, to keep the momentum up, big releases are needed.
The lineup of games releasing before the end of the year and into the end of 2022 is seriously impressive. Thanks to this graphic from Redditor u/ieatdragonz, everyone can see what’s in store on the Switch. It’s difficult to know what game to buy first. The list of first- and third-party games heading to the Switch in the near future is staggering. If Nintendo wants to break the PS2 sales record, though, it needs more. Mario Kart 9, anyone?
According to gamesindustry.biz again, Nintendo hopes to ship 20.5 million more Switch units by the end of March 2022. If Nintendo reaches these sales targets, it will have shipped 109.54 million units. This would place the Nintendo Switch ahead of the Wii and original PlayStation in the console sales chart, but still nearly 50 million sales behind the PS2 and DS. Owing to a ridiculously stacked lineup, the Switch is in good shape to sell through whatever targets Nintendo sets it.
Thanks to the lack of development for another console, Nintendo can do it, but it will be tough. Before the Switch, Nintendo developed for and released games on two consoles, not just the one. We had the Wii U and 3DS, the Wii and DS, the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance, and so on. Thanks to the Switch’s ability to be played as either a home console or handheld machine, Nintendo has moved onto developing for just the one machine (since the end of the 3DS, anyway).
Will 2022 be the year of the Switch? With the games confirmed, it very well could be, especially if Breath of the Wild 2 does release. There will be competition, of course, particularly from the PS5, but Nintendo will have more up its sleeves than what has already been announced. The Switch could prove so successful in 2022 that breaking the PS2 sales record would become more likely. The lack of a true Switch Pro/Super Switch in the wake of increasing support and sales of the PS5 and Xbox Series X might prove troublesome, but Nintendo can ride on the momentum the announced (and unannounced) games will provide long into 2023 and potentially beyond. Time will tell where the Switch will end in terms of sales, but it has been nothing but a gargantuan success for Nintendo. 2022 looks set to keep the good times rolling.